Jewellery Stories
By Niki Bruce
13 Jan 2020

How to tell the difference between Real Diamonds and Lab-Grown Diamonds

Lab-grown diamonds are the latest trend in the diamond jewellery market. This new type of simulated diamond is all over the place in advertisements, in the media and in stores. But what are they really? And how do they stack up in comparison to the real thing?

the jewel box difference between Real Diamonds and Lab-Grown Diamonds MAIN

At The Jewel Box all our diamonds are Real or Natural diamonds.

What are Lab-Grown diamonds?

Basically they are simulated gems that are ‘grown’ in a laboratory that is said to replicate the natural process of creating a real diamond. They are claimed to be exactly the same optically, physically and chemically as real diamonds, only much, much cheaper. 

The idea of creating synthetic diamonds has been around since at least 1879, but it was only in the late 1990s that simulated diamonds became available at a reasonable price point and started saturating the costume jewellery market. 

the jewel box difference between Real Diamonds and Lab-Grown Diamonds engagement rings

When choosing an engagement ring, we suggest that you buy the best quality Real diamond you can afford.

More recently there has been an uptick in the technology for creating these diamonds – which are widely known as HPHT diamond or CVD diamond, after the two common production methods (referring to the high-pressure high-temperature and chemical vapour deposition crystal formation methods, respectively). This increased volume has led to man-made diamonds being sold all over the place – from online stores to malls – and also adding confusion to the retail diamond market.

The name ‘synthetic diamond’ is actually a bit of a misnomer as all the materials used to make these stones are actually ‘natural’ ie. pure carbon. However while the materials are the same, the final product is not. A Natural diamond is formed over millions of years in a geothermal environment and is relatively expensive; a man-made diamond is just that, made by man.

The preferred term for these stones, according to the Federal Trade Commission, are: “laboratory-grown, laboratory-created, and [manufacturer-name]-created”. The preferred name for a ‘real’ diamond is ‘Natural diamond’.

What are the problems with Lab-Grown Diamonds?

So, the most obvious difference between real diamonds and lab-grown diamonds is the price. Lab-grown diamonds are definitely cheaper than natural diamonds. And they’re also more available. They’re also more ‘perfect’ ie. there are no interesting inclusions or colours in the various lab stones. 

the jewel box difference between Real Diamonds and Lab-Grown Diamonds necklace

Unlike our jewellery pieces created from Real diamonds, Lab-Grown diamonds will not appreciate in value.

Most importantly lab-grown stones won’t increase in value. Natural diamonds are so valuable that they are actually an investment. Real diamonds will increase in value over time, no matter what. Lab-grown diamonds do not increase in value. What you pay for it, is basically what it is worth. However, like a new car, once bought these lab-grown diamonds automatically depreciate.

Why would you buy a Lab-Grown Diamond?

Again, basically the price. If you really, really want a huge big diamond-like stone for a piece of jewellery, then you will find it more affordable to buy a lab-grown diamond. You might also prefer a manufactured diamond if you think they are more environmentally sustainable. 

Some companies in the lab-grown diamond industry do advertise these stones as being more environmentally friendly, and sustainable due to some concerns over the mining of natural diamonds that can lead to damage to the environment. 

Historically diamond mining was perhaps not the cleanest of industries, and there have been major ethical concerns over blood diamonds and other politically sensitive stones on the market. However the majority of the world’s diamond producers are now highly regulated with severe fines and restrictions to manage environmental and ethical impact. The diamond producers are now required to substantially support the communities affected by the mining of diamonds in their homelands.

Learn more about how real diamonds are mined:

However, while the sellers of lab-grown diamonds make a big point about being ‘more sustainable’ compared to natural diamonds which are mined and then shipped around the world; those labs are actually any more sustainable. The labs rely on a great deal of energy to create the stones – and that energy is mostly supplied by coal-powered stations. Lab-grown diamonds also have to be shipped around the world, and they are moving much larger quantities than natural diamonds. So, it’s best to look out for a bit of green-washing in the marketing of lab-grown diamonds.

What to watch out for 

the jewel box difference between Real Diamonds and Lab-Grown Diamonds earrings

You don’t need to worry about these issues when you invest in Real diamonds like these stunning earrings.

So if you’ve decided you don’t want to buy a lab-grown diamond but prefer a natural diamond, you need to be aware of a few things before you buy.

1. Price

Don’t be caught out thinking that you are getting a ‘really good deal’ on a cheap large diamond. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Prices for natural diamonds will range greatly depending on the quality of the stone but are calculated by carat and can range from US$1,400 to US$14,000 per carat. 

Learn more about how to discover the quality of a diamond

2. Origin

If the seller can tell you where the stone came from, and better yet can offer a certificate of authenticity with a registered number, then it is much more likely to be real or natural diamond.

3. Advertising

Generally a real diamond seller doesn’t have to advertise its stones as being ‘natural’ since a real diamond is already as natural as you can get. If emphasis is being made about how ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ a stone is, it’s probably a lab-grown diamond.

If you are looking for real diamond jewellery, check out some of our amazing Classic Diamond pieces

To have your own bespoke piece of jewellery either remade, or created new, call us at +65 6733 4100, visit our atelier at #05-04 International Building, 360 Orchard Road, Singapore 238869; or email us on bespoke@thejewelbox.com.

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