There are two varieties of faceted crystallized carbon—the diamond. They appear to be identical, crystal clear, and give off a spectrum of indirect light colors. However, one is billions of years old, while the other is a few weeks old and born in a laboratory.
You must have heard and even bought laboratory-grown, synthetic, human-made, simulated, cultured, or cultivated diamonds. It is still essential to understand the difference between a natural diamond and a synthetic diamond before purchasing.
Both are diamonds, of course. So, what is the difference? Let us find out.
A real diamond is formed a hundred miles below the earth’s surface in billions of years, making it unique and rare. A natural diamond is a billions-year-old precious gem that survives severe environmental conditions, bursts out of the earth’s crust through volcanic activity, and is waiting to be mined.
Formed deep in the earth after extreme pressure and high temperature, most of the quality natural diamonds have been mined in Africa. They reach the surface via volcanic activity, where they lay in a type of volcanic rock formation called kimberlitic pipes. Other leading countries in the production of gem-quality diamonds are Russia, Canada, Botswana, South Africa, Angola, Namibia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo—all consistently producing over one million carats per year.
Lab-grown or Synthetic Diamond
A lab-manufactured diamond is a stone that is a “carbon copy” of natural diamond in all the optical and chemical properties. Natural occurrences do not form these diamonds, but they are artificially created in considerable amounts in a matter of weeks by preparing a natural environment in a laboratory.
Their look, feel, strength, and hardness are just like natural diamonds—with both specimens scoring a ten on the Mohs scale of hardness. Moreover, with almost identical chemical structures, synthetic diamonds are virtually impossible to differentiate from natural diamonds. However, lab diamonds are available in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Gem diamonds were created in a laboratory for the first time in 1971. However, colorless laboratory-grown diamonds made it to the gem and jewelry market in commercial quantities only until the mid-2010s.
Today, laboratory-grown diamonds are formed by two methods—high pressure, high temperature (HPHT) diamonds produced by mimicking the earth’s conditions that include natural diamonds.
Natural Diamond vs. Lab Grown Diamond
A few years ago, lab diamonds were average 23-25% more expensive than natural diamonds. However, now the synthetic ones are significantly cheaper than natural diamonds. Now they usually cost around 30% less than natural diamonds of similar size and quality.
This difference is due to the limited supply of natural diamonds, as they take billions of years to form. So, when synthetic diamonds have filled the demand, the price goes down.
There is a massive difference in natural and synthetic diamonds’ resale value—even more than the difference in their price. Natural diamonds retain around 50% of their initial weight, while synthetic ones cannot be resold over a few pennies on the dollar. This can lead to a loss of a massive percentage of their value when they make the purchase. Therefore, though lab-created diamonds are dropping in price, natural diamonds are growing in importance.
Concerns have been raised over the environmental consequences of the mining of natural diamonds. Therefore, human-made diamonds offer more in terms of long-term sustainability than those occurring naturally on the earth.
It is almost impossible to differentiate between the two specimens of diamonds for even jewelers or professional gemologists with the naked eye. However, using specialized equipment and magnification, an experienced gemologist may identify a lab-created diamond based on small contrasts in their inclusions that are not present in natural diamonds.
However, the best way to tell the difference between them is by checking the diamond’s certification. It is now necessary for reputable jewelers to declare if a diamond is natural or synthetic. This information can play a significant role in determining the reselling value of your diamond.
Lab-synthesized diamonds are graded on the same scale of Cut, Carat weight, Clarity, and Color as the natural diamonds. Always look for IGI and GIA certifications for lab diamonds because they offer specific grades for a diamond’s Color and Clarity, thus, assisting you in making a more informed decision.
Since no one would pay the same price for a “copied version” of a designer handbag as they would for the original article, no many consider a synthetic diamond worth the same as a natural one. People prefer purchasing a piece of jewelry that is likely to retain its value over the years.