Do you know the difference between a natural diamond and a lab-grown diamond?
Chemically, NOTHING! A lab-grown diamond IS a real diamond… Let’s explore further…
Diamonds formed 90 million to 3 billion years ago at a depth of 90 to 400 miles beneath Earth’s surface. Here, the extreme temperature (more than 2100°F [1150°C]) and pressure (45,000 times greater than sea level) caused carbon atoms to form incredibly tight bonds. The result was the hardest gemstone on Earth, a diamond.
Today, diamonds are mostly mined from kimberlite pipes, remnants of the ancient volcanoes that carried diamonds to Earth’s surface. About 200-250 tons of ore must be removed and processed to uncover a single one-carat gem-quality diamond.
Out of all the diamonds found in kimberlite pipes, only 20-30% are gem-quality. Diamonds represent rare time capsules containing Earth’s history. Their journey also makes them enduring symbols of strength and resilience.
Lab Grown Diamonds:
Scientists first grew diamonds in a laboratory in the mid-1950s. These diamonds were too small for jewelry. However, production of larger, gem-quality crystals began in the mid-1990s and continues to today, with more and more companies producing lab grown diamonds.
There are two methods by which lab diamonds are grown.
The traditional diamond growth method, called high-pressure, high-temperature (HPHT), are produced from carbon material contained in apparatuses that mimic the high pressure, high temperature conditions of natural diamond formation in the earth.
The newer method, chemical vapor deposition (CVD), involves filling a vacuum chamber with carbon-containing gas that crystallizes on a diamond seed. This method uses lower temperatures and pressures than HPHT. Both methods are currently popular methods of diamond growth. The CVD diamond growth method requires a lower upfront equipment cost than HPHT but may require subsequent treatment to improve the color of the diamonds grown
What to consider when deciding to purchase Natural vs Lab Grown:
Some feel strongly that Lab-grown diamonds are a better choice over natural diamonds because they are guaranteed to be conflict free and produce with less of a carbon footprint on the earth than the natural diamond mining process.
However, new technology and innovation, has changed the way diamonds are mined and the industry has been giving back to the mining communities like never before. Also, transparency through GIA Diamond Origin encourages businesses to compensate employees fairly, maintain safe working conditions, operate mines sustainably and restore habitats to their original state after mines close. By purchasing a diamond with a GIA Diamond Origin Report, you help the world and the industry shine brighter. Let’s take a look at two countries as reported by GIA Diamond Origin – Diamonds doing Good, Botswana and Lesotho.
De Beers and Botswana soon formed a 50/50 joint venture, becoming Debswana, a diamond powerhouse. Together, Debswana produced 24% of the world’s diamonds by value in 2018. A portion of the income generated by Debswana goes toward government revenues and helps build schools and roads and get water to homes and farms. With approximately 20% of its population employed by the diamond industry, Botswana and the diamond industry have created a middle class and a stable economy.
Literacy rates have reached above 80%, and healthcare and compulsory primary education are free. Over 90% of the population has access to clean drinking water and electricity, and the country has more than 6,000 miles of paved road, compared to fewer than 10 miles at its independence in 1966. Funds from diamonds also go towards wildlife preservation efforts — especially of cheetahs and white rhinos — and towards empowering women entrepreneurs and fighting AIDS.
From independence to now, diamonds have helped support Botswana’s infrastructure. They also help the country reinvest in new industries so that one day, when diamond production in Botswana stops, the economy will still be able to prosper. All this helps to ensure that Botswana’s future is crystal clear.
“Every diamond purchase represents food on the table, better living conditions, better healthcare, potable and safe drinking water, more roads to connect remote communities.”
– Festus Mogae, 3rd president of Botswana (1998-2008)
Lesotho is a developing country with high rates of poverty, ranking 159th out of 189 countries on the United Nations’ Human Development Index. But things may improve as Lesotho’s diamond sector continues to grow. In 2015, Lesotho’s diamond production totaled only 304,000 carats. When the Lesotho government began enacting reforms to modernize minerals legislation, however, production quadrupled in the next three years. The taxes, royalties and revenue generated by its growing diamond mining industry enables a brighter future for Lesotho.
A diamond’s journey is every bit as fascinating as its sparkle. GIA’s Diamond Origin and its related resources help you tell the story of the people in the country who brought you your diamond and helped make it shine.
Now that you have the facts, the question still remains – Natural or Lab-Grown – How to decide what’s right for you and your partner:
For the romantic at heart, this diamond journey is the exact reason why diamonds are used to represent the love and commitment between two people. It represents the strength and resilience of a couples love now and through all the ups and downs throughout the years to come.
For the practical, a lab created diamond is guaranteed to be conflict free, and because more they can be produced in large batches in just a few weeks they are considerably less expensive than natural diamonds of comparable size and quality.
All of the natural diamonds that will ever exist have already been created making them forever rarities. Laboratory-grown diamonds, on the other hand, can be produced limitlessly.