Are Lab-Grown Diamonds Real? Uncovering the Truth Behind Lab Diamonds.
Last Updated on January 27, 2023 by Rolf Hartmann
SALES ALERT! Save when you buy at our best-rated lab diamond jewelers:
Are lab-grown diamonds real? This is a question that many diamond shoppers are asking as they consider their options for buying jewelry. Lab-grown diamonds have become increasingly popular in recent years, but what exactly do we mean by lab-grown, and how can you tell the difference between mined and laboratory-created stones?
In this guide to lab-grown diamonds, we will explore all aspects of lab-created diamonds to answer the ultimate question: Are lab-grown diamonds real? We’ll compare mined and lab-grown diamonds, discuss ways to test them, look at alternatives like cubic zirconia or moissanite, and finally, share tips for saving on lab-grown diamonds.
So join us on this journey as we attempt to determine if lab-grown diamonds measure up against their mined counterparts!
- What are Lab-Grown Diamonds?
- Are lab-grown diamonds real?
- Comparing mined and lab-grown diamonds
- How to tell if a diamond is lab-grown
- Can you tell if a diamond is lab-grown?
- Can a jeweler tell if a diamond is lab-grown?
- Can a laboratory tell if a diamond is lab-grown?
- Are lab-grown diamonds valuable?
- Can a jeweler detect if a diamond is lab-grown?
- Will lab-grown diamonds pass a diamond tester?
- How long do lab-grown diamonds last?
What are Lab-Grown Diamonds?
Lab-grown diamonds are an alternative to mined diamonds created in a laboratory environment. They have the same chemical makeup as natural diamonds and possess identical physical properties. But, lab-grown diamonds offer several advantages over their naturally occurring counterparts, making them an attractive option for diamond shoppers.
Definition of lab-grown diamonds
A lab-grown diamond is a real diamond grown in a controlled laboratory setting using advanced technology that replicates the conditions under which diamonds form in nature. The result is a genuine diamond with identical optical, thermal, and chemical properties as those found in nature.
How are lab-grown diamonds made?
Two main methods are used to create lab-grown diamonds: High-Pressure High-Temperature (HPHT) and Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD).
HPHT involves subjecting carbon seeds to high pressure and temperatures up to 2200° Celsius. CVD uses plasma technology to deposit thin layers of carbon atoms onto preformed substrates such as silicon carbide or aluminum nitride wafers.
Both processes take about weeks or even months from start to finish but can produce near-colorless stones more quickly, depending on the size of the lab diamond being made.
Finally, due to advances in production techniques, it’s now possible for labs to grow larger lab diamond carat sizes more quickly than ever before, meaning you don’t have to sacrifice size when buying a lab-grown diamond.
Lab-Grown diamonds are a beautiful and sustainable alternative to mined diamonds. They offer an ethical and affordable option for diamond shoppers, but it’s essential to understand the science behind them to determine if they’re real.
Let’s dive deeper into this topic by exploring how to tell the difference between mined and lab-grown diamonds and testing for authenticity.
In Summary: Lab-grown diamonds are real and have the same chemical makeup as natural diamonds. They can be created in a laboratory using two main methods: HPHT or CVD. Labs can now produce larger carat sizes quickly, making them an attractive and cheaper option for diamond shoppers.
Are lab-grown diamonds real?
Let’s address the elephant in the room. Yes, lab-grown diamonds are real diamonds. They are made of the same material as natural diamonds and have the same physical, chemical, and optical properties. The only difference is that lab-grown diamonds are created in a controlled environment instead of being mined from the earth.
What does the Federal Trade Commission say about lab-grown diamonds?
In 2022, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) stated that a diamond is a diamond regardless of its origin, whether mined or grown in a laboratory. Previously, sellers had to advertise lab-grown diamonds as being created in the laboratory. However, the FTC no longer requires diamond sellers to label lab-grown diamonds, just as they are not required to label mined diamonds.
While lab-grown diamonds are real and have the same chemical, physical, and optical properties as natural diamonds, they differ in terms of cost, quality, and environmental impact. We’ll explore that in the next section of our guide to whether lab-grown diamonds are real.
Comparing mined and lab-grown diamonds
When it comes to diamonds, many shoppers are faced with the difficult decision of choosing between mined and lab-grown diamonds. Therefore, it’s important to understand the differences between these two types of diamonds to make an informed purchase.
