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Lab Diamond vs Natural

by Sally
Last updated on October 12, 2022
lab grown diamond ring

As a leading producer of lab grown diamonds, Clean Origin is no stranger to fielding lab diamond vs. natural diamond-related questions from customers.

The most frequent questions we receive are “Can you spot the difference between a lab created diamond and a real diamond?” and “Are lab grown diamonds real?”

Are Lab Grown Diamonds Real?

Lab grown diamond bands.

These questions are somewhat misleading. This is because they are based upon the assumption that there is a significant difference between lab created diamonds vs. natural or real diamonds. Many people automatically believe that a diamond made in a lab is a fake diamond.

The truth is that no such distinction exists. In terms of chemical makeup, physical properties, and visual appearance, lab created diamonds are identical to natural diamonds.

Lab created diamonds are real diamonds. So when presented with the question “Can you spot the difference?” the best answer we can give is “You tell us.”

See for Yourself

Loose diamonds.

There’s no difference between mined natural diamonds and lab grown diamonds.

If you are skeptical or don’t understand how lab diamonds can be real, let us compare a lab diamond with a natural diamond.

We are the experts on lab grown diamonds, but we want you to put these diamonds to the test!

Below is a photo comparison between a lab grown diamond and a natural diamond from the Earth. Can you tell which is which?

Can you tell which diamond is mined vs lab grown?

Lab Diamond vs. Natural Diamond

Lab grown and mined diamonds are very hard to decipher. That’s because they are both real and they have the same clarity grades. The only difference between them lies in where they found their origin.

The Difference Between a Lab Diamond and a Natural Diamond Is Their Origin

Lab grown diamonds are not a product of cubic zirconia. Cubic zirconia is a fake diamond.

Another term for lab grown diamonds is synthetic diamonds. This name may imply that they are not real diamonds, but that is simply untrue.

You may also see white sapphire as a diamond alternative, but it is a true fake diamond. This is different from synthetic diamonds, real diamonds made in a lab.

How To Determine If Your Diamonds are Real

Loose lab created diamonds.

If you are buying loose diamonds and are concerned that they may not be real diamonds, you may try a diamond tester.

You can use this device on loose stones and diamonds to ensure that your diamond is not cubic zirconia or white sapphire. Using this tool you will weed out the fake diamonds.

Synthetic diamonds will pass the test because a man-made diamond is a real diamond.

Cubic zirconia or white topaz will not pass the test. Both natural and synthetic diamonds will pass the test. Weeding out fake stones when you are buying a used piece of jewelry is especially important. Unintentionally purchasing fake diamonds is understandably disappointing.

Cutting-edge technology replicates the natural diamond growing process. The result is a diamond that is chemically, physically, and optically the same as those produced beneath the Earth’s surface.

Properties Comparison of a Lab Diamond vs. Natural

“[Lab created diamonds] are not fakes. They’re not cubic zirconias. They have all the same physical and chemical properties of a mined diamond.”

– Stephen ­Morisseau, a spokesman for the Gemological Institute of America, a nonprofit organization that oversees the international diamond grading system.

Another term for lab created diamonds is synthetic diamonds. While not technically inaccurate, the term “synthetic” contributes to the reason people undervalue lab created diamonds. A lab grown diamond is real, not fake.

Comparing the physical and chemical properties of lab grown and natural diamonds, lab grown diamonds are, in fact, the real deal.

Lab diamonds shine just as bright as natural diamonds. Whether you’re using diamonds for industrial drill bits or eye-catching engagement rings, there’s really no substitute for a diamond.

Difference Between a Lab Grown Diamond vs. a Natural Diamond

While you can’t identify lab created diamonds versus natural diamonds by looking at them, they have some minor differences. Diamonds grown in a lab may have metallic inclusions and weak strain patterns. After cutting and polishing diamonds for fine jewelry, the physical difference is very hard to notice.

Diamond Simulants

Diamond simulants such as cubic zirconia, moissanite, and other natural stones may look similar to diamonds to the untrained eye. However, as Stephen Morisseau said, they don’t have the same chemical properties as lab created and mined diamonds.

How Is It Possible to “Grow” Real Diamonds in a Lab?

Before we talk about how lab created diamonds are made, it’s crucial to understand how real diamonds are formed. The processes are highly similar — one happens naturally while the other occurs in a lab. 

