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Differences Between Lab Grown and Natural Diamonds

by Adriana Perez-Nakamura
Last updated on September 18, 2023
Differences Between Lab Grown and Natural Diamonds

Even though lab grown diamonds and natural diamonds have identical characteristics, the differences between them are worlds apart. One is grown in a lab within weeks and the other forms in the Earth for billions of years; one is arguably better for the Earth and the other causes harm. Which would you choose?

Read on to learn more about lab grown vs natural diamonds, and why lab diamonds are quickly becoming the more popular option.

What Are Diamonds?

Diamonds are one of the most admired gemstones in the world. They dazzle with an exceptional combination of brilliance, fire, and scintillation. Chemically, diamonds are composed entirely of carbon crystallized under immense heat and pressure deep underground.

Their strong, dense atomic structure makes diamonds the hardest known natural material. They score a 10 on the Mohs scale of hardness.

It takes diamonds billions of years to form in the earth’s mantle. And over time, volcanic eruptions push them to the Earth’s surface where they can be mined.

Industrial and Cultural Uses of Diamonds

With their incredible hardness, diamonds are incredibly useful for industrial purposes. Sharp diamond edges allow for cutting, drilling, and polishing tasks not possible with other materials.

Diamonds play crucial roles in construction, stonecutting, dentistry, surgery and various manufacturing processes.

Meanwhile, their dazzling brilliance grants them cultural significance in jewelry, particularly engagement rings. Diamonds balance utility with mystique, making them both vital resources and exquisite luxuries. Their combined industrial toughness and beauty help to uphold their value.

Diamonds and Their Historical Significance

Diamonds have been prized by different cultures around the world for centuries. Differences Between Lab Grown and Natural Diamonds.

For thousands of years, diamonds have intrigued people around the world with their legendary strength, seemingly mystical origins, and stunning beauty.

Ancient civilizations prized the diamond stone’s sparkle, often believing them to grant inner strength because of their durability. And in many cultures, people believed diamonds had medicinal powers.

Diamonds and Royalty

From Indian royalty adorning themselves for centuries with polki diamonds, to the British royal family who own the Crown Jewels featuring Cullinan diamonds, the preciousness, rarity, and high cost of diamonds eventually made them symbols of status, wealth, and romance.

Diamond Engagement Rings Weren’t Always the Standard

The concept of the engagment ring has been around for centuries. However, diamond engagement rings became the standard in the early 1900s after De Beers introduced their highly successful, “a diamond is forever” campaign.

Before then, diamonds engagement rings were not common. In fact, at that time diamond prices were falling quickly. De Beers set out to reverse that course with their now iconic campaign.

According to an article from The Atlantic, the campaign was so successful that: “From 1939 to 1979, De Beers’s wholesale diamond sales in the United States increased from $23 million to $2.1 billion.”

How Natural Diamonds Form

Natural diamonds originate in the Earth’s mantle deep underground, where they grow in an environment of immense heat and pressure.

At these extreme depths, the intense heat and pressure crystallize carbon into diamond’s distinct cubic form. With the help of volcanic eruptions diamonds then make their way to the Earth’s surface over time, where they are eventually mined.

Characteristics of Natural Diamonds

Diamonds are made of carbon and are one of the hardest known natural materials in the world. On the Mohs scale of hardness, diamonds score a 10. Ten is the highest score a material can receive.

Made From Carbon

Diamonds are the only gem made from one element: carbon. In fact, a diamond is usually about 99.95% carbon. The remaining .05% is composed of trace elements, some of which can affect the diamond’s crystal shape and color.

Color Variations

If a diamond has impurities, they can create various colors including clear, yellow, brown, pink, blue, and green. These subtle mineral traces give natural diamonds a distinct personality.


No two diamonds are ever the same. Irregularities like crystals or minerals trapped within a diamond while it forms creates one-of-a-kind inclusions, making all natural diamonds unique.

Mining and Extraction of Natural Diamonds

Diamond mining extracts diamonds from deep in the Earth. Unfortunately, diamond mining has immense negative environmental impacts. In order to mine diamonds from the Earth, a large amount of power and water are necessary. And the carbon emissions produced for each karat of diamond is astounding.

The Science Behind Lab Grown Diamonds

Lab diamonds are created in a controlled environment of intense heat and pressure.

Lab grown diamonds, also called synthetic diamonds, are man-made diamonds created in a lab under strictly controlled conditions. They are often confused with diamond simulants like a cubic zirconia, but a cubic zirconia is not a diamond.

Through advanced technological processes simulating natural diamond formation, scientists can produce diamonds with the same chemical, optical, and physical properties as mined diamonds.

Methods Used to Create Lab Grown Diamonds

High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT)

Mimicking natural conditions in which natural diamonds grow deep underground, an HPHT press subjects carbon material to extreme temperatures and force on a diamond seed. This combination of heat and pressure on the seed produces lab created diamonds.

Beautifully Colored Diamonds

HPHT diamonds are known to have exceptional color. And in addition to it being a method for producing lab diamonds, the HPHT method creates diamonds with some of the highest color grades you can find.

