Lab grown diamonds are harder and more expensive than their natural counterparts, but it can be tricky to tell the difference between the two. While they may have different physical properties, lab-grown diamonds generally have the same chemical properties as natural diamonds. With the right tools, though, you can tell them apart with little difficulty. Here’s how to tell if your diamond was made in a lab or naturally mined from the earth!
How Do I Determine If It’s Natural?
According to Brilliant Earth, a New York-based online retailer that sources certified lab diamonds and authentic conflict-free diamonds, all of its stones have certificates from AGL International or Gemological Science International (GSI). GSI is accredited by AGL International as a diamond grading laboratory. If someone’s trying to sell you lab-grown diamonds without either one of these certifications, says CEO Shari Dunn, you’re probably not looking at real lab diamonds.
However, she does note that with naturally coloured CVD stones — those grown in blue or yellow — there are ways for her team to tell if they’ve been treated postproduction. We can look at them under magnification, she explains. If we see an inclusion [an imperfection] that shouldn’t be there, then we know it was created in a lab. In other words, don’t assume that just because it looks natural it’s natural. There are many factors to consider when determining whether or not your stone is real — including colour, clarity and cut — so make sure you do your research before making any purchases.
What Are Synthetic Diamonds?
Lab diamonds (or synthetics) are gemstones created in a laboratory setting that share many of the same properties as mined diamonds. While many lab-created gems are completely indistinguishable from their natural counterparts, lab diamonds aren’t real diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds may offer similar physical characteristics, but don’t pass muster when it comes to appraising criteria such as carat weight, colour, clarity and cut grade. The real deal: Diamonds that were formed at high temperatures and pressures deep within Earth are called naturally occurring or mined stones. These gems are considered 100 per cent natural – they contain no trace of manmade materials – so they’re inarguably real diamonds. But remember; not all mined diamonds are alike!
Are Lab Diamonds Cheaper Than Natural Diamonds?
In some cases, it’s true: lab diamonds can sometimes be cheaper than natural diamonds. But how much cheaper? In most cases, lab diamonds are still very expensive. And while they’re an excellent option for someone who wants a diamond but doesn’t want to spend as much money, their price tag isn’t always one-tenth of what a similar-sized natural diamond would cost.
You should also keep in mind that lab diamonds are often low quality: many don’t have identifying certifications, making them impossible to sell or exchange in case you ever need to do so. The bottom line is that lab diamonds aren’t necessarily cheap—but they are good alternatives if you know exactly what you want and don’t mind paying extra for a lower carbon footprint.
How Can I Distinguish Between Synthetic Diamonds And Lab-Grown Diamonds?
Lab diamonds are also referred to as man-made, cultured, created or synthetic diamonds. These terms can be confusing because they can be used interchangeably with one another. The meaning is usually clear from the context; for example, if you hear a scientist use cultured, she is referring to a lab-grown diamond or gemstone but synthetic usually refers to a chemical created in a lab setting (e.g., synthetic rubber). On occasion you will see references to CVD diamonds, which stands for chemical vapour deposition—but that only refers specifically to diamonds grown in labs using that process and not general lab-grown gems or real diamonds.
Lab diamonds look identical to mined diamonds: A diamond’s cut, clarity and colour are what make it unique. Cut refers to how well a stone has been polished so it reflects light properly; clarity describes how free of imperfections like cracks or clouds a stone is; colour measures how much yellow tinting it has. Synthetic/lab-grown diamonds have all these same characteristics as mined stones do, but their price tag tends to be significantly lower than their natural counterparts. This is because there’s no need for costly mining equipment, labour costs associated with digging deep into the earth or extensive safety precautions when growing them in controlled lab settings versus harsh conditions found underground.