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What's the difference between Lab Grown Diamonds and Natural Diamonds?

As a Diamond Grader and Graduate of the Diploma in Diamond Technology, this is a topic that I find fascinating. Everyone has an opinion. Hopefully I can help add a bit more clarity on the subject. As always, if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me and we can go into more depth.

Lab grown diamonds have been around since the 70's when technology began to replicate the conditions needed to "grow" a diamond crystal. Intense heat and pressure is needed to create this uniquely formed mineral.

Let's look at what makes a diamond, a diamond.

Diamonds are purely Carbon. Graphite is also Carbon. What makes these different is the atomic structure of the Carbon atoms. (This is what is known as an allotrope of Carbon). The tetrahedral arrangement of the atoms is what gives diamond it's incredible properties of strength and hardness.

Deformities or impurities within the lattice structure are what cause the colour variations seen within diamonds.

Natural diamonds are formed deep within the earth. New research is revealing just how far some of these have been formed. Instead of the 'usual' 200-250km's depth, there is a new category known as SSD diamonds. Super Deep Diamonds formed up to 700kms deep.

These conditions are what's needed to be replicated when producing lab grown diamonds.

Technology advanced through the years to go from growing microcrystals used in industrial applications to finally producing the much sought after commercial grade diamond.

There are two methods of producing these.

The first is HPHT method. High Pressure, High Temperature. The second is CVD, Chemical Vapour Deposition.

Both start with a substrate of carbon, or a "Seed" for the carbon atoms to start laying down in layers to produce the larger diamond. These are grown for a specific time determined by what stage and method. For larger crystals, these grown diamonds are cleaned up and put back into their environments several times until the desired size is achieved. As these diamonds tend to still be slightly coloured, not the desired D colour- pure white, they are then treated to enhance their colours and possibly their clarity if needed.

Coloured diamonds can also be produced by mixing in the required element "contaminants" during the growth process. I'll be adding another blog about causes of colour in a later email. Stay tuned!

Environmentally, they are really on par. The energy needed to supply these major factories in China, India and Russia is supplied by the mining industry. My advice is do not buy into the argument as they are both similar.

The romanticism of natural diamonds remains. It might seem like there are alot of diamonds on the market, however, the conditions needed for natural diamond growth happened a very long time ago during the continental changes on earth. This is a finite resource that will end one day as closures of mines around the world show.

So in the end, what is the difference?

-Chemically, nothing.

-Environmentally nothing.

-Enhancement wise, this depends on the oranges to oranges rule. Natural diamonds come in so many different combinations, a top quality diamond won't need to be colour or clarity enhanced, whereas the lower grades tend to be enhanced, usually by HPHT method. This will however be disclosed on the appropriate diamond grading certificate from a reputable grading laboratory around the world.

-Price wise, lab grown diamonds have dropped drastically in price since their inception to the retail world a few years ago. However, this is due to oversupply, the disparity of the natural diamond sector, and the natural progression of an imitant or simulant.

Just remember, diamonds are a symbol of joy, love, friendship, memories and love. They are not an investment. Whether natural or lab grown, choose the path that fits best with your life and budget. As with any industry, if it looks to good to be true, it usually is. Hence why finding your family jeweller is so important.

My biggest drawcard as a traditional jeweller is my honesty and quality. As I do everything from melting to hand forging, engraving and setting there is no third party involved. I am the jeweller, the one who you speak with, design with, and ultimately makes every part of your legacy. Remakes are my main component of my business as I deal with heirloom jewellery every day. It doesn't matter how much the stone costs, its what it means to you.

As always, if you are thinking of creating your next heirloom piece, whether you have an idea or not, please don't hesitate to get in touch. I have lots of beautiful gemstones, that I have collected, in all different colours shapes and sizes. Keep an eye out for some of these soon! Click below to find out about custom makes and fill out your dream piece form.


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