The Case For and Against Lab Grown Diamonds

Posted by on Wednesday, April 26, 2017 · Leave a Comment 

A lab grown diamond is a true synthetic diamond. This means it has the same chemistry, optics and structure as a natural diamond; however it is grown in quantities in laboratories. Synthetic colored gemstones have been grown and sold since 1905 beginning with synthetic ruby, followed by synthetic sapphire in 1915, then synthetic emerald in 1946. In the 1970’s, synthetic turquoise, opal, alexandrite and quartz made their market debuts.

The General Electric Company first manufactured lab grown diamonds in 1952, but it has taken the past 60 years to perfect their manufacture and bring them to market in sizes large enough for engagement rings, pierced earrings and other types of jewelry. They are even available today in fancy intense colors, like yellow, pink and teal-blue.

Are Lab Grown Diamonds Expensive?

Yes. In fact, depending on the price charged by the jeweler for the natural diamond, a lab grown diamond may be more or less expensive than its natural counterpart. If the retail jewelry store sells at standard retail prices, lab grown diamonds are about 25% to 30% less. However, if the retail jewelry store sells at internet prices, as many do these days, the lab grown diamond is more expensive.

As a comparison, the two most popular imitation diamonds used for engagement rings are cubic zirconia (CZ) which sells for $10 to $20/carat, and Moissanite, which sells for $300 to $400 per carat. Lab grown diamonds for typical engagement ring sizes are always substantially more expensive.

Lab grown diamonds

Are They High Quality?

Lab Grown diamonds are manufactured in different qualities, which have different prices, just like natural diamonds. A professional analysis of cut, color and clarity is just as necessary as when purchasing a natural stone. No jeweler or customer can tell the difference visually, which is true of all synthetic gemstones. Local gemology labs which have experience identifying synthetic diamonds can identify some lab grown stones, depending on the method used to manufacture. However, when purchasing a lab grown synthetic diamond, it is important to receive a laboratory report from the Gemological Institute of America, for positive identification of the stone. Most sellers of these stones offer this important report to their customers.

The great majority of engagement ring couples around the world still want a natural diamond as compared to a manufactured product. Each natural diamond is unique, as is the partners and their relationship. There is no romance accompanying the purchase of a gemstone made in quantity by a machine, indistinguishable from another stone made by the same machine. Because unlimited quantities can be manufactured, there is no “permanent financial value” for this stone as a gem and unlike all natural gemstones, it is unlikely there will ever be any historical value attached to it. Owners may find it difficult to receive fair value should they wish to upgrade years later. Just the same, there are legitimate reasons that support the purchase of manufactured stone. These include protection of and respect for the environment, the desire not to own a product that may have been produced under conditions of human rights violations, and then of course the cost, when in fact the cost is less than that of the identical quality of its natural counterpart.

So far, the production and marketing of lab grown diamonds has not affected the demand for natural diamonds, perhaps because the cost is still so high. In the decades ahead, if the cost drops significantly, the world market may see an uptick in demand. Even so, those members of the public, especially some millennials, who wish to protect our environment, should be respected for their choice of the manufactured synthetic.

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