We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
Chemically identical to natural diamonds, lab-grown diamonds offer all the sparkle at a fraction of the price. Moreover, they’re sustainably grown and ethically sourced, making them an eco-friendly choice you can feel proud to wear. When first introduced to the market, lab-grown diamonds were viewed with skepticism, but today, jewelry made using lab-created diamonds is more popular than ever and available in an endless array of styles, shapes, cuts, and settings.
As implied in its name, a lab-grown diamond is made using technology that simulates the conditions under which a natural diamond is created. “Natural diamonds formed billions of years ago deep in the earth under tremendous heat and pressure, and came to the surface millions of years ago,” said Barbara Harwick, Senior Instructor at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), one of the world’s leading educational institutes for the study of diamonds. When it comes to lab-grown diamonds, she explained there are several different ways that they are produced. “One process mimics the high temperature and high pressure of the earth to create the diamond,” says Harwick. “Another method builds up the rough diamond layer by layer.”
And as for the results? Though the laboratory process only takes a few weeks, it produces a gem that’s virtually indistinguishable from a diamond that took more than a billion years to form. “This technology is improving quickly, making it possible to produce larger, higher quality laboratory-grown diamonds,” said Wade Abel, Director of Gemological Services at the American Gem Society (AGS) laboratories, an independent organization that provides third-party, expert evaluation of diamonds.
However, there tends to be one noticeable difference between mined and lab-grown diamonds: price. "Lab-grown diamonds are a great choice for keepsake jewelry and engagement rings, because you can usually get a larger and better quality stone for a lower price," says Lisa Rosen, CEO of the International Gem Society (IGS), a gemological membership society for professionals and enthusiasts.
To find the best places to buy lab-grown diamond jewelry, the Brides team spent hours researching the top lab-grown diamond companies, evaluating quality, range of styles, customer service, shipping and return policies, and overall value. We also interviewed leading gemologists and jewelry experts to get their insights on the differences between natural and lab-grown diamonds and tips on choosing pieces to suit any style and budget.
While shopping for fine jewelry online is more affordable and convenient than ever before, all jewelry brands are not created equal. In the coming months, our panel of gemologists and jewelry experts will see how jewelry from the most popular lab-created diamond retailers stacks up in The Lab, our Manhattan based testing space. We’ll evaluate the quality—including cut, color, and clarity—of the diamonds themselves and the materials used for settings and embellishments.
Below are the best places to buy lab-grown diamond engagement rings.
Best For Engagement Rings: VRAI Lab Grown Diamonds
Price range: $1,760–$12,700
VRAI is known for its impeccably crafted diamond engagement rings, which run the gamut from classic to fashion-forward. The brand's diamonds are sustainably grown in their zero-emission foundry in America. "There is complete transparency with our jewelry and sustainable diamonds, which are grown utilizing renewable energy, so there are no questions about origin or middlemen markups," says VRAI CEO Mona Akhavi. Engagement rings can be set in recycled gold and shipped in sustainable packaging. You can expect to spend $1,000 and up for their simplest styles, such as 'The Signature' ring, and $1,300 and up for more intricate options like the Toi et Moi ring, a pairing of emerald and pear cut diamonds. VRAI also offers show-stopping tennis bracelets, bangles, and customizable lab-grown diamond necklaces and earrings.
Special Services: Shop the brand's selection of signature designs or opt to create your own ring. "You can choose from 10 unique diamond shapes and 13 settings," says Akhavi. "Plus, we offer virtual appointments to help make picking out an engagement ring as easy as possible, allowing customers to see the different diamond cuts, settings, and band pairings with our experts."
Shipping and Returns: VRAI's made-to-order jewelry usually ships within approximately two weeks of placing your order. The brand accepts returns of in-stock and unworn engagement rings and bands within 30 days of delivery. However, each customer is only permitted one engagement ring return, and you must include the diamond certificate and the original packaging.
Best for Ethically Sourced Diamonds: Ritani Lab Grown Diamonds
Price range: $590–$8,699
Ritani offers ethically sourced and environmentally friendly lab-grown diamonds for every budget. These sparkly diamonds have the same brilliance as natural diamonds but at a fraction of the price and are available in over 10 stunning shapes, from emerald to hexagonal. Ritani is also big on price transparency, providing details on the costs of creating each lab-grown diamond, such as fulfillment fees and markups. The brand also carries an impressive collection of lab-grown diamond wedding bands to complement any engagement ring style. In addition to engagement rings and other jewelry collections, the brand offers lab-grown diamond anniversary and bridal party gifts.
