They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend. But, traditionally, these brilliant gems could only be naturally grown. However, in recent years, 17.3% of engagement ring buyers are opting for an eco-conscious and sustainable decision—lab grade diamonds. These artificial diamonds are often considered a greener choice but don't let that fool you: their quality is in no way compromised.
The beauty of a diamond lies in its ability to reflect, refract and disperse light; and lab created diamonds can do that just as well as their natural counterparts. By mimicking high-pressure and high-temperature environments in which earth-grown diamonds are made, lab created diamonds are virtually identical in every way. They're also free of any ethical concerns as they're eco-friendly and conflict-free.
So, whether you’re shopping for an engagement ring or a special gift, don’t limit yourself to natural stones when there are impressive alternatives. Consider lab-created diamonds for a sustainable and just as special option.
Today, we’re taking an in-depth look at lab created diamonds and their specifications. We'll delve into the fascinating process that turns carbon molecules into brilliant diamonds. Additionally, you’ll learn about the different diamond grading for lab gems used to classify the quality of your stone. By understanding these criteria, you'll be able to make the best decision when it comes to purchasing your diamond.
What are Lab Diamonds?
Also known as synthetic diamonds, lab diamonds are man-made stones that look and feel like naturally grown diamonds. Unlike natural rocks, there’s no limit to how many synthetic stones can be created. Lab created gems are just as “real” as natural ones, contrary to popular belief. In fact, they feature the same chemical composition as natural diamonds.
Lab created diamonds are desirable for a few reasons. To start, they take far less time to develop than natural stones. In fact, scientists can grow them in the lab in under two months! They’re also more affordable than real ones. Since mined diamonds are becoming harder to find, they’re more expensive than lab created stones. You can save up to 50% by not buying natural rocks, a huge savings for those shopping for engagement rings.
In addition to the cost and time savings, there are some ethical reasons to buy lab created diamonds. Some stones are mined in war zones and are sold to finance warlord activity or even terrorism. These are called blood diamonds or conflict diamonds. Stones created in a lab are conflict-free, so you won’t be supporting international strife.
Not all natural diamonds are blood diamonds. Efforts have been made in recent years to address the issue of conflict gems, including the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme of 2003. The countries that participate work with diamond stakeholders to make sure these stones are sourced without conflict. There are currently 81 countries participating in the KPCS, with 54 representatives (the European Union counts as one representative, but many countries participate). Despite the KPCS’s efforts, blood diamonds still exist today, and the best way to ensure you don’t wind up with one is to purchase lab grade stones instead.
When diamonds are mined in war zones, the workers are often not paid very well. The working environments are also dangerous. On the other hand, lab created stones are made in much better working conditions, without child labor or human rights conflicts. Lab grade stones are developed by scientists, so there’s no need to worry about their pay, legal ability to work, or safety.
Lab created diamonds are more environmentally friendly than their natural counterparts. Mining damages the ecosystem by polluting the water and air, making it harder for people in that area to live there. Since scientists don’t have to mine for lab grade stones, they’re a great choice for those concerned about the environment. Lab created diamonds are also recyclable and reusable, making them a sustainable option.
How Are They Made?
Natural diamonds are created under heat and pressure, and lab created gems are created similarly. Scientists have two methods for creating these stones. One is the high-pressure, high temperature (HPHT) method and the other is chemical vapor deposition (CVD).
The HPHT method has been used since the 1950s and is still in use today. It recreates the environment that diamonds grow in. First, scientists introduce a tiny gem (known as a seed) to carbon and place it under extremely high temperatures (over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit) and pressure (1.5 million pounds per square inch). As carbon melts around the tiny diamond, a larger one forms. Once it’s cooled down, scientists have their diamond. Gems created this way sometimes have a yellow hue, so this is no longer the preferred method to ensure the highest quality. They also may be magnetic and have metallic inclusions.
In the 1980s, the CVD method was developed for diamond creation. This process replicated the gem formation process under gas clouds, and it uses less pressure than the HPHT method. We start with a tiny diamond once again, placing it in a carbon-filled gas chamber. It’s then heated to 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit, turning the gas into plasma and layering carbon pieces over the seed. Unlike HPHT diamonds, stones formed this way are not magnetic and don’t have certain impurities.
Even though HPHT isn’t the preferred way of making diamonds anymore, both methods are effective and create beautiful gems.
