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1. Lab-Grown Diamonds
The best alternative to a mined diamond is a man-made diamond. What makes lab-grown the best diamond alternative? The fact is that it's actually a real diamond. These diamonds are chemically, physically, and optically the same as diamonds that come from the earth. However, they’re an eco-friendly alternative that provides couples with peace of mind knowing that their diamond was 100% ethically sourced. When it comes to high-quality diamond alternatives, there is simply nothing else on the same level as lab-grown diamonds.
Although it may seem that lab-grown diamonds were only recently discovered, a variation of these stones has actually been around since the 1950s, when General Electric discovered the technology to create them. Thirty years later, gem-quality man-made diamonds became much more widely available. However, it wasn’t until just a few years ago that the quality, craftsmanship, and precision arose to what it is today. In terms of cut, color, clarity, and carat, lab-grown diamonds are indistinguishable compared to mined diamonds, as they’re cut, polished and graded at the same caliber as their mined counterparts — making them an increasingly popular choice for engaged couples.
Although lab-created diamonds are the same as mined diamonds in regards to their look, chemical makeup, and visual characteristics, the steps it takes to move the stones from production to customer is slightly shorter. This is part of the reason that lab-grown diamonds can be a 20-40% less expensive mined diamond alternative. The end result? A diamond alternative that’s actually better than the original (at least to your wallet). Clean Origin is also a direct to consumer brand, meaning there are no middlemen between our products and our customers. This is how we’re able to offer such competitive pricing on all of our diamonds — even when compared to other man-made gemstones.
There are three main benefits to lab-grown diamonds: their price, how they’re sourced, and their effect (or lack thereof) on the environment.
As mentioned above, this diamond alternative can save couples large sums of money by reducing by 20-40%, as compared to a mined diamond of similar quality. There are a few ways to look at these savings.
1. You can pocket that 20-40% and save your money for future expenses, such as your wedding.
2. You can upgrade your ring with those savings. For example, you could get a ring that’s 20-40% larger in carat size. Or you can improve the rings cut, color or clarity.
3. You can purchase your wedding day jewelry, such as diamond stud earrings, or a lab-grown diamond tennis bracelet.
The origin of man-made diamonds is what often sways an individual to buy or not to buy one of these stones. Unfortunately, many people don’t understand that lab-grown diamonds are the same as mined diamonds and see them instead as something ‘less than.’ By not doing any research, an individual might purchase a mined diamond without fully grasping the potential impact it can have. Many diamonds come from regions that are politically unstable. When you purchase a mined diamond, it’s extremely hard, if not impossible, to trace it with any sort of accuracy from its country of origin. In fact, the only way to be absolutely 100% sure that a diamond was ethically sourced is to buy a lab-grown diamond.
Finally, it’s important to look at the benefits lab-created diamonds have on our environment. Although energy is still used to make a man-made stone, it’s far less than the energy used in the excavation of mined diamonds. In fact, a study showed that mined diamonds use 538.5 million joules per carat, while grown ones use 250 million -- that’s less than half. Mined diamonds also lead to more carbon emissions and produce more waste.
In terms of mined-diamond alternatives, it’s often common for individuals to confuse lab-grown diamonds with moissanite. Although both are grown in a lab, they couldn’t be more different. While diamonds are formed when carbon is put under high heat and high pressure (either in the earth or in a lab), moissanite gems are actually made from a completely different element: silicon carbide. Here are a few things to help you better understand the diamond vs. moissanite differences.
This diamond alternative was actually discovered over 100 years ago by a French scientist named Henri Moissan. Although he thought he had found diamonds inside of a fallen meteor, it turned out that the crystals were actually silicon carbide and thus was born Moissanite. However, since meteors don’t fall from the sky at a particularly consistent rate, this element is extremely rare, which is why today’s moissanite stones are generated in a lab.
