Different shapes of diamonds diagram

Unearthing laboratory grown diamonds

The lure of a real diamond formed under mimic conditions that costs less than its natural counterpart is inviting! Even more so when marketed as eco-friendly. So we can certainly understand the interest and appeal of laboratory grown diamonds.

We are continuing to explore the differences between natural and laboratory grown diamonds - asking questions such as, are they truly comparable? Are there any compromises? Can we really get more for less?

Are laboratory grown diamonds and natural diamonds comparable?

The answer is yes, and no! A diamond is a diamond – both kinds share the same essential chemical composition and crystal structure. Equivalently graded diamonds hold the same enduring sparkle and hardiness; making both just as beautiful and suitable for fine jewellery and engagement rings. To an unaided eye they are identical. However, with specialist equipment, the two can be told apart. In 2023 our Master Jeweller and certified diamond grader, James Veale, completed his ‘Identifying Lab Diamonds’ Gem Academy course and is able to confidently distinguish between diamonds of both kinds. An essential skill jewellers must have (but many don’t…) – as to accidentally purchase and/or sell a laboratory diamond as a natural stone will have financial and ethical implications.

The Pink Star Diamond one of the Rarest diamonds in the world

So are there any compromises?

Well, yes. The biggest difference between stones that are grown by people vs formed naturally is their availability – which in turn effects their price, and ultimately their value. Manmade items are replicable. They are not rare and not precious in the same way a finite resource is. This reduces their price, and competitive pricing is driving down the price point of larger (1 carat+) artificial diamonds across the industry. Customers considering using laboratory grown diamonds should be aware that they won’t hold their value in the same way a natural stone will. Jewellery made with laboratory grown stones has a negligible re-sale or trade in value. Whilst most plan to keep and treasure their jewellery forever, it is important customers realise that what they buy today will be a cheaper product in the future. This may (or may not) conjure up uneasy feelings about such a valuable and sentimental purchase. Conversely, even though natural stones have a higher initial price point, they hold their value – their pricing is stable (and likely to increase) due to the rarity of the resource.

But what about sustainability - are they the most eco-friendly option?

Again, the answer to this is yes, and no! Both kinds of diamonds are made from the same raw materials (minerals, metals and gases). For natural diamonds, the raw materials are transformed into diamonds within the Earth’s mantle and diamonds are mined after formation. For laboratory grown diamonds, raw materials are mined/harvested first, then turned into diamonds after. This can be done in a sustainable way, or, more often than not,  a non-sustainable way. For example, in Chemical Vapour Deposition (the most common method of creating artificial diamonds) hydrogen and methane are used. 95% of industrial hydrogen comes from burning fossil fuels and methane is a by-product of oil and gas supply chains. This puts a different lens on sustainability and we need to be aware of sustainability ‘mistruths’ that commonly occur in marketing! Reassuringly however, there are producers who use renewable energy sources, offset their carbon footprint and responsibly source raw materials for diamond creation. For example, those using electrolysis for hydrogen production generate clean hydrogen and no greenhouse gases. These producers are in the minority.

How do we know which laboratory grown diamonds are green?

This comes down to traceability – knowing who produced the stone, and their processes. Some laboratory grown diamonds are marked with their producer’s stamp. Others are not. Some have false markings! The best way to be sure about the environmental impact is to source diamonds directly from the producer. If buying diamonds on the open market and the producer is unknown, no claims about sustainability can be made since so many lab grown diamonds are made from mined materials, using non-renewable energy sources. Any green claim made about a diamond that can’t be verified is ‘greenwashing’! Another tale-tale sign…diamonds that are made unsustainably are likely to be the cheaper options on the market. Unfortunately, those made sustainably, while usually less pricey than their natural counterparts, have increased costs of setting up sustainable processes and as such have a slightly higher price point. Some might say, ‘reassuringly expensive’!

Our Position

At Veale Fine Jewellery we place the industry’s reputation and heritage highly. We also strive to meet the evolving needs of our valued clients, and share our expert understanding of diamond jewellery creation with you. We are happy to work with natural diamonds. We are also happy to work with laboratory grown diamonds, providing we source directly from a selection of trusted suppliers whose sustainable processes can be verified. Please get in touch for more information.

We are equally keen to offer our jewellery re-design service: using already mined natural stones and recycling them into new pieces of jewellery. The most sustainable way to create jewellery is re-using resources that already exist and saving them from going to waste!

Gemstone and Diamond Settings

How a diamond is set into metal affects its overall look and feel, and different shaped stones often compliment different kinds of settings.

Choosing The Perfect Diamond

Throughout history, the alluring sparkle of diamonds has been an irresistible temptation for people looking to buy jewellery. But with so many different options available, how do you know which diamond to buy?

Contact us

Contact us via the button below, give us a ring on 01462 526446 or email us to discuss your jewellery requirements.