Back to Blog

What is the Difference Between Lab Grown Diamonds and Natural Diamonds?

The discussion surrounding lab diamonds vs natural diamonds has been a prickly debate for several years.
What is the Difference Between Lab Grown Diamonds and Natural Diamonds?

The discussion surrounding lab diamonds vs natural diamonds has been a prickly debate for several years. Jewellers and activists worldwide have contrasting ideas about the topic. There has been a lot of hype and marketing from both sides of the argument, making it difficult to come to a fully informed conclusion. 


When one says a diamond is natural, they refer to the organically occurring mineral mined from Mother Earth. Laboratory or lab-grown diamonds are synthetically made in an environment that man completely controls.   


For the average person looking to purchase diamond jewellery of any type, it is a good idea to consider the differences and similarities before making a final decision on whether to go for a natural diamond or a lab diamond. 



Do Lab Diamonds Look Different to Natural Diamonds 

Lab-grown diamonds and mined diamonds are identical to the naked eye. If one were presented with two diamonds of the same cut, colour, clarity and carat and asked to differentiate between the lab and the natural, it would be virtually impossible.  


Slight inclusions that aren't present in natural diamonds can be present in lab-grown diamonds; however, it is very rare for these inclusions to be visible to the naked eye – one would need a microscope to see them.  


In practically every case, a lab diamond will have the same brilliance, which is the way the diamond interacts and refracts light, as a natural diamond. They will also shine the same way, so in terms of physical appearance to the naked eye, the two different types of diamond are fundamentally identical, and unless you were to disclose to someone which of the two yours is, they would never know. 


Lab Grown Diamond



Is there a Price Difference Between Natural Diamonds and Lab Grown Diamonds? 

The lab-grown diamond price is constantly fluctuating. Around five years ago, lab diamonds were, on average, 25% more expensive than natural diamonds. However, today it is natural diamonds that are the significantly pricier option.   


This difference is directly influenced by supply. Natural mined diamond supply is limited due to the billions of years it takes for diamonds to be created organically in nature. In comparison, synthetically produced diamonds have a limitless supply as they can be produced repeatedly in a factory. This drives the price down as the supply increases, and vice versa for natural diamonds.   


The price of man-made diamonds is falling at an alarming rate and shows no sign of slowing down or stopping. This price difference is an essential factor for many people who are deciding between the two. Natural diamonds are so expensive nowadays that those with lower budgets often opt to go for lab-grown, as you can get the same carat, cut, clarity and colour in diamond or a much lower price.   


Of course, the question is whether sporting a synthetic diamond aligns with your perception of what a diamond means to you or whether you would prefer a diamond that is naturally formed over millions of years by the Earth. This choice lies solely in your personal preference.   



The difference in Value Between Lab and Natural Diamonds 

The contrast between mined and lab diamonds in terms of their value is even starker than the price difference. Naturally mined diamonds retain approximately 50% of their initial value. On the other hand, lab-created diamonds are practically impossible to resell. You would lose a large percentage of the original value from the minute you purchase and bring home your lab diamond.   


Suppose you have decided to make an investment and buy a genuine diamond piece that you justify purchasing due to it potentially retaining or even increasing in value in the future. In that case, this is an essential factor to consider. If you hope to resell or pass on your jewellery, opting for a natural diamond is a better long-term decision. 


Lab Grown Diamond Vs Natural Diamond



Sustainability of Lab & Natural Diamonds 

The sustainability and ethics behind both methods of producing diamonds are being continuously discussed and debated. While the diamond-mining industry has had countless moral flaws that have come to light in the past, there are still some discrepancies over which diamond choice is best for the planet and human rights. 


According to some reports, including one from The Guardian, fair trade certifications have set up systems such as the Kimberly Process, which focus on preventing 'conflict diamonds from entering the mainstream rough diamond market. Processes such as this help to curb the incidence of blood diamond mining, where the profits would go toward military action.   


With processes like the Kimberly Process, modern-day diamond mining has improved its human-rights record however, there are claims that the lab-grown diamond industry doesn't have as high a human cost as mining and emits less carbon. 


This argument references that factories such as the ones where these synthetic diamonds would be produced usually use fossil fuels, making the production a more carbon-intensive process. The FTC issued a warning, telling jewellers not to market their synthetic diamonds as sustainable or eco-friendly, as this is not factually correct. 


There is also the humanitarian issue that creating diamonds in labs takes jobs away from the miners and impacts communities and countries whose financial industry relies heavily on diamond mining.   


Comparing the two regarding sustainability and ethics is difficult as the issues are still under scrutiny and contention. An article from the Diamond Producers Association claims that natural diamonds are, in fact, better for the environment than lab-grown, synthetic diamonds. With such vastly conflicting claims, it is difficult to ascertain which is the better option, it simply comes down to the buyer’s preference. 



Lab Vs Natural Diamonds - The Verdict 

While there is no physical difference between a naturally-grown diamond and a lab-grown diamond, the differences mentioned above should be something to ponder if you are debating between the two. 


Both sides have pros and cons, and it is crucial to consider your principles when making this decision. If your budget is small, a lab-grown diamond may be the better option though it is always worth remembering the lifetime value of the stone. 


Some may see a piece of diamond jewellery as an investment and, therefore, would be more inclined to look for a natural diamond, where over time, it will retain a much higher percentage of its value than a lab diamond. 


The decision depends totally on your priorities as a consumer, and therefore no one else can make it for you. Although you can seek advice from specialists or do your research online, at the end of the day, the important thing is that you are happy with your choice. 


If you are looking for advice or want to peruse a beautiful collection of diamond jewellery, feel free to book an appointment with us. Alternatively, you can pop into our store here in Dublin, and one of our diamond experts would be delighted to help guide your decision.   


Book an appointment with one of our diamond experts. 


Lab Grown Diamond Price