Special Services: Want to design the lab-grown diamond engagement ring of your dreams? Choose from thousands of lab-grown stones, available in every shape, carat, and cut imaginable, and a wide range of settings and metals. Setting prices range from $280 to $8,650, while loose diamonds are available from just $75 and up. All Ritani engagement rings come with complimentary engraving and free resizing.
Shipping and Returns: Ritani offers fully insured, fast and free shipping for all domestic orders. The jewelry brand has a 30-day return policy and even accepts returns of custom and engraved engagement rings.
“Several factors can increase the diamond’s quality, rarity, and ultimately the price. The less color that is present in a diamond, the less noticeable the inclusions, the higher the precision of the cut, and the size are all factors.” – Wade Abel, Director of Gemological Services, American Gem Society
Best for Custom Jewelry: Brilliant Earth Lab Grown Diamonds
Price range: $820–$139,430
Brilliant Earth offers a streamlined shopping experience that makes designing your dream ring a breeze. To start, choose from an extensive inventory of lab-grown diamonds in various shapes, cuts, and colors. Once you've picked the perfect center stone, you can choose from multiple design options, from traditional solitaires to ornate three-stone shapes. Next, decide whether you want a classic setting in white gold or a more modern look like the 'Cometa' ring, set in trendy rose gold. Brilliant Earth's custom lab-grown diamond engagement rings (including the diamond and setting) start at $760, and the brand also offers wedding bands, stud and hoop earrings, and elegant pendant necklaces.
Special Services: Not sure what type of engagement ring style is right for you? Take advantage of Brilliant Earth's virtual try-on app. This convenient tool allows you to virtually try on engagement rings by simply uploading a picture of your hand and selecting your favorite styles. The brand also offers virtual appointments and consultations with its jewelry experts if you want professional guidance or are interested in learning more about lab-created diamonds.
Shipping and Returns: Brilliant Earth offers free shipping both ways and complimentary 30-day returns. Return your purchase in its original packaging with the included documentation to qualify for a full refund.
Blue Nile Lab Grown Diamonds
Price Range: $600–$1,450
Since launching in 1999, Blue Nile has become one of the world's most trusted jewelry retailers. The brand launched its lab-grown diamond rings in 2020 in partnership with Lightbox, promising exquisite engagement rings without sacrificing quality or craftsmanship, thanks to low overhead costs. This small yet eye-catching collection includes engagement rings, earrings, bracelets, and pendant necklaces set with white, blue, or pink lab-grown diamonds, with prices starting at $250.
Special Services: In addition to engraving services, Blue Nile offers complimentary ring resizing on all customized engagement rings within one year of purchase. The brand also offers a flexible payment plan and a lifetime manufacturer's warranty.
Shipping and Returns: Like many fine jewelry brands, Blue Nile offers free insured, secure shipping and a 30-day exchange and return policy.
“Like mined diamonds, lab-grown diamonds come in a variety of sizes, as well as cut, color, and clarity grades. Luckily, the same GIA grading scales are used for both mined and lab-grown diamonds, so it’s easy to compare the two.” – Lisa Rosen, CEO of the International Gem Society
Best for Customizable Designs: Clean Origin Lab Grown Diamonds
Price Range: $750–75K+
Clean Origin only carries 100 percent lab-grown diamonds and caters to couples looking to design their own engagement ring. Much like Brilliant Earth, Clean Origin offers an easy-to-use customization process and boasts a wide range of settings and diamond shapes. Moreover, Clean Origin's ethically sourced and eco-friendly lab-created diamond engagement rings are competitively priced, with classic oval solitaire rings starting at around $560 for the setting and diamond.
Special Services: Have questions or concerns about your engagement ring? Clean Origin offers 45-minute virtual appointments with highly knowledgeable diamond experts. Their rings come with a lifetime warranty, and shoppers can even opt to pay off the balance of their purchase using one of the brand's payment plans.
Shipping and Returns: Each purchase comes with a generous 100-day return policy, allowing you plenty of time to decide if your ring is right for you.
Best for Shoppers on a Budget: 12FIFTEEN Lab Grown Diamonds
Price Range: $570–$80,720
12FIFTEEN carries lab-grown diamonds and handcrafts each engagement setting with the utmost care and expertise. The brand also strives to bring its customers the best lab diamonds at the best prices and controls costs by cutting out the middleman and selling exclusively online. Even better? 12FIFTEEN allows you to create your own engagement ring, allowing you to get what you want with just a few clicks of a button. Or, choose from other lab-created diamond pieces and shop gift suggestions starting at just $100.
