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Lab-Grown vs. Mined Diamonds – What’s The Difference?

The diamond industry is a billion-dollar market. Lab-grown diamonds have been around since the 1990s, and mined diamonds date back to 3100 BC. Lab-grown diamonds are made with heat and pressure in a lab while mined diamonds come from deep beneath the earth’s crust…

What Are Lab-Grown Diamonds and Mined Diamonds?

Lab-Grown Diamonds

Lab-grown diamonds have been on the rise for quite some time now, in particular recently even earning vocal support from Pandora with their Pandora Brilliance collection centred around the concept of sustainable, lab-created diamond jewellery offering exceptional value.

But the real question remains, what are lab-grown diamonds in the first place? 

Simply put, lab-grown diamonds are identical to their natural counterparts in every way except that they’re produced in a lab from a diamond seed instead of mined from the earth. And since diamonds are made almost entirely of carbon – both lab diamonds and mined diamonds have the exact same physical properties – but more on that later in this article.

The process that allows for the creation of these diamonds is a replication of the natural process that forms diamonds naturally in the earth using high pressure and temperatures in a lab making it possible to create any diamond shape, size or colour. The most significant difference is that organic/mined diamonds are believed to be at least a billion years old while lab-grown diamonds finish growing in a matter of weeks or months through a process that is repeatable.

Mined Diamonds

Mined diamonds, on the other hand, form naturally in the earth’s crust but this takes billions of years to take place. The process of extracting diamonds from the earth is not without consequences. While many may associate the term blood diamonds with the 2006-released movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio – it is in fact another term for conflict diamond. Both of which describe the fact that the mining of diamonds has significant impacts on everything from destroying local habitats and wildlife all the way to compromising the wellbeing of labourers.

Lab-Grown vs. Mined Diamonds

What Are the Physical Differences? Do They Look & Shine Alike?

Lab-grown diamonds look identical to mined diamonds to the naked eye. Each type of diamond sees its stones exist on a spectrum of clarity and colour. Some mined diamonds are nearly flawless, and others contain small visible or visible imperfections — lab-mined diamonds are the same way.

Meaning that everything from their colour, brightness & scintillation is the same for lab diamonds as for mined diamonds…

Can A Jeweller Tell If A Diamond Is Lab Created?

Lab-grown and natural (otherwise referred to as mined) diamonds of the same quality look the same, even to a trained eye. So no, even traditional jewellers’ tools such as microscopes or loupes cannot detect the difference between a laboratory-grown diamond and a mined (natural) diamond.

How Do You Buy An Ethically Sourced Diamond?

Blood & conflict diamonds still exist to this day with the industry – with ties to smuggling, child labour, contributing to human rights abuses, and unfair labour practices. And a certification process that was put into place to ensure/verify that this isn’t taking place – the Kimberley Process – is known to have many loopholes making it virtually impossible to be 100% certain that your diamond isn’t tainted in some way. Fortunately, if you are in the market for an engagement or wedding ring, there are still ways to ensure that your money is put to good use and not contributing to initiatives that negatively impact miners & instead help them.

1. Ask Your Jeweller where diamonds were mined from. If they know every step from its path from the source all the way to their stock, then this can be useful in assessing how likely it is to be from an ethical source.

2. Ask for details so that you can verify details and assurances regarding how reputable suppliers really are.

3. Steer clear from Zimbabwe and Angola. Diamonds originating from both of these areas have been widely documented by organizations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

4. Know your supplier. Although it is unreasonable to expect any company or jeweller to be able to trace each and every one of their mined diamonds back to the exact mined where it came from, certain jewellery brands often invest in local communities (including Tiffany, Signet and Cartier all of which have invested in Botswana’s economy to help ensure that more of the diamond income stays within the country).

5. Consider secondhand jewellery. The secondhand diamond and jewellery market curbs the effects because even if a diamond originally had “tainted” beginnings, those are over and you’re not contributing to it having to happen again by buying a new piece of jewellery.

6. Consider lab-grown alternatives. As we’ve covered in great depth in this article, lab-grown diamonds are physically identical in properties to mined diamonds so this is also an important consideration to make.

3 Things To Consider When Buying A Diamond

1. Buy from a reputable jeweller that you can trust.

David Christopher Jewellers (hey, that’s us!) has been around for over 30 years. We’re a family-owned business of two generations with retail stores throughout the Midlands and South West of the United Kingdom. As a family-run business, every single one of our customers is treated with friendly, personal service leaving them confidently knowing they’ve made the right decision.

2. Ensure your diamond is ethically sourced

We strongly believe it’s important to know that your diamond comes from a legitimate source, which is why here at David Christopher Jewellers – we source our diamonds from the leading, well-respected diamond suppliers which also ensure that their diamonds are free from conflict & ethically sourced.

3. Know The 4 C’s of Diamond Quality

When buying your diamond or diamond jewellery, always consider colour, cut clarity, and carat weight as these are universal measurements used to assess the quality of diamonds. This ties back into our first tip – which is to order from a reputable jeweller you can trust. If you choose to order from us online as opposed to visiting us in-store, you have the luxury to take advantage of our return policy which gives you the comfort to view the diamond in your own home and return it if it does not meet your expectations or requirements within 14 days.

Lab-Grown vs Mined Diamonds – Frequently Asked Questions

Are lab-grown diamonds real?

Yes, lab-grown diamonds are real diamonds. They have no noticeable nor distinguishable physical differences to the point that beyond the point of production it would no longer be possible to tell if diamonds are lab-grown or mined.

Are lab-grown diamonds more ethical and sustainable?

Yes, by virtue of the process and complexity of the process involved with their creation lab-grown diamonds are much more ethical and sustainable to produce.

Are lab-grown diamonds better than mined diamonds?

Better is subjective and not something that anyone can quantify for you. What can be said, is that if you are avidly against the thought that your diamond may have in some way have been made available to you through unethical means, then lab-grown diamonds are a great choice…

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