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Pros and Cons of Lab Grown Diamonds: Are They Worth It?

by Chante Walker
Last updated on October 16, 2023
Pros and Cons of Lab Grown Diamonds

Lab grown diamonds have exploded in popularity in recent years as an ethical, affordable alternative to mined diamonds. Sparkling with the same optical brilliance, these man-made gems provide consumers with a compelling option for jewelry. However, the rise of lab diamonds has also sparked debate. Are they truly identical to natural diamonds? What are the pros and cons of lab grown diamonds as opposed to mined?

In this article, we’ll provide an in-depth examination of the advantages and disadvantages of lab created diamonds. Weighing factors like environmental impact, cost, quality, and more, we aim to analyze the key considerations objectively. Our goal is to synthesize the available research so readers can make informed decisions when choosing between natural and lab grown diamonds.

While mined diamonds hold prestige as an enduring gemstone, the technology behind lab diamonds offers exciting new possibilities.

Lab grown diamonds boast significant benefits, from sustainable production to greater supply chain transparency. However, questions remain about factors like resale value and sentimental worth. By exploring the full range of pros and cons, this article offers a balanced perspective on the lab diamond debate so consumers can determine the best option for their individual needs.

The Pros of Lab Grown Diamonds

Pros and Cons: Lab Created Diamond Rings

Lab grown diamonds offer a number of advantages that make them an enticing alternative to natural diamonds. For many consumers today, the ethical and environmental benefits are at the top of that list.

Environmentally Friendly

Lab grown diamonds have a significantly lower environmental impact than mined diamonds. Mining for natural diamond notoriously decimates land and exploits large quantities of water and energy. The immense pits and machinery are required to disrupt ecosystems and wildlife. In contrast, lab diamond production emits far less waste and greenhouse gases. For instance, studies show it takes 250 million joules to produce a 1-carat lab diamond versus 1 billion joules to mine the equivalent natural stone. That makes lab diamonds the more sustainable, earth-friendly choice.


Lab diamonds also shine when it comes to human ethics. The legacy of conflict or “blood” diamonds still plagues much of the diamond industry today. However, lab diamonds guarantee consumers receive responsibly produced gems free of unethical mining practices or zero carbon footprint counterfeit certification. No human rights abuses, unsafe working conditions, or exploited labor are associated with their manufacturing.

Lower Cost

Of course, cost is also a major advantage. Lab grown diamonds retail for 20-40% below the price of comparable natural diamonds. This discount comes mainly from efficiency, eliminating all the costs associated with mining, like land, labor, security, and equipment. The difference allows consumers to get bigger, better-quality diamonds for their budget.

Customizable Characteristics

Lab diamond producers can grow gems with customized characteristics. Manufacturing controls like pressure, temperature, and growth time alter the size, color, and other attributes. This means consumers can personalize stones for jewelry or industrial use. While nature’s supply of mined diamonds is finite, labs can recreate or improve upon any diamond on demand.

The Cons of Lab Grown Diamonds

Despite their advantages, lab created diamonds also come with some potential drawbacks to consider. While lab diamond technology has improved tremendously, there are still limitations compared to exceptional natural diamonds.

Rare to Find the Highest Possible Diamond Grading

One drawback is that the highest diamond color and clarity grades remain elusive in lab production. Most mined diamonds with top-color designations come from a few elite diamond miners. Recreating these levels of perfection in a lab proves extremely difficult, especially for larger carats. So, those seeking the pinnacle of diamond quality will find more options among natural stones.

Availability of Larger Carat Weights

Lab grown diamonds currently max out around 3 carats for traditional shapes. While processes are always improving, nature still produces the rarest and largest diamonds. Mined diamonds offer a uniqueness that man-made stones have yet to rival.

Range in Societal Perception of Lab Diamonds

Traditional diamonds are still associated with luxury, rarity, and heirloom quality. Lab diamonds may feel less precious or romantic for engagement rings to some who do not consider them to be real diamonds. Concurrently, their resale value isn’t as established or guaranteed as natural stones. So, those buying diamonds strictly as investments may be deterred.

Does Not Entirely Escape Energy Consumption

While more eco-friendly than mining, producing lab diamonds does still entail energy consumption. Continued advances in renewable sources can further reduce the carbon footprint. However, there’s a limit to the environmental gains possible for any manufacturing process.

