The tradition of proposing marriage with an engagement ring dates back to Ancient Rome, with the first diamond engagement ring reported in the year 1477.
The current popularity of diamond engagement rings in the modern world is attributed to the De Beers’ campaign in 1947, backed by Hollywood stars with natural diamonds. At that time, comparing synthetic diamonds vs. natural diamonds was futile, since lab-grown diamonds were still crude and purely for industrial uses.
However, the advances of modern technology have made the distinction between natural and lab-grown diamonds practically invisible.
What Is a Lab-Created Diamond?
First and foremost, lab-created diamonds shouldn’t be confused with diamond look-alikes. Popular diamond replacements such as cubic zirconia, white sapphires, or glass crystals may look like diamonds, but are completely different crystals with distinct physical and chemical characteristics.
As suggested by its name, a lab-grown diamond is made in a lab using a method simulating the very same process of formation as that of natural diamonds while cutting the time from millions of years to several months. The process results in a stone with the same characteristics as those of natural diamonds.
Lab Diamonds vs. “Real” Diamonds: What Are the Differences?
How Are Natural Diamonds Formed?
Natural diamonds are carbon crystals formed under extreme pressure and temperature deep down the Earth’s crust. There are two lab methods emulating that natural process, known as Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) and High-Pressure-High Temperature (HPHT) processes.
Lab Processes to Create Diamonds
In the CVD process, the diamond grows from a seed diamond crystal, which is placed in a small chamber and heated to a very high temperature. When carbon-rich gases are introduced into the chamber, the carbon builds up around the seed crystal, forming a diamond identical to a mined stone.
In the HPHT process, the natural graphite, composed of carbon, is subjected to extreme pressure and temperature which turns the graphite into diamond, similar to how the mined diamonds were formed millions of years ago.
Comparison Between Lab-Grown and Natural Diamonds
Whatever lab method is used, lab-created diamonds are physically, chemically, and optically identical to mined diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds receive the same certification by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and International Gemological Institute (IGI), using the same 4C grading system. The differences between man-made and natural stones can be spotted only by trained gemologists with special equipment.
Since growing diamonds in labs requires significant amounts of energy, lab-grown diamonds also command high costs. Still, lab-grown diamonds are 20% to 50% cheaper compared to natural stones with the same 4C characteristics.
Pros and Cons of Buying a Synthetic Diamond
Even though lab-grown diamonds are virtually identical to natural stones, buying synthetic diamonds may come with its pros and cons. When comparing natural vs. synthetic diamonds, many sources often highlight the latter’s eco-friendliness as opposed to natural stones, which require mining the earth to extract just one carat of diamonds. Still, growing a diamond in a lab requires significant amounts of energy which may minimize the ecological benefits.
Lab-grown diamonds are also 100% ethical and conflict-free stones, which can be an important consideration for those who look for a symbol of eternal love and affection. Meanwhile, the Kimberley Diamond Process, uniting leading diamond mining companies around the world, has ensured that 99.8% of natural diamonds are conflict-free and ethically mined.
Last but not least, lab-grown diamonds are significantly less expensive than their mined counterparts which can allow saving wedding costs or buying a larger stone with better characteristics. On the downside, lab-grown diamonds are not unique and can be produced in large quantities, which is also one of the reasons why they don’t hold their value so well as natural stones.
Can I Propose with a Lab-Grown Diamond Ring?
Lab-grown diamonds can be a great choice for an engagement ring, but ultimately, this choice depends on your partner’s preferences. Those who seek eco-friendliness or 100% conflict-free stones may opt for lab-grown diamonds – this would also allow for saving costs, or having a bigger stone for the same price.
On the other hand, mined diamonds are natural wonders that may be appealing to those who dream about a unique stone. For some, larger unique natural diamonds can be viewed as investments or represent a value their partner puts in a relationship. At the end of the day, the comparison of man-made vs. natural diamonds is a matter of personal taste; it is a good idea to talk to your partner and find out about their preferences.
Diamond engagement rings can be serious investments, not just for a piece of jewellery, but for your relationship with your partner. Contact us at Barry’s Jewellers today to get started in your search for the perfect diamond engagement ring.
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