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For many individuals, a pair of diamond earrings symbolize a rite of passage—a lifelong investment piece that can be passed down through generations. For a long time, mined diamonds were the only type of diamond used in jewelry, but during the middle of the 20th century, something significant happened.
“Laboratory-grown diamonds were originally introduced in the 1950s for industrial purposes,” GIA Research Scientist Dr. Sally Magaña tells Brides. She explains that in recent years, gem-quality laboratory-grown diamonds have grown in commercial popularity and availability. “With the advancement of technology and growing consumer demands, laboratory-grown diamonds have a legitimate place in the jewelry industry as long as they are properly disclosed.”
This means you can get real diamonds these days for a fraction of the price as mined diamonds, and they can be a more sustainable and ethical choice, too.
Read on for the best lab-grown diamond earrings on the market now.
Best Studs: Vrai Solitaire Studs
A round brilliant cut diamond has timeless appeal, which is why investing in a pair of studs featuring this gorgeous cut is well worth your time. This set can be customized based on your preferred precious metal—we’re loving the 14k yellow gold combination.
Metal Type: 14k yellow, rose, white gold | Setting: Four-prong | Diamond Shape: Round brilliant | Color: Various | Clarity: Various | Carat Weight: 1/4ct, 1/3ct, 1/2ct, 3/4ct, 1ct
Best Teardrop Shape: Clean Origin Pear Diamond Stud Earrings
We’ve always loved the way pear cuts resemble a delicate teardrop, which is why these earrings from Clean Origin feel especially right. There are also three-carat size options depending on if you want a more delicate or bold look.
Metal Type: 18k white gold | Setting: Prong | Diamond Shape: Pear | Color: E/F | Clarity: VS | Carat Weight: 1ct
Best Splurge: Brilliant Earth Glacé Lab Created Diamond Earrings
A magical mosaic of round, marquise, and pear-shaped diamonds come together in this show-stopping pair of earrings from Brilliant Earth. This is the kind of jewelry investment you’ll wear for a lifetime.
Metal: 18k white gold | Setting: Prong | Diamond Shape: Round, marquise, pear | Color: F/G | Clarity: S1 | Carat Weight: 2.12ct (round), 1.43ct (marquise), 1.90ct (pear)
Best Bezel Setting: Clean Origin Clara 1/2ct Studs
While the bezel setting has been around for centuries, it’s having a modern moment and feels at home in any minimalist's jewelry box. This gold pair from Clean Origin would look chic worn on their own or mixed with other charming studs.
Metal Type: 14k yellow, white gold | Setting: Bezel | Diamond Shape: Round | Color: F-G | Clarity: VS2-S/1 | Carat Weight: 1ct
Best Hoops: Edge of Ember Pavé Diamond Hoop Earrings
Edge of Ember’s sparkling pavé hoop earrings is the perfect way to add polish to your look. Plus, they're so versatile they could be worn to everything from the engagement party to the actual ceremony. Also, if you’re rocking multiple piercings in one lobe, these hoops would look chic paired with a solid gold hoop beside them.
Metal Type: 14k recycled yellow gold | Setting: Pavé | Diamond Shape: 44 1mm diamonds | Color: G | Clarity: VVS2 | Carat Weight: 0.22ct per diamond
Best Fancy Color: Lightbox Jewelry Lab-Grown Diamond Huggie Hoop Earrings
Lest we forget, not all diamonds have to be colorless, as these beauties illustrate. Lightbox’s pink huggies are a romantic way to include a subtle pop of color into your look while maintaining that element of sparkle.
Metal Type: 10k yellow gold | Setting: Solitaire | Diamond Shape: Round brilliant | Color: Pink | Clarity: VS | Carat Weight: 1ct per earring
Best Fashion-Forward: Montserrat The Línea Earring (Solo)
The Línea Earring can be paired with any other earring(s) in your jewelry box and offers a unique twist on traditional jewelry. If you’re changing into a festive look for the reception, these would make an ideal accompaniment.
Metal: 18K gold plated (yellow or white) | Setting: Prong | Diamond Shape: Round | Carat Weight: 0.4ct
Best Sparklers: Vrai Del Sol Drop Earring
Be still our hearts—these festive earrings are everything and more. With not one but two diamond shapes artfully assembled in a drop-earring silhouette, they’re the epitome of elegance. Also, you can purchase a single earring if you like to mix and match.
