In researching options for your engagement ring, you’ve likely come across both natural and lab-grown diamonds and probably wondered, what’s the difference? Are lab-grown diamonds somehow different than their mined, natural counterparts? In this article, we reveal all the details.
How Do Lab-Grown Diamonds Differ from Natural Diamonds?
You may be surprised to know that there's very little difference between the two. Lab-grown diamonds have an identical chemical composition and structure to natural diamonds. The difference can only be seen with the help of microscopes and both diamonds have an equal play of light and luster, hardness, refraction, and density. From a chemical and gemological standpoint, their structures are the same.
How Are Lab-Grown Diamonds Created?
As you likely already know, natural diamonds were formed billions of years ago beneath the surface of the Earth. The intense heat and pressure was so strong that it caused carbon atoms to rearrange themselves and take the form of a diamond. Deep volcanic eruptions under the Earth's crust moved the diamonds closer to the surface, enabling them to be mined from massively deep craters.
Lab-grown diamonds do not go through such an arduous process. Growing lab diamonds involves advanced equipment, carbon, high temperature, and high-pressure or chemical vapor deposition, depending on the diamond produced. Like a natural diamond, the end result is completely made of carbon and the cutting and shaping process is the same for natural and lab-grown diamonds.
The History of Lab-Grown Diamonds
The first lab-grown diamonds were created by none other than GE in the 1940s under the codename "Project Superpressure". Although the process was started in the 40s, the second World War took GE's focus away from creating diamonds, and the first results weren't completed until the 1950s.
Even then, it would still be about 30 more years before the art of creating lab-grown diamonds was sufficiently advanced to create the kind of diamond worthy of a place on your finger.
The first lab-grown diamonds were rather small and typically used for industrial purposes such as high-quality cutting blades. More work, research and tests were done and the first gem-quality diamonds appeared in the early 1970s. However, even with decades of research, the first lab-grown diamonds were yellowish in color and had some inclusions in them.
It would take a great deal more research and collaboration from scientists around the world to finally create lab-grown diamonds that would surpass their natural counterparts in the three areas where it matters most: carats, cut and clarity.
Demand for Lab-Grown Diamonds
The demand for lab-grown diamonds is increasing every year, particularly with younger generations. Because of the ethical and environmental cost of diamond mining, synthetic diamonds have a greater appeal at a lower price point. In addition, the technology for creating lab-grown diamonds is continuing to evolve and improve, resulting in clearer, more lustrous diamonds.
Discover all the sophistication and elegance that diamonds have to offer by visiting our jewelry showcase at Avant Garde in Austin, Texas. Since 1976, we've helped happy couples find the perfect diamond engagement ring, as well as diamond jewelry for all occasions. Come see our extensive collection of natural and lab-grown diamonds for yourself!