Special Services: The brand wants you to feel confident about your purchase, so they offer a price match guarantee. If you find a loose, lab-created diamond for less, they'll find you a stone that matches your comparable diamond's specs and price point. 12FIFTEEN's settings start at $470, while their loose diamonds range from $90 to $1,040, depending on the 4Cs of the diamond.
Shipping and Returns: Wondering if you can return your engagement ring? 12FIFTEEN offers a 30-day return and exchange policy, which applies as long as the piece has never been worn or worked on by another jeweler and is in perfect condition. 12FIFTEEN ships all over the U.S. as well as internationally.
“Consumers who used to be intimidated by the cost of natural diamonds now have many comfortable lab-grown options. They’re available for prices far below their natural diamond counterparts, which helps stretch budgets. Couples may not have to choose between a big diamond and a big honeymoon.” – Avi Levy, President of IGI North America
Best Selection : James Allen Lab Grown Diamonds
Price Range: $1,050–$18,700
James Allen boasts an impressive selection of stunning lab-grown diamonds at several price points. "Our mission is to offer consumers the highest quality diamonds and largest selection at the best price," says Lorraine Brantner, brand sales manager. If you're looking to design a unique engagement ring, James Allen makes the customization process easy and fun. "We aim to take what is a famously intimidating process and make it both more transparent and more enjoyable," says Brantner. The jeweler's classic 1-Carat Knife-Edge Round Solitaire engagement ring retails for under $2,000.
Special Services: While shopping for an engagement ring online is easy and convenient, it can be tricky to tell what your ring will actually look like in person. James Allen's solution to this problem was to create The Ring Studio, which gives shoppers complete creative control using detailed images and videos for every type of customized ring. "We pioneered stunning 360-degree video technology combined with 24/7 customer service and amazing prices to give each customer a truly one-of-a-kind shopping experience, all from the comfort of their home," explains Brantner.
Shipping and Returns: The brand offers fast and free shipping regardless of order amount or destination. If you're not satisfied with your engagement ring, you have the opportunity to return it within 30 days of receiving your order. The original laboratory grading report must accompany loose diamonds, or you'll be charged a fee to replace the certificate.
How to Shop for Lab-Grown Diamond Jewelry
Like any major investment, when buying lab-grown diamond jewelry, you should always do your research before you start shopping. Trusted retailers (like those on our list) will have an in-depth FAQ page detailing how and where their lab-grown diamonds are made and any sustainable practices they follow.
Like any major investment, when it comes to shopping for a lab-grown diamond engagement ring, it’s important to do your research before you buy. Most trusted retailers (like the ones listed above) will have an in-depth FAQ page highlighting how and where their lab-grown diamonds are made and what sustainable practices they may exercise.
Since lab-grown diamonds share the same optical and chemical properties as natural diamonds, they are graded on the same scale of cut, clarity, color, and carat weight as natural diamonds. Lab-grown diamond engagement rings are also offered in scores of different styles, settings, and metals to suit all aesthetics. Once you’ve found your dream lab-grown diamond engagement ring you should receive and review its lab certification.
What is a lab-grown diamond?
Lab-grown diamonds are human-made stones created in a lab, formed using high-tech equipment that produces the same high pressure, heat, and chemical conditions it takes to create a natural diamond.
“Laboratory-grown diamond growth utilizes technology and machinery to create diamonds in as little time as a few weeks” says Abel. “Natural diamonds take hundreds of millions to billions of years to grow deep in the earth’s mantle and are only accessible once they are pushed up through rare volcanic activity.”
Despite being nearly identical to natural diamonds, gemologists can use specialized equipment to identify them. “Natural and laboratory-grown diamonds form under very different conditions, so, even though they look the same, there are characteristics that experts can use to separate them,'' says Harwick. But the variations in growth patterns and structure are hard to spot with a regular jeweler’s loupe or microscope, she explains. “You need expertise and advanced instrumentation to tell the difference.”
Are lab-grown diamonds real?
Yes! A manufactured diamond is as real as one that’s mined from the earth and has the same chemical and physical properties as a natural diamond. “Lab-grown diamond technology has gotten so good that most jewelers can’t tell the difference between a lab-grown and mined diamond using the naked eye,” says Rosen. “A loupe won’t even suffice— a jeweler would need sophisticated (and expensive) testing equipment to distinguish a lab-grown diamond from a mined diamond.”