Mined Diamonds

Geologists believe diamonds formed deep within the Earth between 1 billion to 3 billion years ago. While they don’t know precisely how those diamonds came to be, they believe the process starts with carbon dioxide buried roughly 100 miles beneath the Earth’s surface.

The carbon dioxide is exposed to heat in excess of 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit and put under extreme pressure of roughly 727,000 pounds per square inch. The diamonds are then transported from deep within the Earth’s core to the surface by way of deep volcanic explosions.

These natural diamonds are then mined from deep under the Earth’s crust.

Lab Created Diamonds

There are two processes labs use to grow diamonds — High Pressure-High Temperature (HPHT) and Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD).

HPHT

One of three manufacturing processes results in HPHT diamonds: the belt press, the cubic press, and the split-sphere (BARS) press. All of these processes create an environment of extremely high temperature and pressure conducive to diamond growth.

An HPHT diamond begins as a tiny diamond seed placed into carbon. Using one of the manufacturing processes above, the seed is exposed to temperatures of about 1500 degrees Celsius and pressurized to approximately 1.5 million pounds per square inch.

The pure carbon melts and starts to form a diamond around the starter seed. Then carefully cooled to form a pure carbon diamond.

CVD

A CVD diamond begins as a thin slice of diamond seed, which is often an HPHT-produced diamond.

The seed crystal is in a small chamber filled with carbon-rich gas, like Methane and other gases. The gases are ionized into plasma using technology similar to microwaves or lasers. The ionization breaks the molecular bonds in the gases, and the pure carbon adheres to the seed crystal and slowly crystallizes.

To the naked eye, distinguishing a lab grown diamond from a natural one is impossible. It’s highly unlikely a jeweler in the professional diamond industry could determine a lab grown or mined.

While processes can identify one from the other, it is incredibly complex and typically only performed in diamond certification labs.

No, you can’t tell the difference between a lab grown diamond and a real diamond.

Tennis Bracelets with lab grown diamonds.

However, you can get a larger diamond within your budget and make a more ethical and environmentally-friendly purchase with a lab grown diamond.

So if you are looking for an engagement ring, wedding ring, or any other kind of natural stone for your jewelry, it often makes more sense to buy a manufactured diamond rather than a natural diamond — both for the benefit of your wallet and the Earth.

If you want to learn more about the difference between lab created diamonds and traditionally mined diamonds, as well as the various benefits in terms of the environment, ethical sourcing, and budget, you can read more about it here. Lab diamonds offer a real alternative to the traditional diamond market. Few people are aware of the option, but it can really benefit those who take advantage of it. After all, when the only difference is the origin, choosing a lab grown diamond over a traditionally mined one makes sense. 

Click here to learn more about Clean Origin and how our lab grown diamonds compare in terms of price, return policy, warranty, and more.

Other Frequently Asked Questions About Real Diamonds

How Can You Tell That a Diamond Is Real at Home?

Loose lab grown diamonds.

There are many different ways to tell the difference between a real diamond and a fraudulent one. One of the easiest ways to tell is through a simple water test. 

Grab an ordinary drinking glass and fill it up to three-quarters of the way with water. Place the loose gemstone in the water with care. 

The gemstone is a real diamond if it floats to the bottom. It is a fake diamond if it hovers at or below the surface. This is a simple test to see if you might have a real diamond on your hands. Remember, it will only work for loose diamonds. If set in metal, it will alter the test.

How Can You Tell If a Diamond Is a Real or Cubic Zirconia?

Lab grown diamond earrings.

Diamonds sparkle because they can bend and refract light. This occurs when light strikes the angled sides on the lower half of the gemstone. To the observer’s eye, the light refracts up through the top, flat surface of the stone. A diamond has “brilliance” when it refracts radiantly. 

Mainly due to lack of brilliance, substitutes for diamonds, such as cubic zirconia, are easily distinguishable. They cannot refract light well and may not even give off a sparkle at all. Cubic zirconia is not a real diamond. It is not a synthetic diamond either, simply an imposter.

Do Real Diamonds Sparkle Rainbow?

Lab created color diamonds.

Some people think that a sign of naturally occurring diamonds is the characteristic of sparkling like a rainbow. This is a misconception.

Natural diamonds give off a sparkle but are white, not colorful. Learning to recognize the brilliance of a diamond will be a good indication that the diamond is real. A trained professional will be able to tell a fake diamond from a real diamond. They will not be able to distinguish a lab grown diamond from a natural diamond, because both are real diamonds.