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Diamonds used to take millions of years to form. Now, thanks to technology, these precious gems are developed in mere weeks. But don't look down on lab-grown diamond engagement rings—they're every bit as bright, sparkling, and eye-catching as those who feature naturally found diamonds.
What Is a Lab-Grown Diamond?
A lab-grown or lab-created diamond is a diamond grown in a controlled laboratory setting through processes that mimic the natural high heat and high-pressure conditions of Earth. Lab-grown diamonds are very similar to natural diamonds and can be fully formed in a few weeks rather than millions of years.
“Lab-grown diamonds are identical to natural diamonds in nearly every way," says gemologist Anubh Shah. "They have the same chemical, physical, and optical qualities as Earth-mined diamonds."
Meet the Expert
Anubh Shah is a trained gemologist and third-generation diamond cutter who is passionate about making diamonds accessible to the modern consumer. He owns an engagement ring company With Clarity, which offers natural and lab-created diamonds.
But, there are a few ways lab-grown diamonds differ from natural ones. Ahead, everything you need to know about lab-grown diamonds—from the cost to the reasons behind their growing popularity—before you go engagement ring shopping.
Pros and Cons of Lab-Grown Diamond Engagement Rings
Because of how they are made, lab diamonds are conflict-free and ethically sound. With growing awareness of the violence and human rights abuses that are a problem with some diamond mines, many conscientious couples are looking for alternatives to traditional diamonds, and that’s how they discover lab-grown diamonds. Also, lab-grown diamonds are typically eco-friendly, and certain cutters ensure that they are carbon-neutral when producing diamonds.
People choose lab-grown diamond engagement rings for a lot of other reasons, too. “Oftentimes, they are excited to be able to get a diamond that is larger in size or higher in quality than they might have been able to with a natural diamond. This enables people to size up to a larger carat for their desired shape. At the same time, people who are purchasing lab diamonds tend to have more contemporary tastes when it comes to the ring setting itself. This can include styles like the hidden halo, contemporary twist designs, and those where the metal of the ring is sleek,” Shah says.
“Many couples also like the technological advancement of producing a lab-grown diamond and the uniqueness of it compared to the traditional natural diamond. The excitement around being part of something new and revolutionary is something a couple can enjoy together.”
There’s no doubting the appeal of lab-grown diamonds, but there are still reasons people choose to go with traditional, naturally-found diamonds. Shah points to the fact that lab-grown diamonds lack the “emotional” component of Earth-created ones; natural diamonds taking millions of years to produce is quite a different story than one created in under 10 weeks. Also, the long-term resale value is unknown since lab-grown diamonds are a fairly new market. These man-made diamonds can also be seen as non-traditional, which could be a big problem for brides who favor tradition.
What to Look for in a Lab-Grown Diamond Engagement Ring
- Do lab-grown diamonds compare favorably with real diamonds? Natural diamonds are formed in the Earth’s crust, while lab-grown diamonds are man-made. They've been around for over 20 years, however, it wasn't until the last five to seven years that lab diamonds have become jewelry grade. Shah reports that they are now on par with natural diamonds. In addition to white diamonds, lab-grown diamonds are now available in a variety of colors like yellow and pink, which are very rare in their natural states. Lab diamonds of the highest quality are grown from a seed under conditions in which the purest form of carbon, Type IIA, is used. Lab-grown diamonds are graded on the same parameters of cut, color, and clarity as natural diamonds. Also, they have the same certification processes that natural diamonds do.
- How are lab-grown diamonds different from natural diamonds? The only real difference is in their formation. Upon looking at a natural diamond and lab-grown diamond side by side, there would be no way to tell which was which. This is why it is important to purchase a certified diamond to ensure that it is vetted for quality,” Shah says.
- Are people actually buying lab-grown diamond rings? “Since January , we’ve seen a shift from 100 percent natural to about 50 percent of customers ordering lab diamond. A Bain report from 2019 pegs the lab diamond market growth to be between 15 to 20 percent last year alone. We think it’ll be higher this year,” Shah says. He adds, “Over the last five years, it has been perfected to the point where lab-grown diamonds and natural diamonds can’t be told apart. As with any technology-focused industry, there definitely will be more efficiencies and controlled processes in the future that could speed up the rate at which diamonds are grown and also provide more control on the quality of the diamonds. However, only time will tell how fast these advancements can be achieved.”
