What Are Lab-Created Diamonds?

You may have heard about lab-created diamonds, also known as lab-grown diamonds, popping up more often over the past few years. But what actually are lab-created diamonds, and how are they different from the natural diamonds you’d find in a Shane Co. engagement ring?

Are Lab-Created Diamonds Real?

A lab-created diamond is a diamond that is grown in a controlled laboratory setting through a process which helps to mimic the structure of a natural diamond as it’s being formed. While natural diamonds can take millions of years (and an extensive amount of pressure!) to form, lab-created diamonds can be formed within only weeks. Although they are not the same as natural diamonds, their chemical structure is inherently similar, and if they are not graded by the GIA and marked as lab-created, it’s possible to confuse them for natural diamonds because of their similarities in structure.

The Cost of Lab-Created Diamonds

While lab-created diamonds can be purchased at a lower cost than natural diamonds, because they are not nearly as rare as natural diamonds, they lose their value at a much faster rate. While natural diamonds will generally maintain their value or even go up in value over time, the value of lab-created diamonds has consistently fallen since their introduction to the market.

How Are Lab-Created Diamonds Made?

Labs that produce lab-created diamonds use two different methods to create them: High Pressure-High Temperature (HPHT), and Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD). 

With HPHT, a small diamond “seed” is put into a piece of carbon, then pressurized to 1.5 million pounds per square inch using a belt press, cubic press, or split-sphere press. It’s also exposed to temperatures ranging over 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit. The combined pressure and heat melt the carbon, forming a diamond around the “seed” that is subsequently cooled once formed.

CVD also begins with a diamond seed, which is placed inside a sealed chamber and then heated to over 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s filled with carbon-rich gases, such as methane and hydrogen, then ionized into plasma using a technology that’s similar to lasers or microwaves. This process breaks down the molecular bond of the gas, causing pure carbon to begin to stick to the seed, forming a new diamond.

The Drawbacks of Lab-Created Diamonds

There are a number of drawbacks to choosing lab-created diamonds over natural ones.

Price Appreciation

Because natural diamonds are becoming more and more rare and often more expensive to mine, this also means that their value is appreciating in greater levels over time. If you bought a natural diamond five or 10 years ago, you may be surprised to find that the diamond is worth a lot more today. Lab-created diamonds, on the other hand, continue to depreciate in value over time.

Sustainability Issues

Although many people choose lab-created diamonds because they are thought to be ethically sourced, they unfortunately still require large amounts of energy to create, making them no better for the environment than natural diamonds.

Lab-Created Diamond Stigma

There’s a reason why natural diamonds have maintained popularity for so long. The rarity of natural diamonds and the incredibly long process it takes to create them are actually some of the reasons why they’re valued so highly. As a symbol of love, a natural diamond takes millions of years to form and is a reminder of the incredible power of nature and that good things sometimes take time. Lab-created diamonds carry none of the symbolism that natural diamonds do, taking away some of the romantic notions attached to diamonds.

Why We Sell Only Natural Diamonds

At Shane Co., we value long-lasting relationships — whether it’s the love of two partners or our relationships with our customers and diamond suppliers. We believe that an engagement ring is more than just a token, it’s a symbol of your love that’s meant to withstand the test of time. Shane Co. natural diamonds are beautiful, rare, and conflict-free. The natural diamond industry supplies jobs and infrastructure, and drives economic development in communities around the world. We choose natural diamonds because we want your jewelry to be just as beautiful and valuable 50 years from now as it is today — because that’s what a friend would do.

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