Diamonds remain the most prestigious and sought-after gemstone money can buy, but what you might not know is that your next purchase may have been grown in a lab. Ever since market trendsetters De Beers starting allowing synthetic diamonds into their products, prices have dropped from $4,200 per carat to $800 – making it feasible for retailers everywhere to get in on the action. Despite their popularity, myths as to the quality of lab-grown diamonds persist. Modern science shows that these are just myths, and synthetic diamonds can be a girl’s best friend.
What’s the Difference?
The difference between a natural and lab-grown diamond is simple, and the clue is in the name – one is mined, or sifted from river deposits, while the other is developed in sophisticated labs. The major difference that can be seen here is in impurities. A diamond formed by the Earth’s natural processes will have inclusions and impurities, which subtly effect colour. For instance, a blue-tinted diamond will have tiny amounts of Boron gas, creating imperfections that some will value as a good quality. Essentially, a lab-grown diamond is likely to be flawless, whereas a naturally occurring diamond will not. The untrained and naked eye is unlikely to be able to see these differences.
Does it Matter?
For all intents and purposes, there is little difference between each gemstone. According to the South China Morning Post, lab-grown diamonds are now so sophisticated that only high tech geology tools can detect the difference, negating the ability of jewellery experts and mineralogists to make the distinction. The key difference comes in marketing; according to Reuters, De Beers are keen to preserve the mystique and prestige of a gemstone naturally occurring in the earth’s crust, and have marketed lab-grown gems accordingly. Lab grown diamonds were frequently yellow or brown tinted due to the inability to flush out contaminants like nitrogen; new processes has stopped this being an issue.
The Ethical Edge
The first consideration when purchasing a gemstone will be its quality. Increasingly, however, consumers are starting to consider the impact of their purchases in ethical terms. Lab grown diamonds provide the perfect foil to this. As The National have outlined, the diamond trade has cleaned up its act a lot since the civil war in Sierra Leone. However, countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo continue to produce diamonds for the global industry while undergoing civil turmoil. A lab-grown diamond offers a more guilt free purchase.
What’s your choice? The prestige and allure of a naturally occurring rock, or the better price and indistinguishable quality of a synthetic gemstone? Whichever way you look at it, having the variety and choice in the market is only a good thing.