We have already established that…
There is also no difference between mined and lab-created diamonds in terms of quality and durability. Both have similar physical properties, such as hardness (10 on Moh’s scale) and refractive index (2.42).
But when it comes down to chemical composition, mined diamonds contain trace elements that may not always be present in a laboratory-created diamond. That is not a bad thing. It only means that lab-grown diamonds rarely display fluorescence.
One difference that does matter is the cost! The cost difference between mined and lab-grown diamonds can vary greatly depending on size, shape, color, clarity, and other factors. However, lab-grown diamonds are much more affordable than their mined counterparts.
In fact, our comparison of mined vs. lab-grown diamond prices revealed that lab diamonds are 60-80% cheaper than the exact same mined diamond. This is due to lower production costs associated with laboratory growth.
Additionally, since no mining is involved in producing a lab-grown diamond, they are often considered more ethical options for those concerned about environmental impact or labor practices associated with traditional diamond mining operations.
There are several ways to tell if a diamond is mined or lab-grown. The easiest way is by looking at its lab diamond certificate. Most certified lab-grown diamonds will have “lab-grown” printed on their lab diamond certificate, while mined diamond certificates do not include this information.
Overall, it is important to compare mined and lab-grown diamonds’ cost and environmental impact. And on both counts, lab-grown diamonds are remarkably better than their mined equivalents.
How to tell if a diamond is lab-grown
Lab-grown diamonds look identical to their mined counterparts – because they are! They have all the same physical properties, such as hardness, refractive index, fire dispersion, specific gravity, etc., making them impossible to distinguish from one another without special equipment or training.
To be completely sure, laboratories usually combine several tests to check if a diamond is mined or lab-created.
- Presence of fluorescence. Lab-grown diamonds rarely exhibit fluorescence; thus, more often than not, if a diamond is fluorescent, it’s likely a mined diamond. However, this is not a reliable measure of origin since lab diamonds can also fluoresce, as described in our guide to lab-grown diamond fluorescence.
- Presence of nitrogen. Most mined diamonds have slight traces of nitrogen, while lab-grown diamonds usually don’t, at least not in large quantities. But, since lab-grown diamonds, too, may contain nitrogen, it’s not a reliable test.
- Inclusions. Lab and natural diamonds may differ in their inclusions, with metallic inclusions only present in lab-grown diamonds. However, metallic inclusions are not always present and, therefore, not a perfect test.
- Growth patterns. One of the more reliable tests is examining growth patterns. All diamonds, mined and lab-created, display growth patterns, requiring specialized equipment to see them. CVD diamonds, in particular, can reliably be tested in this way.
In addition to laboratory tests, there are only two ways you can tell if a diamond is lab-created.
- The lab diamond certificate issued by an independent diamond laboratory.
- The diamond laser inscription present in all graded and certified diamonds.
The first requires that you have the diamond certificate, while the laser inscription can be viewed under magnification through a microscope, which any jeweler should be able to do.
Can you tell if a diamond is lab-grown?
No, not unless you are a jeweler or have access to specialized equipment. Or if you have the diamond certificate in front of you. A diamond certificate is the only way a layperson can tell if a diamond is lab-grown.
Try it yourself
Do you think this is mined or lab-grown?
What about this one?
Can a jeweler tell if a diamond is lab-grown?
This question gets asked a lot. And the answer is: It depends.
A jeweler cannot tell if a diamond is lab-grown using standard gemological observations or equipment. Instead, diamonds must be sent to specialized laboratories that perform intricate tests.
A jeweler can only tell if a diamond is lab-grown by using a microscope to look for the laser inscription. However, if the lab diamond is not laser-inscribed, a jeweler cannot reliably tell if it’s lab-grown or mined.
Some jewelers may have equipment that can measure some trace elements, which are often present in mined diamonds. The simplest approach is to use ultraviolet fluorescence detectors (UVF). However, as you can learn in our guide to lab-grown diamond fluorescence, lab-created diamonds rarely exhibit fluorescence caused by the trace elements that mined diamonds contain.
That’s why some jewelers will claim they can detect if a diamond is lab-created. However, as you can read in our guide to lab diamond fluorescence, even lab diamonds can be fluorescent. And thus, it’s not a reliable test.
