What Are Lab Grown Diamonds?

Celebrating love and commitment is a time of excitement and joy, and there’s simply no stronger symbol of eternal devotion than the sparkle of a diamond. However, in our age of social and environmental enlightenment, we have become increasingly aware of the less than savory practices associated with traditional diamond mining.

So the question must be asked: has the classic gemstone of eternal love lost its luster? The answer is an emphatic no. Making a declaration of love doesn’t have to be weighed down by social and environmental concerns, nor the burden of the debt incurred by a diamond’s extreme cost.

At Gema&Co, we have lovingly crafted the solution by perfecting the art of exquisite lab diamonds. Our mission is to make celebrating love more accessible and less commercial, without the need to compromise on quality. Our lab grown diamonds represent the perfect combination: a stunningly beautiful piece that is ethically, environmentally, and financially guilt-free.

Our jewels offer the same passion, fire, and brilliance of a natural diamond, with none of the flaws. They are the very reason that jewelers and diamond lovers alike are realizing that lab grown diamond jewelry is the new face of everlasting love.

What is a Lab Grown Diamond?

Lab grown diamonds are chemically, physically, and optically identical to mined diamonds and are certified under the same criteria and by the same professional institutions. So yes, lab diamonds are 100% the real deal!

The unfounded belief that lab grown diamonds are not real has likely arisen from the many misleading names they have been called in the past. Examples include “synthetic” diamonds, “manufactured” diamonds, and “artificial” diamonds.

However, the only difference between natural diamonds and our lab grown diamonds is that lab diamonds are “grown” in a lab rather than created naturally underground. However, the conditions for creation are identical to those in which natural diamonds form beneath the Earth’s surface.

A ruling from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in July 2018 substantiated this fact by declaring it deceptive to classify lab grown diamonds as synthetic, because the term is misleading. The only distinction between lab created diamonds and mined diamonds is their origin. To clarify further, let’s look at how lab diamonds compare to their mined counterparts in more detail.

Creation Technique

Most naturally-occurring diamonds on the market today were formed in the Earth’s mantle, deep beneath the surface. Over billions of years, intense heat and pressure caused the carbon gas to rearrange at an atomic level and take on a solid form. Our laboratories recreate these conditions in a controlled environment, thereby growing diamonds in precisely the same way, but in a fraction of the time and without the harmful effects of diamond mining practices.

Chemical Composition

As we explained above, mined diamonds are formed from crystallized carbon. So, exactly what is a lab-created diamond made of? Simple. Our lab diamonds are created using nothing but 100% pure carbon, making them chemically identical to natural diamonds.

Durability

Because our lab diamonds are a literal carbon copy of a mined diamond, they are identical in terms of strength. Both are the hardest minerals found on Earth. On the Mohs Scale of Hardness, they score a perfect 10. This means that lab grown diamond jewelry is as difficult to chip as mined diamond jewelry, and the only substance capable of scratching a lab created diamond is another diamond.

Refractive Index

In technical terms, the refractive index describes the speed of light as it slows down to pass through a transparent or semi-transparent material. In more simple terms, it determines how the stone will reflect light.

The refractive index of a mined diamond is 2.4, meaning light travels through diamond 2.4 times slower than it does through air. The light is traveling too fast for us to notice the difference, but it does produce some interesting effects on the shine of the stone. The refractive index of our lab diamonds is also 2.4, so they shine just as brightly as natural diamonds.

The 4Cs

The 4Cs — color, clarity, cut, and carat — are the globally accepted standards for assessing the quality of a diamond. Many of the leading grading agencies responsible for determining the quality of natural diamonds also grade lab diamonds. Examples include:

  • The International Gemological Institute
  • The Gemological Institute of America

Furthermore, they use the same methods, scales, and standards for both natural and lab grown diamonds. Since exactly the same evaluation techniques are utilized, the differences between the 4Cs are zero.

As you can see, when you select a lab diamond, you don’t have to compromise on any of the desirable qualities of a natural diamond. Still not convinced? We’ve got a whole list of even more benefits to choosing lab grown diamond jewelry!

