Lab Grown Diamonds Are As Different As Mined Diamonds
With lab grown diamonds becoming more popular because they are cost-effective, conflict-free, and eco friendly, it’s important to note that not all lab-grown diamonds are created equal. Just like diamonds formed in the earth, there are also a lot of variances in diamonds that are grown in the lab.
As a third-generation jeweler, I’ve seen so many diamond stimulants come across my showcases these past 25 years. And boy do I have some stories! Knowing what to look for, and what questions to ask, I believe, will help you pick the best diamond for your engagement ring!
So here’s what you should know when you look at lab grown diamonds for quality.
Where is the diamond made?
First off, all lab grown diamonds have the same elemental structure and the same chemical, physical, and optical properties as mined diamonds. The only difference is mined diamond rough crystals are cut from the earth, and lab diamond crystals are made in a machine. But even lab grown diamonds have differences.
Diamonds grown in the United States have a more consistent power supply grid and cleaner water sources than those grown in other countries.
Why does this matter?
Lab grown diamond machines are pretty cool – they look like something from a sci-FY movie! These pods use super high pressure and water to “grow” a small diamond seed into a bigger crystal. Kind of like how you used to make rock candy with sugar water when you were a kid.
If the power goes out, it interrupts the process and effects the final product. Same with the water. Clean, filtered water produces a better diamond rough crystal. And both can cause issues that can be visible in the lab grown diamond after it’s cut and polished.
It’s all about the cut
All diamonds, whether mined or lab grown, still need to be cut into their finished shapes. Diamonds are cut by machines and people (yep – there are still diamond cutters around!) It’s really cool to watch, too!
A huge part of the value and beauty of a diamond is determined by how well it is cut. So.Much.Math. The best looking, most sparkly diamonds have the best cutters. And some lab grown diamond manufacturers are going for quantity, not quality – they’re churning out diamonds by the boat full – but the pieces are … kind of ugly.
Having an expert (that’s us) weed through the ugly is a big help. We’ve literally seen millions of dollars worth of diamonds in our life, and can tell at a glance which ones are cut well.
Lab grown diamond certifications
Many diamonds, both mined and lab grown, are graded and certified by independent laboratories. These certificates don’t give a value of the gemstone, but rather, a grade. Like a report card, actually. The better the grade, the more the diamond is worth.
But diamond grading is very subjective. The same diamond can get different grades, depending upon who looked at it. Weird, but whatever – it is what it is.
Now some lab grown diamond manufacturers have their OWN labs. We think this is a conflict of interest. The whole idea of an independent lab is to give it a grade which will determine it’s worth. So – if I make a diamond, then give it an A (but it’s really only a C), then I make more money when I sell it. Hmm.
At Scott’s Custom Jewelers, we only sell diamonds (lab and mined) that are graded by an independent lab. And we do that by vetting those labs and manufacturers. That way, you get what you pay for.
Diamonds grown out of the country
One of the biggest reasons people chose a lab grown diamond is because they are conflict-free.
The mined diamond industry had a history, that’s for sure. Now, there is a process in place (it’s called the Kimberly Process) that tracks a diamond from the mine to the retailer and guarantees that it was mined humanely, wasn’t part of any drug or arms cartels, and other awful things.
Lab grown diamonds (or “Man made diamonds“) aren’t mined, but there’s no process guaranteeing their ethics.
Because of these ethics, we chose to sell only those diamonds grown in the United States for several reasons:
- Safe working environment: We have OSHA and other manufacturing agencies looking out for the workers here in this country.
- Fair wages: The labs we buy from pay their workers fairly, provide benefits and pay taxes.
- Supporting the local economy: Buying American is always preferred! The labs we buy from employ workers who also use their wages to buy from local businesses, and so on, and so on.
- Tariffs: Overseas companies are sometimes subject to tariffs or taxes.
Buying our lab grown diamonds from American companies eliminates these conflicts, and let’s us provide you a beautiful gemstone at the lowest price.
Buyer Beware: Buying a lab grown diamond off the internet
Sure, we all internet shop. (I say this as UPS just dropped off a package!) And for somethings, it’s a no-brainer! But lab grown diamonds are not like, say a television. You can order a specific model of TV from several sources, and it will be the exactly the same, except for maybe the price (and shipping!)
Lab grown diamonds ARE different from each other – just liked mined diamonds! You really need to see a few next to each other, to compare and figure out which one “winks at you” (that’s what Grandpa used to say).
Plus, we’ve seen so many online companies that are less than honest, to say the least.
We had a person come to us recently, with a “diamond” they purchased off a website that they said was lab grown. And it WAS not mined, that was for sure. It looked off – something was weird about the finish. The customer was told it was authentic, but it turned out to be an ordinary cubic zirconia (a man-made diamond stimulant) with a coating of diamond on it so it would fool diamond testing equipment.
The worst part was that when the customer tried to return it, the company accused THEM of switching out the “authentic” diamond with a fake CZ! Basically, it was “touched you last”.
Not all lab grown diamonds are created equal!
So the moral of the story is: You still need good people (i.e. jewelers) in your life to help guide you in some decisions. Our expertise and experience will help you not make costly mistakes, and help you save money (and the planet) when you chose a lab grown diamond for your jewelry!