Diamond Guide

The Difference Between Natural & Lab Grown Diamonds

To help you navigate the diamond shopping experience and give you the facts, here are the key differences that set natural diamonds apart from lab-grown diamonds.

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When shopping for diamond jewelry, there are many common misconceptions and frequently asked questions. What is a natural diamond, and is it the same as a mined diamond? How to tell natural diamonds from laboratory-grown diamonds? What are the differences between natural and lab-grown diamonds? Are there environmental or social benefits to one over the other? It’s important to understand the facts about what you’re buying before you buy.

No. 1: Earthly Origins

Natural diamonds are formed by the heat
and pressure of the Earth, from 1 to 3 billion
years ago, making a natural diamond the
oldest thing you will ever touch.

The extreme conditions within the Earth that created natural diamonds are only the beginning of their journey. Millions of years after their formation, on average, 100 miles deep within the Earth, natural diamonds were blasted toward the surface of the Earth by ancient volcanoes. These volcanoes trapped diamonds in their molten rock as it exploded to the surface, and today, diamonds are found in the remanence of these ancient volcanoes we call kimberlite pipes. Natural diamonds are sometimes referred to as ‘mined’ diamonds, although some natural diamonds are recovered without mining.

On the other hand, lab-grown diamonds are created by humans using machinery and energy to force carbon to crystallize. Although sharing physical and optical properties, lab-grown diamonds’ quick growth process makes them easily identifiable from natural diamonds using a proper tester.

No. 2: Rarity & Value

The value of natural diamonds comes
from their uniqueness and rarity
as a naturally occurring gem.

The total amount of natural diamonds 1 carat and larger recovered in a year would only fill one exercise ball. This rarity and finiteness make natural diamonds valuable. Over the last 35 years, natural diamonds have shown to appreciate in price by approximately 3% on average every year. Natural diamonds retain inherent value over time, making them an incredible heirloom. However, like other manufactured products, lab-grown diamonds can be replicated in potentially unlimited quantities. Between 2016 and 2022, the prices of laboratory-grown diamonds fell by more than 70%.

Courtesy www.paulzimnisky.com

No. 3: Environmental Impact

Natural diamond companies have
transformed over the last few decades
and are committed to controlling and
reducing their environmental impact.

Researchers are using the rocks in which diamonds are found, called kimberlite, to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in a ground-breaking research program with the aim of reaching carbon neutrality within this decade. Also, triple the amount of land natural diamond companies use is set aside for environmental conservation.

The environmental impact of a one-carat natural diamond from mine to finger is about the same as the environmental impact of manufacturing three smartphones. While a natural diamond will last a lifetime and beyond, how many times do you replace your smartphone?

No. 4: Unique Symbol

Every natural diamond is unique,
like a fingerprint.

Just like everything in nature, no two natural diamonds are identical. Since their discovery nearly 4000 years ago, natural diamonds have symbolized strength, resilience, and love. From their name, meaning unbreakable, ancient mythology tipping Cupids arrows in diamonds, to the first natural diamond engagement ring in 1477, they have been the ultimate symbol of love that has stretched to every corner of culture.

No. 5: Sustainability

The natural diamond industry supports the
livelihood of 10 million people globally.

Together, the world’s leading diamond producers create $16 billion in net positive socioeconomic and environmental benefits annually in countries where they operate–80% of which stays within local communities. Entire countries such as Botswana and remote areas, like Canada’s far North, have been completely transformed by the discovery of natural diamonds.

*Analysis conducted by Trucost, part of S&P Global, based on 2016/2017 data.