Metal Type: 14k white gold | Setting: Prong | Diamond Shape: Pear, emerald | Color: G-J | Clarity: VS2+ | Carat Weight: 1/4ct pear, .16ct emerald, 1/2ct pear
Best Mixed Stones: Diamond Nexus Stacked Pearl Stud Earrings
Balance a diamond’s sparkle with an accompanying pearl for a layered look. This is perfect for someone whose style leans toward the vintage-inspired side of the spectrum.
Metal: 14k white, rose, yellow gold | Setting: Prong | Diamond Shape: Round | Carat Weight: 0.12ct
Best Minimalist: With Clarity Round Lab Diamond Two Stone Drop Earrings
These two-stone drop earrings may be minimalist but they’re anything but boring. Choose between white and yellow gold depending on your style and bask in the simplicity of a bezel setting.
Metal: 14k yellow, white gold | Setting: Bezel | Diamond Shape: Round | Color: I | Clarity: SI | Carat Weight: 0.50ct
What to Look for in Lab-Grown Diamond Earrings
Edge of Ember Founder & Creative Director Lynette Ong notes that lab-grown diamonds go by many names. “Lab-grown, cultured, and man-made diamonds are all ways to describe diamonds created under high-pressure (HPHT) and Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD) in labs,” she says. “They are chemically, physically, and aesthetically identical to a mined diamond.” Because of this, an important thing to look out for when buying a pair of lab-grown diamond earrings is the certification (GIA has offered report services for laboratory-grown diamonds since 2007 and other companies like IGI also offer certification for lab-grown diamonds).
What Are Lab-Grown Diamonds and How Are They Created?
If you’re not familiar with this gemstone category, Magaña offers an easy-to-understand definition of diamonds that are grown in a laboratory or factory. “Although they have essentially the same chemical, physical, and optical proprieties as a natural diamond, their growth structure and atomic level defects allow them to be readily separated from natural diamonds by a well-equipped laboratory such as GIA,” she says.
As for the nitty-gritty scientific process with which lab-grown diamonds are made, Ong says it’s simple. “A small slither of a diamond, known as a ‘seed’ is put into a sealed chamber where immense heat and crushing pressure surrounds the stone for several weeks resulting in gases sticking to the seed and growing the diamond in size,” she says. “The final product is a rough diamond, ready to be cut and polished for use in jewelry,” Magaña adds that lab-grown diamonds form differently from mined diamonds, which is how specialists can distinguish them.
What Are the Sustainability Factors for Lab-Grown Diamonds?
Perhaps the biggest draw for customers when it comes to lab-grown diamonds is the ethical and sustainability considerations. For Ong, a few issues are surrounding mined diamonds (namely: supply chain transparency, environmental impact, and working conditions) and it seems she’s not alone in this sentiment. “As a brand that doesn’t focus on engagement rings, we’re seeing a huge demand from our customers in using lab-grown diamonds across all our product categories,” she says. “And due to the demand of lab-grown diamond options for brides, we are launching a bridal collection in April 2022.”
Are Lab-Grown Diamonds Graded Similarly to Mined Diamonds?
Once a laboratory-grown diamond is fully formed, it undergoes a rating system similar to its mined counterpart. "The GIA Laboratory-Grown Diamond Reports specify the color and clarity of laboratory-grown diamonds, using the same 4Cs terms used for natural diamonds,” Magaña says. Once that process has been completed, the diamond can be purchased in a variety of ways ranging from a loose stone or engagement ring to a pair of dazzling earrings.
Are Lab-Grown Diamonds Simulated?
One way to not think of lab-grown diamonds is as imitations or simulants. “This is incorrect. Simulants—materials that simulate or imitate the appearance of diamonds, like cubic zirconia or moissanite—only look like diamonds,” Magaña says. “They have very different chemical and physical properties that allow trained gemologists to identify them easily.”
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Brides contributor Nicole Kliest has over nine years of experience writing in fashion. Her work has appeared on sites including Who What Wear, The Zoe Report, Cools, Popsugar, Harper's Bazaar, and Elle, among others.
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