These days, diamonds don’t have to come from a mine. Synthetic diamonds are grown in a laboratory environment designed to replicate the conditions under which they develop naturally. In terms of color, cut and clarity, they are almost identical to natural diamonds; they have the same physical properties and atomic structure. It is impossible to tell the difference between synthetic and natural diamonds unless you are a gemologist with specific advanced scientific equipment.
Advantages of synthetic diamonds
There are three significant advantages of synthetic diamonds. The first is the price. At a minimum, synthetic diamonds sell for 10% less than their natural equivalent, but the savings are usually much greater. On average they are 30% less expensive, and the savings can reach up to 50%.
The second advantage of synthetic diamonds is quality. Natural colorless, flawless diamonds are extremely rare. Synthetic diamonds are created from perfect pieces of other diamonds, thus have fewer flaws.
Finally, a synthetic diamond can ease the conscience. It is guaranteed to be conflict-free; there is no chance it is a blood diamond that has made its way into the international market.
Though synthetic diamonds can be easier on the wallet (and the conscience), there are a few things to keep in mind when considering a lab-grown stone.
First, remember that a synthetic diamond is not the same as an imitation diamond. Cubic zirconia and moissanite are both imitation diamonds, meant to resemble the appearance of a diamond. Lab-grown diamonds have the same chemical make-up as the real thing. When shopping, it’s important to understand the distinction to end up with the right product.
There are limitations with synthetic diamonds. Most jewelry stores don’t have them in stock, and some don’t carry them at all. There also aren’t as many options when it comes to carat and color. Synthetic diamonds cannot be created to perfectly match all of the colors natural diamonds are available in. There are also limitations in size; they rarely weigh more than 1 carat, and colorless and near-colorless stones are generally only available up to 1/2 carat.
Finally, if you are purchasing a diamond engagement ring, make sure it is a choice your girlfriend would be happy with. Some women like the history associated with a diamond, and are attached to the idea that the stone has been forming for billions of years. Many women are indifferent or would even prefer a synthetic diamond, but some might be disappointed to learn their beautiful ring was created in a laboratory.