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Lab Grown vs Natural Diamonds: Which One Suits You?

Explore the similarities and differences between lab grown and natural diamonds. Chemically and optically identical, these diamonds are ideal for all types of jewelry. They both offer long-lasting brilliance and impressive sparkle. Learn about their creation processes, their pricing considerations and their durability.
Seemingly endless facets of brilliance, an inner fire that captures attention from every angle and impressive durability that creates a gem unlike any other – diamonds are truly one-of-a-kind. Perfect for engagement ring, necklaces, earrings and everything in between, these timeless gemstones have historically been exclusively natural creations. In more recent years, scientists have cracked the code to create diamonds here above ground. Lab grown diamonds were initially created for industrial purposes but as time has gone on, laboratories have started to successfully grow jewelry-quality larger diamonds. 

 There are several trusted methods for creating lab grown diamonds that yield stunning gemstones. Consistent quality and scalable production make lab grown diamonds the latest option for fine jewelry gems.
Lab diamond stud earrings set in white gold.
With stunning lab grown and natural diamonds on the market, there are new options for buying diamond jewelry. Learn more about the differences between lab grown diamonds versus natural diamonds to help you find the right gem. 

What Makes a Diamond Real?

Both lab grown and natural diamonds are considered “real” diamonds, as both gemstones have the same chemical composition. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission updated its guidelines for lab made diamonds in 2018, ruling that they are not synthetic diamonds but rather lab grown diamonds. So, while many people consider natural diamonds to be the “real” diamonds, both lab grown and earth made diamonds are both real diamonds made of tightly packed carbon atoms. They both have the same chemical and optical properties, making them stunning gems for any jewelry style. 

Lab Created Diamonds vs Natural Diamonds: Creation

The creation of these gems is the biggest difference between natural and lab grown diamonds. Lab grown diamonds are created in a controlled laboratory setting, typically through High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) or Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) methods. These diamonds are created in a laboratory over several weeks or months, starting from a seed upon which layers of carbon grow. Once the desired diamond size is reached, the lab diamonds are then finished from rough gems into jewelry-quality diamonds. 

 Natural diamonds, on the other hand, were created deep in the earth over millions or billions of years. Carbon atoms bonded together in exceptionally hot conditions with high pressure, building layers of tightly packed carbon over time and forming a diamond. The diamonds sat deep in the earth for millions of years, until volcanic eruptions quickly pushed them to the surface. These eruptions, known as Kimberlite eruptions, are believed to have occurred 65.5 to 25 million years ago. They quickly brought diamonds to the cooler conditions of the earth’s crust, allowing the gems to harden in rocks that they are then mined from. The natural diamonds are eventually cut and polished from rough gems into diamonds fit for jewelry. 

 The origin of lab created and earth made diamonds is their biggest difference. Despite having vastly different origins, both types of diamonds bring the same optical and chemical components.
Close up of a lab grown diamond necklace featuring a solitaire diamond on a white gold chain.

Lab Grown Diamonds vs Earth Created Diamonds: 4Cs

The objective qualities of diamonds, both earth created and lab made, are determined by their 4Cs: cut, color, clarity and carat. The 4Cs of diamonds are used to determine their quality by assessing an individual diamond’s performance in the four distinct categories. Because earth created and lab made diamonds are chemically and optically the same, they can both be uniformly graded by their cut, color, clarity and carat. 

 The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) offers in-depth analysis of both lab grown and natural diamonds, allowing buyers to purchase their preferred gem type with full transparency of the stone’s quality. Diamond simulants, such as moissanite and cubic zirconia, do not come with GIA ratings. 

 High-quality diamonds are available in both lab made and natural varieties, with a wide range of GIA ratings at every one of the Cs. Just as there are large variations in diamond quality for natural diamonds, two lab made diamonds can have vastly different GIA ratings depending on their 4Cs. 


Lab Diamonds vs Real Diamonds: Cost

When considering the cost of lab diamonds versus natural diamonds, rarity is the biggest factor that creates price differences between the two types of diamonds. Natural diamonds carry a higher price tag than lab created diamonds due to the rarity value of these earth made gems. All the natural, earth made diamonds are already created so there is a finite number of them. Lab made diamonds, on the other hand, can be produced at scale meaning their value is not tied to their rarity as they can be made limitlessly. This gives lab diamonds a much lower price tag than natural ones. 

 Natural diamonds cost more than lab created diamonds, but they also hold a unique value that impacts their resale price, giving them higher resale values than lab diamonds. Lab made diamonds do not hold this rarity value, so their initial purchase price and resale values are lower than those of natural diamonds.
White gold tennis bracelet featuring lab grown diamonds.

Lab Grown Diamonds vs Real Diamonds: Certification

Because natural and lab made diamonds are chemically identical, they can be graded to the same exacting standards. GIA assessments and certifications are available for both lab and natural diamonds. Both types of gems can also be insured with jewelry insurance


Natural vs Lab Grown Diamonds: Appearance

When comparing the appearance of natural and lab made diamonds, especially with the unaided or untrained eye, there aren’t any significant differences to see. This is because lab made diamonds behave the same as natural diamonds, with the same refractive qualities and additional optics. In terms of jewelry, this means that both kinds of diamonds have brilliance, sparkle, fire and other sought-after qualities that make them perfect for any wear. 

 In non-scientific terms, lab made and natural diamonds both look the same because they are both diamonds with the same chemical structure. They’re both leading options for rings, bracelets and any other type of jewelry. 


Lab Diamonds vs Natural Diamonds: Buying Process

At Blue Nile, we make it easy to choose the perfect lab made or natural diamond for any jewelry style. We offer a large selection of loose natural diamonds and loose lab made diamonds for sale, with diamonds of all shapes, sizes and colors to choose from. To purchase a lab made or natural diamond, simply review our options, paying special attention to each gem’s GIA ratings.

FAQs About Lab Grown vs Natural Diamonds

Are lab created diamonds as good as real diamonds?

Lab and natural diamonds are both excellent choices for jewelry. They’re chemically and optically identical, giving unique sparkle to any piece. Yes, lab diamonds are just as brilliant as natural ones.

What are the differences between lab and natural diamonds?

The biggest differences between the two are their creation process and rarity. Lab diamonds can be created endlessly in controlled settings, while natural diamonds are created within the earth. This makes natural diamonds rare, giving them value due to this scarcity.

How can you tell the difference between lab diamonds vs natural diamonds?

To the unaided and untrained eye, there are no differences when looking at lab or natural diamonds. These gems both have the same refractive qualities, chemical composition and strength. An expert gemologist may be able to tell the differences between these two types of diamonds when comparing their trace inclusions. These differences do not influence the beauty or durability of lab grown and natural diamonds.

Which is better, lab or natural diamonds?

When deciding which type of diamond is better, it all comes down to personal preference. The “better” diamond is the one that has your preferred qualities. Some people prefer the rarity of natural diamonds, while others prefer the non-mined element of lab diamonds. If you are searching for ethical diamonds, our natural or lab grown diamonds are both excellent choices.

Are natural diamonds more expensive than lab grown?

Yes, natural earth made diamonds have a higher price tag than lab grown diamonds. Natural diamonds also hold higher resale values.

Do both kinds of diamonds look the same?

Yes, natural and lab grown diamonds have identical optical properties, bringing virtually indistinguishable appearances. No two diamonds are exactly alike, but you can always count on our natural and lab made diamonds to bring unique sparkle to any jewelry design.