Buying Lab-Created Diamonds
Lab-created diamonds are grown in a lab with a natural, mined diamond seed. They have the same physical, optical, and chemical characteristics as mined diamonds.
Lab-grown diamonds have been around for a long time, and the methodology for growing gem-quality lab-grown diamonds has improved significantly in recent years.
From a historical perspective, during the 1950s General Electric was the first company to figure out that carbon could be pressurized to a point where it would crystalize. After this discovery, two primary methods are now used to grow lab diamonds HPHT and CVD: High-Pressure, High-Temperature and Chemical Vapor Deposition.
While industry leaders and jewelers were initially skeptical of lab diamonds and expected their demand to fade over time, almost all have started trading them. Lab-grown diamonds are here to stay and will serve diamond enthusiasts as a great new product, complementing mined diamonds and not replacing them. They are great for individuals with budget constraints, especially those looking for fancy color diamonds at a low price.
After reading this article, to purchase a lab-created diamond, consider the following five places as our top-rated retailers for this purpose:
- James Allen (buy lab diamonds at James Allen here), our top-rated retailer.
- Blue Nile (visit site here), a top industry leader.
- Brilliant Earth (visit site here), an amazing company.
- Clear Origin (visit site here), an emerging online leader.
- Whiteflash (visit site here), a top-rated retailer known for exceptional diamond cutting skills.
Best Places to Buy Lab-Created Diamonds
Buying a lab diamond online is ideal, especially if buyers are confident about their choices and have acquired sufficient insights on buying lab-grown diamonds at a reasonable price. In our experience, local jewelers often need more expertise to help buyers make an informed decision and need to carry sufficient inventory for comparison purposes.
Before buying lab-grown diamonds online, explore the following questions to identify a reliable company and make the shopping experience more pleasant.
- Is the company selling high-quality diamonds?
- Is each diamond carefully examined? Or are they merely drop-shipping diamonds from a wholesaler?
- Do they have a quality control process?
- Is their return policy reasonable? Do they offer trade-in, resale, or anything relevant indicating long-term support? In other words, do they back their products?
- What are their reviews like? Check the reviews on platforms to get an accurate perspective of the company’s reputation.
- Although the diamond is the critical aspect of the purchase, do not overlook the rest of the engagement ring. What is the quality of the setting like? Where do they come from?
While there are many options for buying lab-grown diamonds, only select a reputable jeweler. Expect to pay a slight premium for the convenience of a stress-free, low-risk, high-quality transaction (serenity comes at a price). For reference, here is our list of the best places to buy diamonds or engagement rings.
Also, buying a lab diamond with a reliable grading report or certification is critically important. The best certification labs for lab-grown diamonds include the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), American Gem Society (AGS), International Gemological Institute (IGI), Andwerp World Diamond Center (AWDC), and Gemological Science International (GSI).
With consideration of the above criteria, the following five are the best places for buying lab-grown diamonds online:
James Allen has an extensive collection of exquisite lab-grown diamonds in various shapes and price points. They provide consumers with the highest quality diamonds and the widest variety at competitive prices. To create a unique engagement ring, James Allen offers every tool a buyer needs and makes the process simple and enjoyable. "We aim to take what is a famously intimidating process and make it both more transparent and more enjoyable," says Brantner, a James Allen official.
What makes James Allen unique?
James Allen understands that while purchasing an engagement ring online may be simple and fast, predicting how it will look in person can be challenging. To solve this difficulty, they show their jewelry in spectacular 360-degree video technology, mixed with 24/7 customer service and unmatched prices, to provide customers with a genuinely one-of-a-kind shopping experience, all from the comfort of their homes. With the Ring Studio, James Allen’s newest service, they are taking it a step further by giving clients complete creative control over their setting style, enabling them to choose the metal and design for both the head and shank.
On top of their large stock of natural diamonds, they offer over 35,000 lab-created diamonds, which may be placed in any engagement ring. There are also over 1,000 fancy-colored lab diamonds available, albeit the majority are yellow.
James Allen provides exceptional customer service. A buyer can start a real-time diamond consultation at any moment without an appointment with an expert to compare stones and review specifications.