Lab Diamonds Specifications: The 4 C’s
When talking about lab diamonds specifications, it’s important to keep the four C’s in mind. If you’ve never heard of them before, don’t worry - we’ll explain.
The first of the four lab diamonds specifications is carat weight. To put it into perspective, one carat is one fifth of a gram. Smaller stones may not reach a carat, so a jeweler may refer to their weight in terms of points. One point is a hundredth of a carat.
Lab created rocks won’t grow to be as large as they would be if they were mined. Whereas natural diamonds can reach over 400 carats, you won’t see lab created stones much greater than 20. That being said, most people aren’t in the market for a 20 carat ring, so the maximum weight shouldn’t deter you from choosing lab created jewelry. Higher carat pieces will cost more money than lower carat gems, but two diamonds with the same carat weight can look very different. That’s because you have to also take into account the other three C’s, as well as the ring’s shape.
Our moissanites aren’t rated on a carat scale because they weigh approximately 10% less than diamonds. Instead, we use millimeters. To make things easier, we list each piece’s approximate weight in carats.
Color is also an important specification on diamonds. Perfect stones are colorless, with no tones of yellow or brown. There’s a scale to determine color quality: rocks are ranked on a scale from D to Z. D rated stones are the most expensive. Typically, you won’t see anything with an N-Z rating user for jewelry. Check out a lab grown diamond color chart to see the difference in each grade.
Fancy colors have their own lab diamond color chart. One of the benefits of buying lab grade rocks is having easier access to these otherwise rare selections.
Our moissanite diamonds are unlikely to change color over time. They temporarily change colors when being repaired, but they return back to their original state shortly thereafter.
The lab grown diamond clarity scale tells us how many inclusions (or impurities) are in a stone. The scale ranges from Internally Flawless to Included. Lower clarity rocks have more flaws. However, the imperfections on stones are often microscopic and most consumers won’t notice them.
Moissanite can sometimes have inclusions, too. These are often tiny and can be seen when magnified 10x, but not by the naked eye. Most gems have some form of imperfections, which is what makes them unique.
Lastly, we can determine a stone’s value by looking at its cut, or the quality of its shape (not the shape itself). That includes symmetry, facets, and reflective qualities. The only diamonds that receive ratings on cut are round, brilliant gems. Ratings go from Super Ideal to Poor. Lab grown diamond grading is the same as that for natural stones.
Ideal cuts are hard to find - the stones have likely been polished to near perfection so they can best reflect light. Gems with this rating are likely to be more expensive than stones without it.
Our moissanite diamonds are all cut to ideal proportions to increase brilliance and fire. With us, you can rest assured that you’re getting a high quality cut.
Beyond the 4 C’s: Additional Specifications for Lab-Grade Diamonds
Like the four C’s, additional specifications for lab grade diamonds are similar to those of natural gems. Let’s explore a few more ways we rank jewelry stones.
Polish and Symmetry
The polish on a diamond lets you know how smooth and glassy it is. When a polish is high-quality, it implies that there are little to no imperfections on the surface of the stone. Symmetry judges how precise a gem’s shape is and how the facts are arranged. Diamonds come in many different shapes, all of which are symmetrical. While it’s hard to notice the difference on a stone that doesn’t have good symmetry, it still affects the quality of it.
There are a few different imperfections that can affect a diamond’s polish. Abrasions, or scratches and pits that cause fuzzy lines in the facets are just one such imperfection. Another is burn, which is a white haze that occurs during the polishing process. This isn’t normal and should be avoided whenever possible. When stones are polished against the grain, it creates “lizard skin,” another flaw. You may also see laser manufacturing remnants on a diamond, which appear as transparent or white grooves. All of these imperfections can affect a gem’s grading report.
We can also judge lab created diamonds based on fluorescence. This is only visible in 25-35% of gems, and not everyone is on the same page about whether or not it’s a good or bad thing. In short, fluorescence is a glow that comes from a stone when it’s exposed to UV light. The glow is often a blue hue, and it disappears when the diamond is no longer under the light.
Fluorescence has no impact on a gem’s appearance when it’s not under UV light. In fact, even people experienced with diamonds can’t tell the difference. However, it tends to have a negative impact on a stone’s value if its grade is between D and H because it can cause them to look hazy or oily. If a gem’s grade is between I and M, though, it has a positive effect because the bluish tones neutralize the yellows in lower-grade stones.
