Lab-grown diamonds challenged the market for diamond jewellery. Now, even royalty like Meghan Markle donned drop earrings with diamonds grown in the lab. It’s become a practical and ethical choice.
Lab-grown diamonds (LGD) are as real as any earth-grown diamond. To make an LGD, you’d need a slither of an earth-grown diamond as a seed to grow a bigger, less expensive diamond. LGDs check all the boxes to the consumer—price, design, and quality.
Still, natural diamonds are yet to lose their appeal among purchasers who consider their rarity. On the other hand, high-quality manufactured diamonds have become increasingly accessible and affordable. As supply increases for lab-grown diamonds, the Diamond Productions Association shared how the price of natural diamonds started to appreciate.
If you’re in the market for wedding rings, you may want to consider the advantages and disadvantages before purchasing a diamond wedding ring. Let’s take a look at some of them:
The ‘More for Less’ allure is an age-old marketing strategy LGD manufacturers use. LGD makers attract buyers with bigger cuts of high-carat diamonds without breaking the bank. Improving the technology used to create LGDs paved the way for rapid and cheap lab-grown diamonds without compromising quality. Antwerp World Diamond Centre revealed how the LGD process cost USD $4,000 per carat in 2008. Lab diamonds now cost around USD $500 with the new technology.
Loose diamonds carry the appeal of authenticity, created by nature over billions of years. While natural diamonds form in the Earth’s mantle for 1 to 3 billion years, LGDs can be made in 6 to 8 weeks.
Though structurally identical, there is a slight difference in the composition of natural versus synthetic diamonds. Earth-grown diamonds contain nitrogen which lab diamonds don’t have.
A side-by-side comparison of the two types of diamonds can make a gemologist reach out for special equipment called a diamond tester. Both natural and lab diamonds score a 10 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. Still, lab diamonds are not equal, and some are more flawless than others, depending on quality.
Lower clarity lab-grown diamonds may come with marks that are not typical in natural diamonds. While both types can be colourless in different sizes, gemologists have noted ‘inclusions’ in lower clarity LGDs. Feathers, pin-points, and clouds may appear on natural and lab diamonds.
But crystal strain, flux-like, and small metallic inclusions are more a sign of lesser clarity of a diamond. Also, such diamonds may still bear a black certification number which would have been laser-engraved onto it.
Those in the market for the perfect wedding ring may soon find more to consider during the buying process than price and style. While the thousands-dollar worth of natural diamond continues its appeal; lab diamonds have their market. Millennial and GenZ buyers primarily take a more practical approach and other priorities. These consumers may also demand social and environmental responsibility.
On the other hand, earth-grown diamonds are finite. The market for LGDs may not necessarily care that the supply for lab diamonds only continues to grow by the day. Hence, it becomes less exclusive to own a lab diamond–not that its target buyers would care much. These price-sensitive buyers focus on accessibility to bigger diamonds for less money.
While there may be buyback options for high-quality lab diamonds, resale value is zero for the majority. The reason is that the supply is finite and may exceed the demand. Meanwhile, mined diamonds’ average resale value is at least 20% to 50% of their purchase price.
Yet, Marty Hurwitz of MVI Marketing, the consulting firm analyzing the global gem, jewellery, and watch industries, shared notes on diamonds as an asset. Hurwitz said that while some rare diamonds may appreciate, the typical natural diamond would still devalue upon purchase.
There remains inadequate and inaccurate data in comparing the carbon footprints of mined and lab-grown diamonds. Mining diamonds may require diesel and heavy machinery. Meanwhile, advanced methods in making LGDs like the Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) process may require lesser extreme temperatures and pressure than the previously used HPHT (high-pressure, high temperature) technology. More research is necessary to determine the environmental impact of both types of diamonds.
It all boils down to priority when choosing between natural and lab diamonds. If you are not even considering reselling and simply access to bigger, less expensive diamonds, LGDs are a popular option. The look, quality, and feel are identical except when dealing with lower clarity LGDs.