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October 29, 2021 4 min read

Laboratory grown diamond is an uprising trend in the jewelry industry. It is always excited when diamond is concerned. However, many may us if a laboratory grown diamond a real diamond, or it is just another synthetic substitute like cubic zirconia and moissanite?

 

Strictly speaking, either the chemical composition or the physical and optical properties of a lab-grown diamond is the same as a natural diamond. They both are crystalized carbon with the same grade 10 hardness, same reflection rate and scintillation. Whereas moissanite and cubic zirconia are chemical compounds of ZrO2 and SiC respectively, their physical properties are obviously different to natural diamonds. Natural diamonds are formed under a natural environment with high temperature and pressure, while lab-grown diamonds are produced in laboratories simulating to a such environment. It is rather similar to say, a salmon you raise in a farm has the same DNA as the one you catch in the ocean. The difference is where they grew and of course the price. Talking about price, a lab-grown diamond is usually less than half the price of a natural diamond, that is pretty attractive.

 

Is lab-grown diamond developed to compete with or even replace natural diamond? You have too much conspiracy indeed! Like internet was invented for military purposes and eventually became our daily necessity, lab-grown diamond was developed in the 50’s for industrial use only. Actually, with the size and color of the lab-grown diamond they produced at that time, you do not want them for your jewelry.

 

When lab-grown diamond has a price advantage prevailing over natural diamond, theoretically they can be produced as much as needed and their value is worryingly doubtful when compare to the later one, which is “very rare” in supply. However, this is just another paradox of the century. As you may know, the diamond reserves under the ground is even higher than ruby and sapphire, yet more expensive. It is one of the most successful marketing scheme, which worth every marketing student studies seriously, that made diamond outcasted the other precious stones in the luxury market. “Diamond is forever”, what a romantic phrase to link the stone emotionally with love (well, nobody says but ruby is forever too… it will not rot anyways). Generally speaking, the supply of diamond is practically monopolized. When everybody is chasing behind the product, they can always restrict to provide less and make it “rare”.

 

Natural verses lab-grown diamond, what is your choice? There are several factors that you can take into consideration:

  • Price – A lab-grown diamond prevails undoubtfully.
  • DNA? They both have the same chemical composition and physical & optical properties, so no difference.
  • Social cost – Environmental and social cost are of significant concern of people nowadays, unfortunately as we knew, the mining of natural diamond can be disastrous to the environment, not even to mention the fact that one out of 4 diamonds sold on the market is a so called “blood diamond”. However, you do not need to feel guilty of adding this kind of cost to your shopping cart when picking a lab-grown diamond.
  • Aesthetics – The 4Cs of a natural diamond is also applicable to its lab-grown brother, and as a matter of fact, it is easier to grow a diamond with higher quality in a laboratory than in nature. Eventually, the beauty of a piece of jewelry depends greatly on the design as well.
  • Return on investment – The price of lab-grown diamond is comparatively stable while that of natural diamond inflates almost every year. Natural diamond is obviously a better investment and proper choice in this sense. Well, this is true as far as you are going to sell your jewelry collection one day, you won’t, right? I hope you do not need to too. Then, with the amount of money you spend on a natural diamond jewelry, why not buy 2 or even 3 different pieces of lab-grown with the same amount instead? This seems more economic effective and you can have greater marginal satisfaction too.
  • Product quality assurance – Like natural diamonds, lab-grown diamonds are also assessed by authoritative institutes such as IGI (International Gemological Institute https://www.igi.org), who will also issue a detailed assessment report as requested. Since late 2020, GIA (Gemological Institute of America https://www.gia.edu) also provides the same service to lab-grown diamonds.

 

As an easy reference, the costs of the two designs of earrings below are estimated both in natural and lab-grown diamonds.

18K white gold flower earrings
center stone: approx. 60/100 ct. each
E color SI natural diamond approx. HK$38,000 - HK$40,000/pair
E color VVS lab-grown diamond approx. HK$18,000/pair

18K white gold flower earrings
center stone: approx. 60/100 ct. each

side stones: approx. 30/100 ct. each side
E color SI natural diamond approx. HK$48,000 - HK$50,000/pair
E color VVS lab-grown diamond approx. HK$26,000/pair

 

Almost forgot to mention, De Beers, who suggested “Diamond is forever” and played a big role against lab-grown diamonds, is now a stakeholder of this newly developed market.

 

For more information about lab-grown diamond, here is the GIA blog to find out.

https://4cs.gia.edu/en-us/blog/what-are-synthetic-diamonds

Savio Cheang
Savio Cheang


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