Luster and Brilliance
Luster refers to how a gemstone looks when it reflects light. Diamonds are known for their strong luster, which is caused by their high refractive index. In geology, there are two types of luster: metallic or non-metallic. Diamonds mostly deal with a non-metallic luster called adamantine. This gives it a mirror-like appearance.
Brilliance, on the other hand, is the actual white light that’s reflected off of the diamond. This property boosts a gem’s price, value, and beauty.
Did you know that there’s a lab grown diamond certification? There are two different certifications that these precious stones can go have: IGI and GIA.
The International Gemological Institute (also known as the IGI) is an independent laboratory that compiles detailed reports about diamonds. This helps buyers determine their authenticity, quality, and any features they’re looking for. It evaluates the four C’s and provides information on enhancements the stone may have undergone. It’s important to note that while laboratories may have their own evaluating criteria, the IGI uses their own standards.
The Gemological Institute of America (or GIA) is the most recognized jewelry grading organization in the world. There are very few GIA certified lab created diamonds, as they mostly focus on natural gems. GIA reports are expensive, so many companies choose IGI reports instead to save money. The GIA uses rigorous standards for grading diamonds, and they’re known for their accuracy and adherence to those criteria.
When buying diamonds, it makes sense to request a grading report on them. This can either be from the IGI or GIA; both are sufficient.
Practical Considerations for Lab Created Diamonds
In addition to all of the above, there are even more things to consider when choosing lab created diamonds over natural rocks. We’ll talk about some of them.
Lab created gems are typically more affordable than natural ones since they’re not as hard to find. You may save 30-40% by purchasing lab grade stones over natural diamonds! That means you can get a larger gem than you’d be able to afford if you bought a natural one. For many people, this makes lab grade diamonds a better option.
The cost of lab created rocks still fluctuates, just like with natural ones. That’s due to factors like the four C’s, as well as the additional considerations. The retailer you shop from will also make an impact on the cost. Smaller stones start at just a few hundred dollars, whereas you may spend several thousand on larger carat pieces.
Gema&Co offers jewelry at prices that won’t give you sticker shock - and we’re able to do that since we offer moissanites instead of natural diamonds.
Choosing lab created diamonds can have a positive environmental impact compared to natural diamonds. Mining natural diamonds involves extensive excavation and can result in habitat destruction, soil erosion, and water pollution. In contrast, lab created diamonds are grown in controlled laboratory conditions, reducing the need for mining. Additionally, lab created diamonds require less energy and produce fewer carbon emissions compared to the mining and transportation processes involved in natural diamond production. If environmental sustainability is important to you, lab created diamonds can be a more eco-friendly choice.
Durability and Long-Term Value
Lab created diamonds have similar physical properties to natural diamonds, making them durable and suitable for everyday wear. They have a high hardness rating on the Mohs scale, indicating resistance to scratching and damage. Lab created diamonds also retain their brilliance and sparkle over time. While natural diamonds hold their value well, lab created diamonds may have a different resale market. It's important to consider your long-term goals and preferences when deciding between lab created and natural diamonds, as the value proposition may differ.
Customization and Design Options
One advantage of lab created diamonds is the flexibility they offer in terms of customization and design. Since lab created diamonds can be produced in various sizes, shapes, and colors, you have a wider range of options when it comes to choosing a specific stone for your jewelry piece. Additionally, lab created diamonds can be used in combination with other gemstones or metals to create unique and personalized designs. If you value individuality and want a piece of jewelry that stands out, lab created diamonds provide greater design possibilities.
Shop Gema&Co for Stunning Lab Created Diamonds
Lab created diamonds offer a range of advantages, making them an attractive alternative to natural diamonds. With their affordability, comparable quality, ethical considerations, and environmental sustainability, lab created diamonds have become a popular choice among jewelry enthusiasts. Gema&Co, a trusted retailer, specializes in offering moissanite engagement rings as an alternative to natural diamonds, providing customers with high-quality lab created gemstones at competitive prices.
If you're interested in learning more about lab created diamonds and exploring the beautiful options available at Gema&Co, we invite you to contact us today. Our knowledgeable staff can guide you through the process, helping you find the perfect lab diamond jewelry piece that meets your preferences and budget. Embrace the brilliance and value of lab created diamonds while making an environmentally conscious and ethically responsible choice.