How Lab Grown Diamonds Compare to Natural Diamonds

Pros and Cons: Lab Grown vs. Mined Diamond Comparison

When it comes to physical and chemical characteristics, lab diamonds are identical to their mined counterparts. They share the same carbon structure, hardness, brilliance, and refractive index. Even under magnification, gemologists cannot distinguish man-made from mined diamonds without specialized equipment. The main difference lies in their origin beneath the earth versus inside a lab. All things considered, they are real diamonds.

Pricing varies between the two – on average, lab diamonds retail for 20-30% less than natural diamonds of equivalent size and quality. The lower price stems from more efficient production without mining expenses. However, very small or uniquely colored lab diamonds can sometimes exceed the cost of small natural stones. The supply dynamics differ.

Initially, the jewelry industry shunned lab diamonds as “not real.” However, as technology improved, many jewelers changed their stance. Today, most jewelers offer both lab and mined diamonds. Some even optimize their inventory by selling lab diamonds set in fine jewelry. The once negative attitude has shifted to accommodate consumer demand.

The Federal Trade Commission requires jewelers to disclose lab diamonds as such. Terms like “cultured” or “cultivated” may be used. Unique certification numbers also track man-made diamonds to confirm their lab origin. While sentimental value may favor mined diamonds to some consumers, lab diamonds compete in terms of practical qualities. Their shared characteristics and lower prices continue fueling the lab diamond market.

Lab diamonds match or beat their natural counterparts in most areas besides origins and pricing. Disclosure requirements help consumers make informed choices based on personal preferences. Ultimately, consumers decide which option better aligns with their individual values and budget.

Sustainability and Environmental Impact

Ethical Jewelry

When it comes to eco-friendly gems, lab grown diamonds shine as a sustainable innovation. Producing diamonds in a controlled laboratory setting carries profound environmental advantages over conventional mining. By cultivating diamonds above ground, the substantial harms associated with extracting the gems from below ground are averted.

Consider the vast amounts of energy, water, land disruption, and chemical waste tied to diamond mining operations around the world. Extracting rough diamonds requires excavating massive pits and undertaking invasive tunneling deep into kimberlite pipes. This intensive process disturbs ecosystems, destroys habitats, and leaves permanent scars on the surrounding environs.

In contrast, engineering diamonds with advanced technology is far less invasive and destructive. Lab created diamond producers employ renewable energy and recycle water to minimize their environmental footprint. The ability to manufacture diamonds where needed also eliminates the need for extensive transport and shipping from remote mines.

Of course, lab diamond production still requires energy and materials. Continuous refinement of the most efficient and eco-friendly cultivation techniques remains vital. Nevertheless, the environmental merits of lessening extraction activities by meeting demand through lab diamonds appear quite convincing. For those who cherish diamonds but not the lasting damage of mining, opting for an environmentally and socially responsible lab grown diamond offers the best of both worlds.

Consumer Tips

Ethical Diamond Jewelry

Lab grown gems for discerning diamond buyers present an exciting new option and some important factors to consider. When navigating this emerging category, you should look for clear information and indicators of quality.

Lab Diamonds Are Not Diamond Simulants

Let’s clear up a common misconception: Lab created diamonds are not imitation gems or diamond simulants like cubic zirconia. Simulants are made of entirely different materials formulated to resemble diamonds. Ultimately, lab diamonds are actual diamonds at the molecular level.

Reliable Certifications

Start by examining independent certification from respected gemological institutes like GIA or IGI. A reputable grading report verifies the diamond’s authenticity and provides a credible evaluation of its 4Cs. Be sure to buy from retailers who offer IGI or GIA reports and have return policies for validation. The quality metrics should match the retailer’s claims.

Optimal Grades

Color Grade Chart

Shopping for certified lab diamonds with optimal cut, color, and clarity grades helps guarantee brilliance and fire comparable to top-tier mined diamonds. Seek at least a Very Good cut, D-F colorless range, and flawless clarities for the best optics. Considering Carat Weight, understand that lab diamonds over 1 carat remain quite rare and carry higher prices.

Production Transparency

Transparency about a lab diamond’s production and origin is also key. Reputable brands share details about their provenance and growth methods. Ask if the diamond was created using advanced CVD or HPHT techniques to ensure exceptional quality.