Can a laboratory tell if a diamond is lab-grown?
Yes, but only specialized laboratories and advanced equipment can reliably distinguish between mined and lab-grown diamonds. Typically, they need to perform several tests, as mentioned above. As a result, some laboratories have developed expensive, proprietary equipment to test for diamond origins, such as GIA iD100, DiamondView, DiamondCheck, and DiamondSure.
In Summary: Lab-grown diamonds are more affordable than natural diamonds and have the exact same physical, chemical, and optical properties but may lack certain trace elements. Even an experienced jeweler cannot reliably tell if a diamond is mined or lab-grown: That requires specialized and costly laboratory equipment. So, the only real difference between lab-grown and mined diamonds is the origin. And, of course, lab-grown diamonds are much cheaper and ethically and environmentally superior to mined diamonds.
But how do lab-grown diamonds compare with diamond alternatives? We’ll explore next in our guide to lab-grown diamond realness.
Lab-grown diamond alternatives
Diamond alternatives have long been available to consumers. However, consumers often confuse lab-grown diamonds with diamond alternatives. But, as we (and the FTC) have clearly stated, lab-created diamonds are real diamonds. They are not fake or a diamond alternative.
Diamond alternatives can, at least to the untrained eye, look like diamonds. The most well-known is Cubic Zirconia (CZ) and Moissanite, which we will compare with lab-grown diamonds below.
Is this a lab-grown diamond or a diamond alternative?
Cubic zirconia vs. lab-grown diamonds
Cubic zirconia is an artificial diamond alternative that has been around since the 1970s. It is made of zirconium dioxide, which gives it its signature sparkle. While cubic zirconia looks similar to diamonds, it does not have the same hardness or durability as natural or lab-grown diamonds.
In terms of cost, cubic zirconia is much less expensive than natural or even lab-grown diamonds. However, when compared side by side with a real diamond, most people can quickly tell the difference between them due to their different levels of brilliance and clarity.
Moissanite vs. lab-grown diamonds:
Moissanite is another popular diamond alternative discovered in 1893 in Arizona by Nobel Prize winner Dr. Henri Moissan. It’s made from silicon carbide crystals and offers more fire and brilliance than cubic zirconia but still lacks the hardness of a real diamond.
The cost of moissanite tends to be slightly more expensive than cubic zirconia but significantly cheaper than natural and lab-grown diamonds. However, when comparing moissanite to a real diamond, some people may find it difficult to tell them apart due to their similar levels of brilliance and clarity. However, an experienced jeweler should be able to help you distinguish between them.
Can out tell moissanite and lab-grown diamond apart?
How about this one? Moissanite or lab-grown diamond?
In Summary: Lab-grown diamonds are real and have the same hardness and durability as natural diamonds. While diamond alternatives such as cubic zirconia or moissanite are cheaper than even lab-grown diamonds, their physical, chemical, and optical properties are very different. Cubic zirconia and moissanite are, in contrast to lab-created diamonds, not real diamonds. An experienced jeweler can distinguish between diamonds and the alternatives.
How to test if a lab-grown diamond is real
Testing the authenticity of a diamond is an essential step in ensuring you are getting what you pay for. Whether it’s a lab-grown or mined diamond, there are several ways to test its authenticity and make sure it is real.
Visual inspection is the first way to tell if your diamond is real. A trained eye can spot differences between diamonds that may not be obvious to the untrained eye.
Another way to test if your diamond is real is by using a weight test. Since natural diamonds have a higher mass density, they will weigh more than diamond alternatives such as cubic zirconia or moissanite, which are much lighter.
However, to get a precise measurement of your stone’s weight compared with the weights of diamond alternatives, you will need highly sensitive and accurately calibrated specialized scales.
A refractometer measures how light passes through the stone when placed under intense magnification. It then compares it against known values for different types of diamond alternatives with the known values for lab-grown diamonds.
The higher refractive index (RI) value indicates greater brilliance, which means more sparkle from within, indicating whether the diamond is real or a diamond alternative. This method also requires specialized equipment but gives accurate results when carried out correctly.
Thermal conductivity home test
Diamonds conduct heat differently than other materials, so this thermal conductivity test helps identify them easily without requiring special tools. All one needs here is an ice cube!
Place the ice cube over the suspected diamond alternative. If it takes longer for the ice cube to melt, then chances are that it’s a real diamond (lab-grown or mined).
