When author H.G. Wells first published his short story, The Diamond Maker back in 1894, about a man who devoted his life to creating "synthetic" diamonds, the idea of humans creating diamonds on-demand seemed like a distant fantasy. Today, it is a reality.
Lab-grown diamonds, man-made diamonds, cultured diamonds — whatever you choose to call them — have seen a surge in popularity in recent years. While the technology to create diamonds for industrial use has been around for only 50 years, it's only been in the last five years that this has been refined to produce man-made diamonds that are indistinguishable from naturally occurring diamonds with the naked eye.
But should you buy lab-grown diamonds for yourself or as a gift for someone else? In this article, we'll take a closer look at lab-grown diamonds, the process that's used to create them, what they look like, how much they cost, and how they can complement your own jewellery collection.
What are lab-grown diamonds?
Just like Earth-found diamonds, lab-grown diamonds are crystallized carbon. The only difference is how they are formed and how rare they are. Where naturally occurring diamonds were formed billions of years ago deep within the Earth's crust, lab-grown diamonds are created above-ground by scientists in a laboratory.
Rapid advances in the technology used to create lab-grown diamonds over the past few years mean that scientists are able to produce beautiful stones with the same sparkle and clarity as their Earthly counterparts.
How are lab-grown diamonds made?
There are a couple of different ways of producing lab-grown diamonds, usually starting with a "seed", which is a tiny sliver of grown diamond.
The two most common methods are Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD), where diamond seeds are loaded into a plasma reactor then mixed with carbon-containing gasses and heated with microwave energy, or the High-Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) method, which replicates the conditions under which diamonds are naturally formed in the Earth.
The first method (CVD) has become the preferred process for producing lab-made diamonds today, and the one used to create our own collection of Lightbox lab-grown diamond jewellery.
Regardless of which method is used, lab-created diamonds have the same chemical and physical properties as earth-mined diamonds including their incredible hardness and brilliance.
Should you buy lab-grown diamonds?
Lab-grown diamonds have truly changed the face of jewellery, but should you buy these man-made stones?
We think lab-made diamonds are a beautiful way to expand your jewellery collection and bring some sparkle into everyday life. Here are six reasons why lab-grown diamonds could be the perfect choice for you or someone special.
Lab-grown diamonds are more affordable
It's no secret that naturally occurring diamonds come at a premium. There is a finite amount of these precious stones in the world and their rarity commands a higher price. Lab-made diamonds, however, can be produced on a much greater scale, making them less rare and more affordable.
Our Lightbox lab-grown diamonds are priced at $800 per carat, which is about 90% less than an Earthly diamond of the same carat weight and quality. The affordability factor means that more people than ever before can enjoy the unrivaled brilliance of diamond jewellery, whether it's for a special occasion or for an everyday hint of sparkle.
Lab-grown diamonds come in a range of spectacular colours
One of the most exciting things about man-made diamonds is the selection of stunning colour choices available. While colourless diamonds are still a classic choice, the technology used to create lab-grown diamonds adds stunning shades like blush pink and pale blue diamonds.
These types of colours are so rare and priceless in nature, that they would be completely inaccessible for most people—unless you're Jennifer Lopez of course. Lab-grown diamonds open up the world of fancy coloured diamonds for many more people to enjoy.
Lab-made diamonds make beautiful gifts
Natural diamonds come with a high price tag, so they are usually only reserved as a gift for someone very special or a milestone like a 60th wedding anniversary. The affordable price of lab-grown diamonds means you can give and receive the gift of diamonds for many reasons, from birthdays to promotions, or even mothers' or father's day. Imagine the joy and surprise on the recipient's face when they open that box to find a piece of stunning diamond jewellery inside!
Add some more sparkle to your jewellery collection
If you've spent time and care to curate a beautiful collection of jewellery, but feel that diamonds may be out of your budget, lab-grown diamonds could change all that. A beautiful pair of lab-grown diamond earrings or a sparkling pendant are much more affordable than their natural counterparts. Before you give up on your dream of adding diamonds to your collection, take a look at some lab-grown pieces, you might be surprised what options are suddenly available to you.
Environmentally and ethically kind
Whether you are purchasing natural or man-made diamonds, it's important to buy from a reputable jeweller that takes care of both the planet and its workforce. At Blue Nile, we are proud to only sell conflict-free diamonds and support the Kimberley Process, which tracks and certifies diamonds globally. We are also committed to working with suppliers who conduct ethical mining practices.
Lab-grown diamonds are created in laboratories by teams of skilled scientists, rather than being mined from the Earth. While it does require energy to create man-made diamonds, Lightbox's state-of-the-art facility in Portland, Oregon, uses hydroelectric energy to power much of its operations.
Whether you choose to buy natural diamonds or lab-grown, make sure you do your homework and are comfortable with how the stones are sourced or created.
Diamonds are forever and for every day
The rarity and value of diamonds mean some people view them as too precious to bring out except for on special occasions. While we would argue that life is the only occasion we need to wear and enjoy diamonds, lab-grown diamonds can make this a reality.
Whether it is a pair of lab-grown diamond studs for your next Zoom call or a Lab-Grown Blue Diamond Baguette Stackable Ring for a dinner date, the affordability of man-made diamonds means you can show off some sparkle whatever the occasion.
Things to know before buying lab-grown diamonds
Before you dive and add some lab-grown diamonds to your collection, there are a couple of things to be aware of. Just like natural diamonds, lab-grown diamonds should meet certain quality standards and come certified. Here's what you need to know.
Check for Certification
Lab-grown diamonds should be certified to confirm their quality. All Lightbox diamonds contain a laser-inscribed mark of quality that is invisible to the naked eye, but signifies that each stone has met the internationally recognized standards of the '4 C's': cut, clarity, colour, and carat weight.
Be Aware of the Value of Your Stones
Earth-found diamonds are a rare and finite resource so the price can fluctuate regularly and they can be considered an investment. Lab-grown diamonds can be created to meet demand so the value is naturally lower. Rather than being considered an investment, Lab-grown diamond jewellery is something to wear and enjoy every day for its sparkle and beauty.
Check the return policies of the jeweller
Regardless of whether you are buying Earth-found diamonds or lab grown, it's important to check the return policy of the jeweller. If the piece you've purchased isn't right or you've changed your mind, you want the return process to be smooth and simple. At Blue Nile, we offer 30-day free returns which come with a postage-paid shipping label and insurance to cover your item while it's in transit.
Bring some sparkle into your life
If someone told you just ten years ago that we would have the technology to create diamonds in a lab that are virtually indistinguishable from Earth-found diamonds, for a fraction of the price, you might not have believed them. This huge technological innovation means that the beauty and sparkle of diamonds are now accessible to far more people and we believe that can only be a good thing.
Whether you've always longed to dazzle in some diamond jewellery but the cost made it inaccessible, or you want to add to your existing collection of diamond jewellery with some show-stopping coloured stones or larger pieces, lab-grown diamonds could be the perfect fit for you.