Guide to Laboratory Grown Diamonds

At Michael Jones Jeweller, we pride ourselves on the exceptional expertise of our staff. Our team of seasoned gemmologists and knowledgeable jewellery experts are here to guide you through every step of your purchase.

Traditionally mined from the Earth’s mantle, diamonds are as much a feat of nature as they are of human desire. However, in recent years, a significant innovation has emerged — laboratory-grown diamonds. These gems are true diamonds, but with an origin rooted in technology rather than geology. We are committed to honesty and openness about each diamond's characteristics, origin, and quality, whether they are traditionally mined from the Earth’s mantle or are the result of significant innovation in the form of laboratory-grown diamonds. These gems, rooted in technology rather than geology, represent a new choice in the industry. As they make their mark, we recognise the importance of informed decisions, and our experts are equipped to explain the nuances between mined and laboratory grown diamonds, helping you choose a piece that aligns with your values and expectations.

What are Laboratory-Grown Diamonds?

Laboratory-grown diamonds, also known as synthetic, cultured, or engineered diamonds, are genuine diamonds produced in a controlled environment using advanced technological processes. Unlike imitation gems like cubic zirconia or moissanite, which merely mimic the appearance of diamonds, laboratory-grown diamonds possess the same physical, chemical, and optical properties as natural diamonds.

How Are Laboratory Grown Diamonds Made?

There are two primary methods used to create laboratory grown diamonds:

High Pressure, High Temperature (HPHT) - This method mimics the natural conditions under which diamonds form inside the Earth. It involves subjecting a small diamond seed to high temperatures (about 1400°C to 1600°C) and pressures (approximately 5.5 million pounds per square inch). Over time, the carbon atoms crystallise on the seed, growing it into a larger diamond.

Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) - A more modern technique where a diamond seed is placed in a chamber filled with a carbon-rich gas, typically methane, which is then heated to around 800°C. The gas is ionised into a plasma, breaking down the molecules and allowing pure carbon to adhere to the diamond seed and slowly crystallise.

How Do Laboratory Grown Diamonds Differ from Natural Diamonds?

The primary difference between laboratory-grown and natural diamonds lies in their origin. Natural diamonds are formed over billions of years under the Earth's surface through natural geological processes. In contrast, laboratory-grown diamonds are crafted over weeks in an industrial setting, with human oversight controlling their growth conditions.

From a gemmological standpoint, both types of diamonds are indistinguishable without the aid of advanced equipment. They share identical chemical compositions (pure carbon in a crystalline form) and properties such as hardness and refractive index. This makes them equally durable and brilliant.

Environmental and Ethical Considerations of Natural And Laboratory Grown Diamonds

Laboratory-Grown Diamonds:
Laboratory-grown diamonds are often perceived as more sustainable due to their reduced need for excavation and land disruption. However, they are not without environmental impact. The significant energy required to replicate the extreme conditions necessary for diamond formation is a notable factor, as is the sourcing of carbon gases, which can have environmental implications.

Natural Diamonds:
The mining of natural diamonds has historically raised concerns regarding ecological disruption and ethical issues. However, stringent industry regulations, such as those implemented under the Kimberley Process, have significantly reduced the circulation of conflict diamonds, enhancing the ethical sourcing of mined diamonds. Additionally, many mining companies are now obligated to rehabilitate mining sites and contribute to the welfare of surrounding communities, striving for a positive environmental and social impact.

Cost and Market Considerations of Laboratory Grown Diamonds

Cost-wise, laboratory-grown diamonds typically offer more value, being priced lower than natural diamonds due to shorter supply chains and less resource-intensive production processes. This price difference enables buyers to purchase larger or better-quality diamonds for the same investment or to save money. With the increase in availability of fancy coloured laboratory grown diamonds, including pinks and blues, this is a significant saving on the cost of a natural fancy coloured diamond.

Are Natural Diamonds Better Than Laboratory Grown Diamonds?

Both laboratory-grown and natural diamonds have their merits and considerations. Laboratory-grown diamonds offer an alternative with certain environmental advantages and a lower cost, while natural diamonds support traditional industries with increasingly stringent ethical standards and community support initiatives. The choice between the two ultimately depends on personal values, aesthetic preferences, and the importance placed on the origin of the diamond. As the technology behind laboratory-grown diamonds continues to advance and the diamond mining industry evolves, consumers are presented with more choices than ever, ensuring that the allure of diamonds, whether earth-extracted or lab-created, remains undiminished.

Want To Learn More About Diamonds?

Visit our Engagement Ring Buying Guide to learn about the 4C's of diamond grading and our best advice on finding your perfect engagement ring. 

Images display pieces from the Created collection of Laboratory Grown Diamonds by Brown & Newirth, available at our Grosvenor Centre Showroom.

Contact us:

Let us help you find your perfect ring today by exploring our exceptional selection of contemporary and traditional diamond rings across all three of our showrooms and online. 

Fill out an online enquiry form, call us or visit your nearest showroom for a consultation today.