The high pressure high temperature method can also create colored diamonds like yellow, brown, pink, and blue.

Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD)

The CVD method deposits plasma with carbon-rich gases onto diamond seed crystals in order to make a lab grown diamond. As the layers build up, they add mass to the diamond.

Environmental and Ethical Considerations

Diamond mining makes a lot of money for companies. But it damages the environment and nearby communities, too. In order to retrieve diamonds from deep underground, mining companies use big machines, explosives, and hydraulic tools that are tough on the land.

Before they even start, the companies cut down tons of trees to clear space. This adds to deforestation, which causes more global warming, soil erosion, loss of plants and animals, and turning forests to deserts.

So while diamonds bring in money, the current mining methods hurt nature and people. There must be better ways to mine that don’t harm the planet and communities as much. Is the answer lab grown diamonds?

Let’s Compare: Lab Grown Diamonds vs Natural Diamonds

The demand for sustainable luxury jewelry is growing. Differences Between Lab Grown and Natural Diamonds.

Producing diamonds above ground in labs cancels out the negative environmental and ethical impacts of mining like deforestation, pollution, conflict diamonds, and unethical labor practices.

Lab diamonds offer an ecologically and socially responsible choice for consumers who don’t want to spend their money on diamonds associated with environmental destruction or human rights abuses.

Growing Demand for Sustainable Luxury

Lab diamonds continue to grow in popularity, especially among socially and environmentally conscious consumers. People want beautiful things, but not at the cost of the environment. They feel better knowing the money they spend on luxury goods like diamonds isn’t going to harm the Earth or its inhabitants.

Price and Availability

Lab diamonds cost 30-50% less than natural diamonds. And while larger, higher-graded natural diamonds are rare and can be difficult to find, that’s not the case with lab diamonds.

Thanks to the precise, controlled environment in which they’re grown, it’s possible to create lab diamonds in larger carat sizes with exceptional quality.

Points to Consider When Choosing Between Lab-Grown and Natural Diamonds

With so much information available on diamonds, it can be overwhelming to decide whether you should choose natural or lab grown. Let’s take a look at some more of these considerations in detail.

Natural Diamonds Don’t Always Hold Their Value

If you expect to sell a mined diamond later on for a profit, you may want to think again. The majority of diamonds purchased by the average consumer will not hold their value, and they will unlikely be worth more than what you first paid.

In the case of investments, the only likely scenario in which you would make money from selling a diamond in the future is if you own a large, rare, and high-quality stone.

Your Budget

Lab diamonds grant bigger/better quality diamonds for the money. You can purchase a lab grown diamond for 30-50% less than a mined diamond, and the lab diamond will sparkle just as beautifully.

Personal Values and Beliefs

Natural diamond buyers value prestige and gemstone purism, but at what cost? On the other hand, those wanting eco-friendly, conflict-free origins prefer lab diamonds.

Lab Created Diamond Shopping Tips

Know the 4Cs of diamonds before you shop.

Know the 4Cs of Diamonds

Lab created diamonds are already an excellent value because they’re 30-50% less expensive than mined diamonds. But to get the absolute best value for your money take some time to learn the 4Cs of diamonds.

The 4Cs grading system was created by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in order to standardize the diamond grading system. Within this system system, diamonds receive color, cut, carat weight, and clarity grades.

You don’t need choose a diamond with the highest grade in each of these categories in order to have something beautiful–that would be actually be very expensive!

Once you know the details of each category you have the knowledge you need in order to balance the most important qualities for you. When you can find that happy medium, you can save money.

Ask for Certification Documents

Established retailers should be able to provide certificates for the diamonds they sell. There are several trusted laboratories that inspect and certify diamonds, inlucing the GIA and AGS.

A diamond certificate will show the grades it received in each 4C category, as well as if the diamond has had any modifications. The diamond’s certificate will also indicate if it’s lab grown–among other details.

When you have an authentic diamond certificate from a reputable lab, you can ensure you’re getting a fair price for your diamond. You can also use that certificate to get insurance coverage for your diamond.

Warranty and Return Policies

Reputable sellers offer reasonable return windows and lifetime repair policies.

At Clean Origin, we have impressive warranties and return policies. Our 100-Day Return Policy is especially generous, and offers a full refund or exchange with 100 days if you’re not 100% happy with your purchase.

Be sure to read the full details on our outstanding return policy, here.

The Future of Lab Diamonds

Advancing technology constantly pushes the boundaries of lab diamond creation. With innovations lowering lab diamond costs, lab grown could become the norm — reducing destructive mining and allowing access to diamonds to people beyond the wealthy.

And while lab created diamonds test the limits of what some people think “real diamonds” are, they are indeed real. Not only are they real, they’re also ethical and environmentally-friendly; they’re the clearest choice for many and will continue to be for generations.

Clean Origin Lab Grown Diamonds

Shop in-store or online with us, today!

No matter if you’re shopping for a diamond engagement ring or loose lab grown diamonds, real-life diamond experts are on board to help. Schedule a virtual appointment with our knowledgeable staff or visit a showroom to get started on finding the diamond jewelry of your dreams, today.