How To Choose Between a Natural and a Lab-Grown Diamond
There has been a lot of confusion about lab-grown diamonds, and at Reverence, we aim to provide transparency around this new alternative. Our goal is to explain, factually, how lab grown diamonds differ from natural diamonds and diamond simulants.
Together, we’ll explore the differences your options so that you can weigh the pros and cons of each and ultimately decide how you’d like to invest. We hope you’ll walk away from this post with the tools and information you need to make an educated choice that will lead you down the path to confidently designing your dream ring.
Types of Diamonds
When choosing a diamond, you will likely encounter three categories: natural diamonds, lab-grown diamonds (sometimes also referred to as synthetic diamonds), and diamond simulants. One is not better than another, and each offers unique benefits. While this conversation is often a very polarizing one in the luxury jewelry industry, we do our best to remain neutral. We want you to make the choice that is best for you!
We believe that the best decision is YOUR decision, and our goal is to empower you with reliable information and resources. If you’re preparing to buy or design a piece of diamond jewelry, it’s necessary that you know the differences between each of these center-stone options. We want you to be a self-assured, educated consumer!
Natural diamonds, as their name suggests, are formed organically. Earth-mined diamonds are made of carbon and are formed slowly with extreme heat and pressure over billions of years! Natural diamonds are rare and, therefore, more valuable because they take so much time to form, mine, and facet.
Natural diamond prices are at all time highs. This has caused many couples to look for alternatives that won’t break the bank – like lab-grown diamonds!
Lab-grown diamonds have the exact same optical, chemical, and physical properties as natural diamonds. However, they are created in a lab! General Electric (GE) was actually the first company to produce laboratory-grown diamonds in the 1950s!
Lab-grown diamonds are created through processes that imitate the natural method of heat and pressure, but instead of taking billions of years, they can be grown in as little as 6-10 weeks! While lab-grown diamonds have the exact same hardness, qualities, and composition as natural diamonds, they are intrinsically less rare simply because of their origin.
Fun Fact →: The GIA grades lab-grown diamonds using the same 4 C’s method to assess the quality of natural diamonds. As of 2007, they also identify the growth process used. You can learn more here.
Simulated diamonds or “diamond simulants” are not diamonds! They do not share the same properties as diamonds.
Simulated diamonds include moissanite and cubic zirconia, and they have a different chemical makeup and therefore interact with the light differently, resulting in a lack of the signature broad flashes of light that diamonds are known for. Most simulated diamonds are not as durable as diamonds; they are often not scratch-resistant, which is something to consider as you select or design a piece of jewelry you intend to wear every day and pass down as an heirloom.
Your Diamond As An Investment
If you’ve decided you’re ready to choose between a natural diamond and a lab-grown diamond, there’s a meaningful conversation we need to have:
Thinking about your diamond as a monetary investment vs. thinking of it as a keepsake and the ring as a whole as an emotional investment.
Many natural diamond companies will try to dissuade you from choosing a lab-grown diamond. You may hear that there’s not a good return on your investment. While this may be true, we’d argue the same applies to natural diamonds!
Frankly, thinking about diamonds (natural or lab-grown) as a monetary investment is a bit flawed. The general industry rule of thumb is if you were to trade in your natural diamond years down the line, you’d get a “good” return if someone is willing to purchase it for ⅕ to ⅙ of what was initially paid for the ring.
The simple answer is the market is layered, and industry vets have access to diamonds at a lower price point. They aren’t likely to buy them anywhere close to retail or wholesale values, and they will only purchase them if they can at an extreme discount.
Instead of thinking of your engagement ring as a monetary investment, I would encourage you to consider this an emotional and sentimental investment. You’re designing something that will be cherished and admired every second of every day for all eternity. Your love, your story, and your history are passed down when you age out of your ring, and I think that sentiment and meaning are something you cannot put a price on.
How To Choose The Right Diamond For You
There are so many things to consider when selecting what option is best for you. I believe that your budget, values, preferences, and priorities can act as a compass to steer you in the right direction.
I recommend our clients spend time determining what they are comfortable spending ahead of time. Having a range will help you weigh your options and explore choices that can help your money go further and work harder for you. It may also help you determine what aligns with your values and feelings around diamonds.
Once you’ve set your budget or budget range, it’s time to get PERSONAL.
Natural diamonds tend to be more expensive, while lab-grown diamonds are relatively more affordable. It’s up to you to decide what you value most.
Maybe you simply prefer natural diamonds because they are from “Mother Earth,” organic, traditional, and unique. That’s totally okay! You may also lean towards a lab-grown diamond’s efficiency and relative affordability to get the exact look you want. So awesome!
However, if you don’t notice an inclination towards one or the other, the following suggestions may help you decide what really matters most to you.
First, consider if the size of your diamond is essential to you, it’s critical to understand what a natural diamond at your budget vs. a lab-grown diamond at that price point will get you. For example, a synthetic, lab-grown diamond will allow you to get more carat weight and size. In the current market, a 1-carat natural diamond ring will cost about the same as a 1.95-carat lab-grown diamond ring.
Some prefer the natural diamond and are okay with it visually looking smaller or having a lower carat weight. In contrast, others prefer the visual impact of a larger stone and will lean towards the lower price point of a lab-grown diamond.
What’s Your Stance On Sustainability?
This is another piece to keep in mind. Natural diamonds and lab-grown diamonds can be either sustainable or unsustainable from an environmental standpoint, so it’s crucial to be informed about where you are purchasing your diamond. If sustainability is important to you, be sure to do your research to ensure you only buy conflict-free diamonds.
It may seem like all lab-grown diamonds would automatically be “conflict-free” since they are not mined. While that can be true, other environmental concerns exist, such as electricity use and how each lab manufactures its synthetic diamonds.
Environmental responsibility is at the forefront of our business, and we work exclusively with suppliers who also value this and have paperwork and proof of how and who they do business with. For this reason we work with a small network of diamond vendors who adhere to a rigid protocol when creating lab-grown diamonds.
We work exclusively with and are grateful for our industry connections and trust in the network we partner with.
Make the choice that is best for YOU!
Now you know the different options available. If a lab-grown diamond is right for you, you have come to the right place! Inquire here to start your journey to designing the lab-grown diamond ring of your dreams!
Your Choice Is ALWAYS the Right Choice!
We hope this blog helps you gain clarity as you navigate the complexity of the diamond industry! The beauty is that there are choices available to you! Whether you choose a natural diamond, a synthetic lab-grown diamond, a diamond simulant, or even a gemstone like a sapphire or emerald, when you make an informed decision aligned with your goals and values, you will ALWAYS make the right decision.
At Reverence Jewelry, we’re here to support you every step of the way. If you’d like our guidance as you embark on this journey, reach out to schedule your complimentary virtual consultation.
Reverence Jewelry is proud to offer the first specialized, truly custom, luxury custom lab-grown diamond engagement ring service for clients who proudly choose lab-grown diamonds.
Intrigued but still not sure if a Lab Grown Diamond is right for you?