Lab made diamonds, lab grown diamonds, synthetic diamonds, man made diamonds, CVD diamonds, and HPHT diamonds: all terms used interchangeably and sometimes incorrectly to describe pure crystalized carbon created in a lab instead of in the Earth. No wonder so many well-meaning consumers are confused.
And hmm it almost seems like the diamond industry wants it this way.
CVD diamond is just the latest in a long list of words all getting at the same thing, so in this article I’ll explain the range of terms and differences between man made diamonds, mined diamonds, synthetic diamonds, and (the dreaded) cubic zirconia. Read ahead so that you’re armed with enough info to make sure you’re getting exactly what you want: a real diamond.
A lab created diamond ring vs a minted diamond ring: do you see a difference?
WHAT ARE LAB GROWN DIAMONDS?
A lab grown diamond is a manmade mineral consisting of pure carbon crystallized in the isometric system. Lab diamonds are made of the same material as natural, mined diamonds and are created in a controlled environment that mimics the conditions under which diamonds occur in nature.
IS A LAB CREATED DIAMOND A CUBIC ZIRCONIA?
Lab created diamonds are not cubic zirconia. Cubic zirconia is made of synthetic zirconium dioxide whereas lab diamonds are made of carbon. Cubic zirconia is a crystal that has been cut to look like a diamond, and is commonly used a low-cost alternative.
WHAT ARE CVD DIAMONDS?
A CVD diamond is a lab made diamond created through the process of chemical vapor deposition. This method is primarily used for large stones. CVD stands for chemical vapor deposition.
ARE LAB GROWN DIAMONDS CHEAPER?
Colorless lab grown diamonds are typically at least 15% cheaper than colorless mined diamonds. Fancy colored lab diamonds are considerably less than extremely rare natural colored diamonds.
CAN YOU TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A REAL DIAMOND AND A LAB CREATED DIAMOND?
No. Mined diamonds and lab created diamonds are both recognized as real by the FTC. The differences are indistinguishable to the naked eye and nearly impossible under magnification.
WILL LAB CREATED DIAMONDS TEST AS REAL?
Lab created diamonds will pass all tests used to confirm a pure carbon diamond. Diamond testers work by measuring electrical conductivity and by measuring how heat moves through the stone. Reputable lab diamonds have microscopic laser inscriptions that are only visible under intense magnification.
DOES GIA CERTIFY LAB GROWN DIAMONDS?
GIA issues one report for natural diamonds and a separate report for lab diamonds. Both reports provide a full 4Cs assessment for cut, clarity, color, and carat. All diamonds undergo the same rigorous grading process.
One diamond was made in a lab, the other in the earth. But not even a diamond tester could tell the difference.
WHAT IS A HPHT DIAMOND?
An HPHT diamond is a lab grown diamond used with a process called high pressure high treatment. HPHT is primarily used for small diamond melee, not large stones.
HOW ARE MAN MADE DIAMONDS MADE?
Man made diamonds are made in a controlled laboratory environment that mirrors the conditions needed for diamonds to form in nature. There are two processes to create manmade diamonds; chemical vapor deposition (CVD diamonds) and high pressure high treatment (HPHT diamonds).
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CVD DIAMONDS AND HPHT DIAMONDS?
Large lab grown diamonds are made through the chemical vapor deposition process, and small diamond melee is made through high pressure, high treatment. Some fancy colored lab diamonds are created through the CVD process, and colored through the HPHT process.
SHOULD I GET A LAB GROWN DIAMOND?
Lab diamonds are a great solution for those who are concerned with the potential negative social and environmental implications of mined diamonds. Lab diamonds are real diamonds, visibly indistinguishable from mined diamonds, recognized as real by the FTC, and less expensive than mined diamonds. However, some people prefer to have a stone that came from the earth.
CAN LAB DIAMONDS GET SCRATCHED?
Diamonds are the one of the hardest natural substances found on the planet and the least likely fine jewelry grade stone to scratch. The only thing that can scratch a diamond is another diamonds, whereas cubic zirconia and glass easily scratch.
DO LAB CREATED DIAMONDS SPARKLE?
Lab diamonds have the same signature sparkle, brilliance, and fire as natural diamonds.
WHAT IS A CULTURED DIAMOND?
The terms cultured diamond, lab created diamond, lab grown diamond, man made diamond, and cultured diamond all refer to minerals that are chemically, physically, and optically identical to mined diamonds, but were created in a laboratory.
WHAT IS A SYNTHETIC DIAMOND?
Synthetic diamond can refer to lab created diamonds that are identical to real diamonds and recognized by the Federal Trade Commission as real diamonds. However, the term synthetic diamonds can also be used to in reference to diamond imitations like cubic zirconia. We do not use this term because of this confusion.
So to recap:
Diamonds are formed in two ways: naturally, in the Earth, or by replicating the exact same conditions in a lab. Lab grown diamonds, lab created diamonds, man made diamonds, and cultured diamonds all refer to the latter kind. As of July 2018, the FTC acknowledged that mined diamonds and man made diamonds are both real. Forbes put it best:
The FTC based its decision in favor of scientific facts, not the mined-diamond industry lobby, giving consumers real information on which to make informed diamond purchasing decisions.
The ruling is simplicity itself. A diamond is a diamond no matter whether it is grown in a lab or comes out of the ground.
One caveat: some websites, diamond retailers and jewelry stores intentionally mix up these terms, and still others do this unintentionally. If you’re investing your hard earned cash on a diamond, please make sure you’re going to a legit jeweler, and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us. Unlike many jewelers, we actually like working with lab grown diamonds and think they’re pretty amazing.