Diamonds are forever. They are also terribly misunderstood, from their origins to their rarity to their magical indestructible qualities. Conventional wisdom is that only the four C’s matter when you’re buying a diamond–colour, cut, clarity, and carat–but there’s another C to consider–Created. Before you choose a diamond, learn about not only “natural” stones, but lab-grown diamonds as well. Educating yourself helps you make the right decision, one you’ll feel good about for years to come.
What’s A Natural Diamond?
A diamond is not a piece of highly pressurised coal. It is carbon and is formed about 90 kilometres down in the mantle of the earth. Diamond deposits rumble to the surface when volcanoes erupt, which is why mines are found in areas of ancient volcanic activity. Diamonds are also not all that rare–when you think about all the diamond jewellery in the world, clearly they are rather abundant. Huge and flawless stones, like the ones in the Crown Jewels, are rare, but the mineral itself is fairly common. And while diamond is the hardest mineral on the Mohs scale (talc is the softest), it can break if the stone is not cut properly. It just doesn’t scratch
What’s A Lab-Grown Diamond?
A lab-grown, or created, stone is exactly the same as a mined diamond. The chemical composition and the optical qualities are the same, the only difference is that the mineral is created in a controlled environment. It takes about a week to grow a diamond that can be cut to a one carat stone–the created diamond is in the same mineral form as a mined stone and has to be cut by a master stone cutter. Gemologists have difficulty telling the difference between mined and lab-grown diamonds, they need ultraviolet light to examine the nitrogen clusters found in natural stones. Lab-grown stones are certified as such.
The Benefits of Lab-Grown Diamonds
The history of diamond mining is, like many histories, not attractive in the rearview mirror. Modern mining is somewhat improved, but forced child labour is a fact of mining, and global humanitarian efforts to stop this and other inhumane forms of mining are slow to have an impact. Many diamond lovers shy away from natural stones to avoid the guilt factor.
Growing diamonds in a lab is an energy-intensive process, there’s no getting around it. The lab environment leaves a carbon footprint from the immense amounts of electricity it takes to reach and maintain the heat and pressure in the diamond chambers. On the upside, many diamond creators are environmentally conscious and use renewable power when possible. Diamond mining, on the other hand, is much more aggressive to the Earth. The mines themselves displace wildlife and foliage, not to mention the scarring of the earth from the digging. Then there’s the oil and gas it takes to run the equipment, transporting the stones to cutters, and then through to the retail stores.
Lab-grown diamonds are high-quality stones that lack the flaws and inclusions that are so common in mined stones. The controlled growing environment means a whiter and brighter stone. This is not to say that all created diamonds are flawless; there are impurities in the stones–like mined diamonds, the molecular structure can vary somewhat, even in the lab. Like mined stones, it does take an experienced cutter to bring out the beauty and sparkle of a given stone.
If you want a coloured diamond, that’s not a problem with a created stone. The advantage here is that coloured stones are quite rare in nature and are more expensive than a white diamond. A lab-grown coloured stone is available, has fewer flaws, and deeper colour.
Lab-grown diamonds are about 30% less expensive than a mined diamond. This economy of stones gives you the flexibility to choose a bigger stone, platinum over gold, or a more intricate, or even custom, design.
The only downside to a lab-grown stone is that they are a fairly new technology, and it’s unknown how they will hold their value over time.
Whatever your diamond choice, it’s important to work with a jeweller you can trust to guide you in your decision. Australian Diamond Wholesale Brokers has the expertise to help you choose the right stone and setting for your diamond jewellery.