Are Lab Grown Diamonds Cheaper?
Whether you are shopping for a diamond engagement ring, or in the market for a pair of diamond studs, a solitaire pendant, or sparkly tennis bracelet, you might be considering a style made with lab-grown diamonds. The good news: even a cursory online price comparison will reveal to you that, yes, lab-grown diamonds are cheaper than their natural diamond counterparts.
Also known as “man-made diamonds,” lab-grown diamonds are an attractive option for many consumers for many reasons. For example, some couples prefer lab-created diamonds for engagement rings because of the affordability but also because the finest quality stones can be procured for modest price points. If a consumer is concerned about the traceability and origins of mined diamonds, lab-grown diamonds, especially those grown in the USA, take that concern off the table. Lab-grown diamonds are also considered by many to be a more environmentally friendly choice than mined diamonds (more on that below).
So, what is a lab-grown diamond? Is it a fake diamond? Like cubic zirconia? Nope, it’s a real diamond that has been engineered in a highly-controlled laboratory setting that uses advanced technologies to replicate the same characteristics found in natural diamonds. In fact, lab-grown diamonds have the same crystal structure and chemical properties, and also exhibit the same fire and brilliance. The differences between a natural mined diamond and one that’s produced in a lab cannot be detected with the naked eye; jewelers have equipment that allows them to test their diamonds to say for sure—it can’t hurt to ask them to demo this for you for extra peace of mind.
Why are Lab Grown Diamonds Cheaper?
The best lab-grown stones can cost 20-30% less than mined diamonds. That’s because when you take nature out of the equation, things can happen pretty quickly: Man-made diamonds pass through fewer hands in a supply chain and in a fraction of the time it takes natural diamonds to form (and then they have to be mined, sorted, and cut—a process that often takes place in more than one facility in multiple locations across the globe). Another factor is that lab-grown stones require minimal equipment to produce and procure. When scientists duplicate the diamond-making process above ground, they get results in just a few months instead of years. Also, lab-grown diamond suppliers are competing with mined diamonds—and each other—so lower prices naturally enhance their product’s value proposition.
Lab Grown vs. Natural Diamonds: Which Is Better?
It really comes down to what it’s important to you. The fact is, lab-grown diamonds are chemically the same as mined diamonds and give great bang for your buck. If you’re wondering if anything created in a laboratory can be as appealing as something found in nature, you may come to the same favorable conclusion that legions of consumers already have. Even luxury brands like LVMH are putting weight behind lab-grown diamonds.
Sustainability and ethical sourcing are priorities for many consumers, which makes the idea of lab-grown diamonds more appealing. Lab-grown diamonds are marketed as a more earth-friendly, conflict-free choice that causes little disruption to the earth’s resources. Even though many lab-grown diamond growers market their material as “sustainable and eco-friendly,” the only way to be sure is if the grower has been assessed and certified by a third party (like B Corp or SCS Global Services). It’s an extra layer of confidence in the brand you’re selecting—the third-party certification status tells you that the grower is doing everything in their power to be more sustainable and ethical. Lab-grown diamonds sourced from WD, Brilliant Earth, Aether Diamonds, and Latitude Diamonds are third-party sustainability certified, 100% climate neutral, and fully traceable.
One important reason to consider mined diamonds over the alternative is that lab-grown diamonds do not appreciate over time, whereas a natural diamond is an investment that will hold its value (as has been the case for basically forever). In other words, if you buy a man-made diamond today, it will likely cost less next year as more growers enter the marketplace. This is a valid point, one that may be important to you, and quite a few jewelers are likely to bring this to your attention as you shop in their store.
Lab Grown Diamonds vs. Moissanite: How Are They Different?
Although there are numerous diamond-like substitutes available, lab-grown diamonds and moissanites are the alternatives most commonly used in high-value jewelry. Moissanite is naturally forming, gem-quality silicon carbide that approximates the look of diamonds. What is the primary difference between lab-grown diamonds and moissanites? Their chemical makeup- lab diamonds are considered real diamonds as they are made of pure crystallized carbon and graded on the same scale as natural stones. On the other hand, moissanites are diamond simulants, made from silicon carbide which is considered inferior to the chemical composition of lab-grown diamonds. However, both gems exude the aesthetics of a mined diamond while withstanding potential damage and scratches from daily tasks due to strength and durability.
Prices for lab-grown gems vary based on their shape, cut, color, clarity, and carat. Typically, the moissanite gem price is based on its size and if the stone is Premium (nearly colorless) or Super Premium (colorless). When it comes to the Four Cs of diamond grading, lab-grown stones can be evaluated according to this criteria, while moissanites are rated exclusively on color due to the near-perfect clarity of every stone. For lab-grown diamonds, the average price is somewhere between $800-$1K per carat while a moissanite price per carat averages around $600.
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