- Do lab-grown diamonds look different than real ones? Some common myths and misconceptions about lab-grown diamonds have persisted since the news of their existence. Some people assume they will look different, but they don’t. Shah says people mistakenly think they are “fake,” but they are not. He explains, “They are the same exact composite as a naturally-unearthed diamond.”
- Do lab-grown diamonds have value? "Some also mistakenly think they are not worth anything. However, they are diamonds and possess value, even though they are manufactured.”
- What is the pricing for a lab-grown diamond? The supply chain for a natural diamond can be complex, and the logistical costs can add up, making natural diamonds more expensive than lab-grown diamonds. Shah reports that the most amazing aspect of lab-grown diamonds is that they can cost 30 percent less than a natural diamond.
- Where do I find a lab-grown diamond? Lab diamond rings are not carried by every jeweler. If your heart is set on a lab-grown diamond, you may want to ensure a store sells them before going to try on rings. These diamond rings are different from a generations-old tradition of getting married with an Earth-mined diamond. Since lab-grown diamonds are sold by newer retailers, oftentimes, the ring designs are more modern, contemporary, and fresh compared to the traditional retailers that only sell natural diamonds. It’s no wonder they’re growing in popularity among young couples who want to get married.
How to Care for Your Lab-Grown Diamond Engagement Ring
Much like a traditional ring, you should perform regular cleaning of your lab-grown diamond ring. Depending on your ring style, definitely consider regular maintenance of your ring to check for loose stones and wear-and-tear of prongs.
Scroll down to see a wide range of lab-grown diamond engagement rings.
Clean Origin Perfect Fit Milgrain Petite Ring
Cue the romance with this wow-worthy engagement ring that contemporary brides will love. A dazzling round center diamond in a prong setting is accompanied by a row of lab-created diamonds sprinkled along the band.
Pure Carats Six Claw Classic Solitaire Round Brilliant Cut Lab Diamond Bridal Ring Set in Rose Gold
Be prepared to dazzle with this rose gold stunner that's sustainably made and gorgeous. A polished solitaire round diamond is paired with a castle set eternity band. Pro tip: You can also choose from a cushion-cut, oval-cut, emerald-cut, or princess-cut lab-grown diamond shape.
Helzberg Diamonds Light Heart Lab Grown Diamond Cushion Halo Engagement Ring in 14k White Gold
Shine bright with this lab-grown diamond cushion halo ring that looks like a million bucks. The center stone is surrounded by not one, but two impressive halos paired alongside an eye-catching diamond band.
Clean Origin Frances Art Deco Ring
For a vintage aesthetic and one-of-a-kind feel, we recommend this standout engagement ring with Art Deco flair. A round center diamond is surrounded by a halo of round lab-grown diamonds and double rows of diamonds for the perfect 360-degree ring selfie.
Helzberg Diamonds Light Heart Lab Grown Diamond Engagement Ring With Pear Shape in 14k White Gold
A perennial classic, this romantic pear-shaped diamond engagement ring is a real catch—sparkling pavé band and all. Helzberg's collection of Light Heart lab-grown diamonds are not only ethically sourced but they're just as sparkly as the real thing.
Lab-Created Diamonds by KAY Engagement Ring 1-1/3 ct tw Round-Cut 14k White Gold
Steer clear of trend-driven pieces with this sophisticated 14k white gold ring that you'll wear and love for a lifetime. A round-cut, lab-created diamond center stone is surrounded by a stunning halo of lab-created diamonds and a standout pavé band.
Pure Carats Six Claw Classic Solitaire Marquise Lab Diamond Engagement Ring in Yellow Gold
Everyone's old-school favorite is back and as charming as ever. This alluring marquise lab diamond engagement ring is shown in a classic yellow gold setting, but it can also be set in white gold and platinum or rose gold.