However, this method should only be used as a last resort since there could be false positives, too!
Diamond certificate and laser inscription
To ensure authenticity, getting your diamond tested by an independent gemological laboratory such as GIA (Gemological Institute of America) or IGI (International Gemological Institute) is crucial. All certified diamonds are laser-inscribed with a unique ID corresponding to the diamond certificate.
Are lab-grown diamonds real and other lab diamond FAQs
Are lab-grown diamonds valuable?
Yes, lab-grown diamonds are valuable. They have the same physical and chemical properties as mined diamonds, making them just as durable and beautiful. Additionally, they cost up to 40% less than mined diamonds of comparable quality due to their more efficient production process. Lab-grown diamonds offer an ethical alternative for diamond shoppers looking for a conflict-free option that is still high in quality and value.
Can a jeweler detect if a diamond is lab-grown?
Yes, a jeweler can tell if a diamond is lab-created, but only using specialized equipment such as spectrometers or by reading the laser inscription through a microscope. That’s because lab-grown diamonds have identical physical and chemical properties as mined diamonds.
Will lab-grown diamonds pass a diamond tester?
Yes, lab-grown diamonds will pass a diamond tester. This is because lab-grown diamonds are made of the same material as mined diamonds and have the same chemical composition, optical properties, hardness, and thermal conductivity. As such, they possess all characteristics that make them indistinguishable from mined diamonds when tested with a diamond tester.
How long do lab-grown diamonds last?
Lab-grown diamonds are made in a laboratory setting, using advanced technology to create an identical product to mined diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds are extremely durable and will not degrade over time due to their hardness rating of 10 on the Mohs scale, just like mined diamonds. They are also resistant to scratches, chipping, fading, or discoloration from everyday wear and tear. In short, lab-grown diamonds can last forever if properly cared for.
How to save on lab-grown diamonds
Lab-grown diamonds are already 60-80% cheaper than mined ones with the exact same diamond grades and properties.
But if you want to save more, consider the following:
- Choose a lower diamond color grade instead of going for near-colorless diamonds. Start with G and consider moving all the way to grade J or K if the diamond is set in gold, which influences the hue of the diamond’s brilliance.
- If you are considering a lower color, such as K, look for a fluorescent lab diamond. The blue fluorescence will cancel out some of the yellow diamond tints.
- Look for carat weights just below round numbers, e.g., 0.97 or 2.95 carats. They will often be cheaper, and the difference is not noticeable.
- Buy at one of the best places to buy lab-grown diamonds, which will offer you the best prices on diamonds.
- Look out for discounts on lab-grown diamonds and lab-grown diamond sales. We monitor all the best deals and discounts for you and list them in one place. See the list of all current deals on lab-grown diamonds.
How to ensure you are buying a real lab-grown diamond
It’s critical to ensure that you buy a real lab-grown diamond. Follow our tips below to avoid buying a fake or diamond alternative.
- Make sure you see the diamond certificate before making a lab diamond purchase.
- You can check the authenticity at the independent diamond laboratory that has graded and certified the lab diamond.
- Take the lab diamond to a jeweler and ask them to read the laser inscription under a microscope. Ritani offers to send your diamond to a local jeweler where you can inspect it before committing – free of charge.
- Buy only from reputable and highly-rated lab diamond jewelers. We review lab diamond jewelers so that you can compare and buy at a trustworthy retailer.
We recommend the below lab diamond jewelers.
- James Allen: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Read our James Allen lab diamond review.
- Clean Origin: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Read our Clean Origin review.
- Ritani: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Read our Ritani lab diamond review.
- Grown Brilliance: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Read our Grown Brilliance review.
- Brilliant Earth: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Read our Brilliant Earth lab diamond review.
- With Clarity: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Read our With Clarity review.
In conclusion, it is clear that lab-grown diamonds are real and are just as beautiful and spectacular as mined diamonds. But lab-grown diamonds have several advantages over mined diamonds, including being more affordable and environmentally friendly.
Compared to diamond alternatives, lab-grown diamonds are real and just as perfect as mined diamonds. At the same time, other options, such as cubic zirconia, moissanite, or Swarovski Crystal, are not real diamonds. So, in short, the answer to “are lab-grown diamonds real?” is a big resounding YES!