Natural vs. Lab-Grown Diamonds

Posted by Abby Gonneville on

In the last 5-7 years, the lab-grown diamond market has grown tremendously.1 “Man-made” or “synthetic” diamonds possess essentially the same chemical composition and structure as natural diamonds, resulting in comparable physical and visual qualities.2 The defining difference between the two is their respective origins - while one is the product of withstanding millions to billions of years of extreme temperature and pressure conditions deep under the Earth’s surface, the other is grown over the course of less than a month in the highly controlled environment of a laboratory using either the HPHT or CVD method.3

In all of our diamond pieces, we are very intentional in our decision to strictly use natural diamonds. Here’s why…

Mother Nature’s Wonders Simply Cannot Be Replicated

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission defines diamond as “essentially pure carbon.”4 While diamond is typically about 99.95% carbon, the other 0.05% can include trace elements which may influence shape or color.5 For example, nitrogen can impart a yellowish color while boron can give a rare blue hue.6 Additionally, natural diamonds usually contain inclusions, which are internal features to the stone that have an effect on its clarity.7 A narrow understanding of diamond rarity paints inclusions as “imperfections,” which is a perspective we couldn’t share less. Just take our Monica Ring - her 2.12ct “Salt & Pepper” Round Brilliant natural Diamond has the most striking inclusions that effectively serve as a unique fingerprint and create a mesmerizing high-depth, high-contrast look. One might even argue that while diamonds graded “Flawless” are widely considered the most rare, because no two diamonds can ever have the exact same inclusions, that makes them the rarest of all. Trace elements and inclusions are two key ways that gemologists are able to distinguish synthetic from natural diamonds. Beyond the microscope, when it’s natural, you can almost feel a sense of the miracle that went into the stone’s formation - all of the many factors that lined up at just the right time in just the right place to create a truly one of a kind thing of organic beauty.

Rarity Dictates Value

Like other markets, when it comes to diamonds, rarity and value have a direct relationship, meaning when one goes up so does the other. But who defines rare? By any standards, lab-grown diamonds do not fit the bill. Because the formation process has been converted into a scientific formula that can be carried out to match any level of demand - in other words, because lab-grown diamonds can be mass-produced - they are not great candidates for your investment. In fact, according to Business Wire, “since there is no rarity attached to them, the value of lab grown diamonds will continue to depreciate in forecasted years, negatively impacting the resale value of these diamonds and making it more costly to upgrade them in the future.”8 We do everything we can to help your KJ pieces last - from education on proper wear and care, to offering complimentary jewelry “checkups,” to performing proactive adjustments and repair work. Therefore we have a vested interest in making sure your diamond jewelry has the best chance of withstanding the test of time from a financial standpoint as well, which does require us to work exclusively with natural diamonds.

Environmental Considerations

Many who find themself with moral concerns related to the impact of diamond mining on the climate are quick to turn to lab-grown diamonds as the more “sustainable” solution. However, the reality is that the energy usage of laboratories mass-producing synthetic diamonds can be considerably greater than with mined diamonds. Some state that “the most efficient producers of diamonds require approx. 250kwh of electricity to grow a 1-carat lab diamond, which is the same amount of electricity the average U.S. household uses in 8.7 days.”9 Now compare that to the findings of environmental professor Saleem Ali, who writes that “Australia’s Argyle mine uses 7 kWh to produce 1 ct., De Beers’ operations use 80.3 kWh per ct., and Diavik uses 66 kWh per ct.”10 Numbers will vary depending on location and source, and it is true that both mining and lab operations require energy and emit carbon to at least some extent that is harmful to the environment. However, what we would invite you to consider is this in conjunction with what was previously mentioned about resale value - while lab-grown diamonds are marketed as the more “eco-friendly” alternative, the slim possibility of their greater environmental friendliness can be discounted in light of how they simply do not hold resale value, meaning new stones must constantly be produced to meet ever-growing demand. When you think about it this way, certainly natural diamonds, with the potential to be repurposed into cherished heirlooms, are the more sustainable option.

Last but certainly not least, there is something incredibly mystical, full of depth, soul and admiration that Kasia feels connected to and that such is coming from Mother Nature created stone, not a Lab created adaptation of such. After all, let's be authentic without pretending.

Ultimately, we don’t ever question that the stone selection is in the eye of the beholder. However, you should never feel that choosing between a natural and man-made diamond are your only options. We are proud to offer a diverse gemstone collection with pieces to match any price point, especially those more budget-conscious. Create your own story, whatever that means particularly to you.


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