What are the benefits of lab-grown diamonds?
While lab-grown diamonds can be pricey, most are available at a fraction of the cost of a natural diamond. Diamonds made in pristine conditions in a lab don’t contain dirt or other impurities and have fewer defects. They are also considered to be more ethical than natural diamonds, since they are not mined, a practice that can be harmful to both the environment and the tradespeople who mine them. “If you are socially conscious–and many more buyers are these days–the only way to guarantee that you are getting an ethically-sourced diamond is to buy a lab-grown diamond,” says Rosen. She adds: “Traditional mining can have a negative impact on soil quality, wildlife, biodiversity, and fresh water. In addition, mining diamonds requires the use of fossil fuels like diesel, which generates greenhouse gas emissions.”
However, it’s important to note that lab-grown diamonds still have some environmental impact. “Despite some marketing claims, many lab-grown diamond producers do not run sustainable or eco-friendly operations,” says Avi Levy, President of the International Gemological Institute (IGI), North America, a global education resource and grading laboratory. “These gems require enormous energy to grow and most are produced with the burning of fossil fuels. There’s a growing niche of producers who are committing to hydro, solar or wind power, so (rare) ‘sustainable’ lab-grown diamonds do exist.” If environmental impact is an important part of your decision, Levy recommends asking the manufacturer for proof of sustainability to back any claims.
How can you tell a piece of lab-grown diamond jewelry is worth the price tag?
“The most important thing is that the consumer works with a knowledgeable jeweler,” says Abel. “All laboratory-grown diamonds must be disclosed as such, and the retailer should be able to explain what a laboratory-grown diamond is and the differences and similarities between it and a natural diamond.”
Abel adds that transparency is key. “An ethical retailer will disclose all that is required (and more). Some retailers are members of nonprofit industry organizations, such as the American Gem Society, that must uphold specific standards to become members and retain their membership. You can inquire if your jeweler is a member of AGS, or visit ags.org/findajeweler to find one near you.”
It’s important for consumers to research and shop around before making a decision, says Rosen. She adds that the price range on jewelry varies based on the size of the stone and the setting, but that lab-grown diamonds tend to be significantly cheaper than mined diamonds. “This is due to the decrease in production costs, which allows lab-grown diamonds to be created at scale.” Rosen says that, in general, a lab-grown diamond usually runs about 50 percent less expensive than a mined diamond.
However, the pricing can vary widely, based on the diamonds themselves and their settings. “Certain classes and categories of lab-grown diamonds are starting to command premium prices,” says Levy. “As long as lab-grown diamonds continue to gain in popularity, the range of new options available to luxury, fashion and bridal shoppers is likely to keep growing.”
On the contrary, as the lab-grown diamond industry expands, Abel says that there could be shifts in price and value: “As more and more laboratory-grown diamonds are produced, they become less rare, which is a factor in the cost. Historically, this was seen with other laboratory-grown gemstones, like ruby, sapphire, and emerald, where the price dropped, and value is not near what it is for the natural counterparts.”
MEET OUR EXPERTS
- Barbara Harwick is a Senior Instructor at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in Carlsbad, California. GIA has been a resource for gem grading and analysis, research, and education since 1931. In addition to offering online classes, GIA has eight campuses, three research centers, and 10 laboratories around the world.
- Wade Abel is the Las Vegas-based Director of Gemological Services at the American Gem Society (AGS) laboratories. Founded in 1934, AGS was created by a group of jewelers to help establish ethical practices and consumer trust within the industry.
- Lisa Rosen is the CEO of the International Gem Society (IGS), an online gemological community and education site. Since 1998, IGS has been a resource for professional jewelers and gemologists, in addition to amateur gem enthusiasts.
- Avi Levy is the President of the International Gemological Institute (IGI), North America, a worldwide organization that offers extensive training, gemstone grading, and evaluation. IGI operates 20 laboratories and 14 gemological educational campuses across the globe.
Why Trust Brides
Contributing writer Sophie Moore is a former fashion editor at Brides and is an expert in all things bridal attire, from couture wedding gowns to the perfect "something blue" accessory. She researches and sources the best fashion items for brides, grooms, wedding guests, bridal parties, and more. When it comes to engagement rings, Sophie is a big fan of timeless styles like emerald-cut silhouettes.