Benefits of Lab Diamonds

Our new generation of engagement rings celebrate love without compromise. Our ethical practices and transparent supply chain offer you complete peace of mind at every stage of the process. Gema&Co’s exquisite lab diamonds represent a different way of doing things that offer several additional benefits for the environment, diamond industry workers, and you.

Environmental Benefits

There’s no denying that the diamond mining industry is guilty of serious environmental harm. Some companies are making concerted efforts to clean up their act. However, it’s arguable that such actions are both too little, and much too late. The reality of the mining process, coupled with the fact that mines are located in multiple countries with varying laws, means making a genuine impact on the level of damage is unrealistic.

Lab grown diamond jewelry represents an eco-friendly alternative to natural diamonds, with several additional environmental benefits:

  • Lab diamonds consume just 18 gallons of water per carat, whereas a mined diamond consumes more than 126 gallons per carat.
  • Carat for carat, lab diamonds require half the amount of energy to produce compared to mined diamonds.
  • Because lab grown diamonds can easily use energy harnessed from renewable sources in their production, they release barely a few grams of carbon emissions. In contrast, it’s estimated that 57kg of carbon is released into the atmosphere for every single carat that is mined.
  • Lab diamonds cause none of the land disruption, deforestation, or natural disasters associated with diamond mining.
  • Lab diamonds are grown using small amounts of carbon from graphite or purified natural gas. Both are abundantly available, making them more sustainable.
  • Lab diamonds do not need to be extracted in an environmentally invasive way.
  • Lab diamonds are free from waste products like toxic chemicals, harmful dust particles, and acid drainage, all of which are inevitable byproducts of the diamond mining industry.

Ethical Considerations

Lab grown diamonds bear none of the human costs associated with mined diamonds. There are no injuries, long-term health problems, unfair labor practices, or poor working conditions found in the lab diamond industry. At Gema&Co, our practices are 100% conflict-free, meaning you have absolutely no risk of unintentionally funding violence or supporting the exploitation of workers or their families.

Affordability

We don’t believe that celebrating love should cost anyone several months of their salary. That’s why at Gema&Co, we are redefining this outdated and contrived rule. The final finish of a lab diamond looks just as expensive as a natural diamond because they go through an identical process of cutting, polishing, and inspection.

Yet, our diamonds can be 20-40% less expensive than mined diamonds. This has nothing to do with quality. Rather, the shorter supply chain and more efficient production techniques result in reduced overheads. We pass these savings on to our customers, which is why our diamonds represent better value.

Superior Quality and Purity

Lab diamonds are purer than natural stones because they don’t have any impurities or dirt ingrained in them. They also show fewer signs of strain in their crystal structure and have fewer defects because they are made in carefully controlled environments. This means lab grown diamonds shine brighter, stronger, and regularly receive higher purity ratings than natural diamonds.

With such wide-ranging and impactful benefits, why not follow your heart and hand pick a lab grown diamond that has the potential to change much more than your love life?

How are Lab Grown Diamonds Made?

Exactly how does the lab diamond industry produce the same caliber stone with none of the drawbacks of a mined diamond? The solution, of course, lies in the wonders of science. However, to answer this question fully, we must revisit the initial query: what is a lab grown diamond made from?

As we have already discussed, our lab diamonds are 100% pure carbon, and their production tells a fascinating story of technological advancement coupled with cutting-edge scientific innovation. To thoroughly understand the lab production process, it helps to first consider how natural diamonds are formed.

Geologists believe all the natural diamonds that exist today formed below the Earth’s surface 1-3 billion years ago. Although the exact process is not fully understood, it is believed that modern-day diamonds originated from carbon dioxide gas reserves hidden deep underground. Due to volcanic pressure, the gas became exposed to intense heat (more than 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit) and subjected to extreme pressure (around 727,000 pounds per square inch). The combination of these factors solidified the gas into solid form and it was transported toward the Earth’s surface.

So, how do we recreate these conditions to make beautiful lab grown diamond jewelry? There are two techniques. Let’s take a look at each in a little more detail.

High Temperature High Pressure (HTHP)

HTHP diamonds begin as tiny slivers of diamond known as a diamond seed. The seed is placed in a growth chamber with a high purity carbon source. There, it is exposed to temperatures in excess of 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit and pressurized to over 870,000 pounds per square inch. These conditions cause the pure carbon to melt and precipitate around the seed crystal, so the lab diamond begins to grow. Over the course of a few weeks, a rough lab diamond is produced.

Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD)

A CVD diamond also begins life as a thin slice of diamond seed, very often produced via the HTHP process. The seed is placed in a sealed chamber and the atmosphere filled with a carbon rich gas such as methane. The chamber is heated to around 1,900 degrees Fahrenheit at which point a microwave beam is used to stimulate carbon precipitation, which leaves deposits on the seed. The diamonds are removed from their chamber and polished every few days to remove any carbon that has not fully crystallized before being replaced for further growth. A rough lab diamond can usually be produced in around a month.

You may be wondering if it matters which production process your diamond has undergone? The short answer is not really, although within the industry, CVD is generally the preferred method. That’s because CVD diamonds are relatively flawless and the process typically has a higher success rate when it comes to creating quality diamonds with high clarity and color grades.

However, both types of “manufactured” diamonds undergo the exact same grading and certification processes. So ultimately, it doesn’t matter which way your diamond was created. Either way, you will own an exceptional piece of lab grown diamond jewelry.

How Are Lab Created Diamonds Certified?

Lab diamonds are graded and certified by the same gemological institutes using the same criteria as natural diamonds. Therefore not only are you guaranteed that our lab diamonds are 100% real, but you can also be certain that they are equal in quality to natural diamonds.

We’re often asked how it's possible to compare lab grown diamonds with their natural counterparts on a like-for-like basis. So, what is a lab diamond’s level of quality measured against? All diamonds, regardless of their origin, are sent to an independent lab that specializes in grading. Here they are individually analyzed and evaluated so that each diamond receives an unbiased certification based on the following four criteria:

Carat

A carat is the measure of a diamond’s weight. While it is impossible to control the weight of a mined diamond, a further benefit of growing diamonds in a lab is that we can influence the size and therefore the weight of the final stone. All other factors being equal, the larger the diamond, the higher the price.

Color

There is no visual color difference between a lab created diamond and a natural diamond. All diamonds are graded on a scale from D to Z. “D” is a completely colorless diamond and “Z” refers to a diamond with a yellow hue. Colorless or near-colorless diamonds are considered the most desirable and are therefore more expensive. The varying hues derive from impurities that cannot be controlled in natural diamonds, but can be influenced when making lab diamonds. Gemological experts will also assess fluorescence, which refers to the light that is emitted when a diamond reflects light from a source. This scale goes from “none” to “strong”.

Clarity

Using a magnification scale of x10, diamond experts carefully examine the clarity of each diamond. The rating scale runs from “I” which stands for “included” (meaning it has some visible flaws) to “FL” which stands for “flawless” (meaning the diamond has no visible flaws, even under magnification). Logically, grades closer to the flawless end of the scale are considered to be of higher value. While some flaws may occur in lab grown diamonds, they can generally be controlled, whereas this is impossible with minded diamonds.

Cut

One of the most important factors in determining the quality of a diamond is its cut. How a diamond is cut will govern how the light is reflected from the stone into your eyes. An excellent cut should have sharp edges and reflect all available light back out through the top of the diamond in straight lines. So, ultimately, it is the cut that is responsible for giving a diamond its sparkle. Factors such as symmetry, depth percentage, polish, and proportion size will also affect a diamond’s brilliance. All diamonds go through the cut and polish process, irrespective of their origin. Therefore there should be no difference between the quality of the cut of a lab diamond vs. a natural stone. Any difference can be solely attributed to the skill of the gemcutter.

Find Your Forever Ring at Gema&Co

Because many of these four grading factors can be influenced in the production of lab grown diamonds, our stones regularly outgrade natural diamonds and represent some of the most consistent, highest graded, and best-value diamonds available.

True love is passion and fire. True love is pure and lustrous. True love is unbreakable and enduring. True love lifts us up. True love does not compromise.

Every single one of our lab created diamonds perfectly embodies these characteristics. By embracing a new outlook on old traditions, our lab diamonds represent the perfect symbol with which to tell your true love story. Shop our collection of stunning ​​lab diamond engagement rings today!