When it comes to price, moissanite gems are dramatically cheaper than diamonds (mined or lab-grown). Generally, the price of moissanite diamond alternatives are based simply on their size and color. A one-carat moissanite can vary from $250 to $600.
One of the biggest benefits of moissanite stones as diamond alternatives is their durability. A diamond is the hardest mineral and sits at a 10 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness. Moissanites are just below diamonds at 9.25. For a couple looking for an affordable diamond alternative, a moissanite can be a wonderful choice.
The brilliance of moissanite is often what deters individuals from choosing this stone. With a refractive index of 2.65 to 2.69 — compared to diamonds at 2.42 — moissanite can have quite a bit of shine that can be overbearing to some.
For a lot of couples who have a tight budget, a moissanite gemstone is a great placeholder until they can afford a diamond.
3. Cubic Zirconia
Similar to moissanite, cubic zirconia gems are also created in a lab due to their limited supply in nature. Made from the cubic crystalline form of zirconium dioxide, CZs are another inexpensive diamond alternative.
The history of CZs actually goes back quite a bit. The mineral that creates these stones, zirconium oxide, was found in 1892, but the potential of the gem had yet to be discovered. Once scientists realized that this mineral was a refractory material (it did not lose any strength when subjected to heat), uses began to emerge. In the late 1930s, two scientists realized that the melted zirconium oxide contained cube-like crystals, but they did not see any use for the find and simply ignored it.
It wasn’t until the 1960s when uses for these crystals in the industrial industry surfaced. Interestingly enough, CZ’s did not really make an impact in the jewelry market until Swarovski designed their own version of the gemstone in the 1980s, making CZ a relatively new alternative to diamond for engagement rings.
For couples who love a bargain, CZs are the cheapest of these diamond alternatives and can often be purchased anywhere from $30-$200 depending on size. CZs carry very little market value.
Just like moissanites, one of the biggest benefits to CZs is their price. Although nowhere close to a diamond in terms of characteristics, cubic zirconias are a wonderful diamond alternative for a very tight budget.
When it comes to durability, CZs only rates an 8.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness. For this reason, CZs can become scratched and look cloudy over time. They also have a higher dispersion rate and no real visual brilliance. This makes them reflect an excess of colored light, resulting in what’s called a "rainbow effect".
4. White Sapphire
White Sapphire is another less-expensive diamond alternative. Sapphire is the second-hardest natural gemstone, coming in at a 9 on the Mohs hardness scale. A diamond is a 10, so sapphire is quite scratch and damage resistant. A white sapphire gem is typically less-expensive than yellow, pink, and blue sapphires due to demand, although they are rarer. Here are a few more things to know about White Sapphire.
Sapphires have been used in engagement rings since the 14th century, when royal families would use a “ring of betrothal,” much like a promise ring. During the 18th and 19th centuries, sapphires were more expensive than diamonds due to demand. During that time, there was a flood of diamonds on the market, driving up prices for other stones like sapphires, as they were thought to be rarer. Since then, prices have again returned to normal, and white sapphires have become a common choice for couples who want something different than a traditionally-minded diamond.
White sapphires are about half the price of blue sapphires and much cheaper than mined diamonds. In fact, a mined diamond can be 4 to 5 times more expensive than an all-natural AAA grade white sapphire, making white sapphires an economically feasible alternative to diamonds
The white sapphire vs diamond price difference is drastic, and that is one pro that white sapphire has over diamonds. Another pro is that white sapphire is pretty rare. You won’t find a lot of other people with the same stone as you if you purchase a sapphire ring.
However, that is just about all that white sapphires have over diamonds. Although white sapphires are fairly durable diamond alternatives, diamonds are still much harder, making them more scratch resistant. Diamonds also have a clearer color and are more brilliant, making them stand out more in the light. When you buy a man-made diamond, you also don’t have to worry about where the stone was sourced from. A white sapphire, just like a mined diamond, could have some unethical practices involved in its sourcing, which you can avoid with Clean Origin.