One of the most frequent questions we get is “Can you spot the difference between lab-created diamonds and real diamonds?”
This question is somewhat misleading. That is because lab-created diamonds are real diamonds. So to answer the question, “can you tell the difference between lab-created diamonds and “real” diamonds?” the answer is that there is no difference — they are one and the same.
However, perhaps you might also wonder if you can tell the difference between a lab-grown diamond and a mined diamond? Below is a photo of each.
Can you tell which is which?
The chances are that you couldn’t tell which diamond is a lab-grown and which is mined. That’s because they are both real diamonds, and the only difference between them lies in where they found their origin.
The only difference between lab-created diamonds and natural diamonds is their origin.
A lab-created diamond is “grown” inside a lab using cutting-edge technology that replicates the natural diamond growing process. The result is a diamond that is chemically, physically, and optically the same as those grown beneath the Earth’s surface.
Properties Comparison of Lab-Grown vs. Mined
“[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.
Sometimes, lab-created diamonds are referred to as synthetic diamonds. While not technically inaccurate, term “synthetic” may be the reason people believe lab-created diamonds are “fake.” However, lab-grown diamonds are not fake.
If we compare the physical and chemical properties of lab-grown and mined diamonds, it’s obvious lab-grown diamonds are, in fact, the real deal.
How is it possible to “grow” real diamonds in a lab?
Before we talk about how lab-created diamonds are made, it’s important to understand how mined diamonds are formed. The processes are extremely similar - only one happens naturally while the other occurs in a lab.
Geologists believe that diamonds formed deep within the Earth between 1 billion to 3 billion years ago. While they don’t know exactly how those diamonds came to be, they believe the process starts with carbon dioxide that is 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.
There are two processes labs use to grow diamonds - High Pressure-High Temperature (HPHT) and Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD).
HPHT diamonds are made using one of three manufacturing process: a belt press, the cubic press, and the split-sphere (BARS) press. All of these processes create an environment of extremely high pressure and temperature conducive to diamond growth.
An HPHT diamond begins as a small diamond seed that is 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. It is then carefully cooled to form a pure carbon diamond.
A CVD diamond begins as a thin slice of diamond seed, which is often an HPHT produced diamond. The diamond seed is placed in a sealed chamber and heated to around 800 degrees Celsius.
The chamber is filled with a carbon rich-gas, like Methane, and other gases. The gases are ionized into plasma using technology similar to that of microwaves or lasers. The ionization breaks the molecular bonds in the gases, and the pure carbon adheres to the diamond seed and slowly crystallizes.
To the naked eye - it’s impossible to distinguish a lab-grown diamond from a mined diamond.
It’s highly unlikely that a jeweler - even one that is highly skilled - could determine if a diamond is lab-grown or mined.
While there are processes that can identify one from the other, it is incredibly complex and is typically only performed in diamond certification labs.
So, to answer the original question, the answer is no - you can’t tell the difference between a lab-grown diamond and a mined diamond.
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 stone for your jewelry, it often makes more sense to buy a man-made diamond, rather than a natural diamond — both for the benefit of your wallet, and the benefit of 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 on it here. Lab diamonds offer a real alternative to the traditional diamond market that few people are aware of, but which can really benefit those who take advantage of it. If you take some time to do your research and keep an open mind, there is no reason you and your significant other cannot be some of the few who do.
Learn more about Clean Origin and how our lab-grown diamonds compare in price, return policy, warranty and more here.