Since its inception in 1999, Blue Nile has become one of the world's most reputable jewelry shops, widely regarded as the industry leader in the internet market for diamonds and engagement rings. Blue Nile can offer stunning engagement rings without sacrificing quality or craftsmanship, thanks to their tried and reliable online business model and low overhead expenses. In collaboration with Lightbox, the company launched a gorgeous collection of lab-grown diamond rings in 2020. Engagement rings set with white, blue, or pink lab-grown diamonds are featured in this small yet eye-catching jewelry collection.
What makes Blue Nile unique?
In addition to engraving, Blue Nile provides free ring resizing for the first year on all bespoke engagement rings. It also offers a lifetime manufacturer's guarantee and a flexible payment plan.
The products offered by Blue Nile strike a good mix between aesthetics, value, and quality. Every lab diamond is guaranteed minimum VS clarity and a Very Good cut grade. Besides, all of Lightbox's lab diamonds are priced at $800 per carat. Customers may choose from white, blue, or blush pink lab diamonds. No matter what color a buyer chooses, the pricing remains the same. This is an excellent approach to obtaining a colored diamond at a reasonable price.
Brilliant Earth is a well-known jeweler selling ethically sourced diamonds, following their "beyond conflict-free" policy that appeals to socially responsible buyers. It is one of the best locations to buy lab-created diamond engagement rings, with over 30,000 IGI certified lab diamonds and unique ring settings.
What makes Brilliant Earth unique?
Brilliant Earth has a virtual try-on app to help buyers get a better idea of what a ring might look like in person. As the name suggests, this convenient service allows individuals to virtually try on engagement rings by just uploading a photo to the site and picking a preferred ring type. Brilliant Earth also provides virtual sessions and consultations with their jewelry team.
Brilliant Earth has one of the largest online inventories of lab-created diamonds, with over 75,000 available. It also provides a beautiful range of colored lab diamonds, most of which are pink or blue.
The company’s work is not limited to ethical stones; they also create their rings out of recycled metal, decreasing the need to mine new metals. Their ring boxes are crafted from natural wood that has been responsibly sourced. The corporation also has a vital social mission, emphasizing giving back to mining communities and supporting rainforest conservation initiatives.
Clear Origin was founded in 2017 by industry insiders with in-depth knowledge of the diamond trade. The company’s mission is to improve the diamond shopping experience with a commitment to quality and ethical conduct. Clear Origin only sells lab-grown diamonds and has established a name in the industry for offering high-quality products. Customer service at Clear Origin can be improved.
What makes Clear Origin unique?
- Free Shipping
- 100 Day Returns
- Free Ring Sizing
- Independently Certified Diamonds
Whiteflash is a highly trusted jeweler based out of Sugar Land, Texas. As one of our top-rated retailers, they recently started selling high-quality precision-cut lab-grown diamonds. The company is known for its "a cut above" diamonds and has earned exceptional reviews from its customers and the Better Business Bureau, repeatedly earning the BBB Pinnacle award.
What makes Whiteflash Special?
- Amazing brand
- Exceptional customer service
- A Cut Above Diamonds
- Free Shipping and Returns
Why Buy Lab-Grown Diamonds?
Lab-created diamonds are grown in labs and can also be called lab-made or synthetic diamonds. These diamonds are engineered and cultured in a controlled environment using a unique technological process miming the natural process of diamond formation beneath the earth. Lab-grwon diamonds are physically, chemically, and optically like natural, mined diamonds. In short, they look like natural GIA certified loose diamonds .
While lab diamonds have been in the experimentation phase for hundreds of years, the research has become a success in the last several decades. Experiments are still ongoing to grow diamonds with purer physical, chemical, and optical structures.
Benefits of Lab-Grown Diamonds:
- Lab-made diamonds are affordable. Getting the same value as natural diamonds at a low price is one of the significant benefits of lab-created diamonds. A lab-grown diamond costs about 50-75% less than a natural diamond.
- Because they are cultured, treated, and cut in a controlled laboratory environment, lab-grown diamonds are conflict-free, unlike naturally mined diamonds that may affect native communities and leave the environment degraded.
- Lab-made diamonds are as beautiful as natural diamonds in every way. Check our lab-made versus natural diamonds article for more insights.
- Lab-created diamonds have good clarity, color, cut, and carat size. Also, they can be manufactured in various colors, ranging from white to yellow, green, pink, and blue.
The Manufacturing Process of Lab-Made Diamonds
Creating lab-grown diamonds is simple; we only need a carbon seed to initiate it. These diamonds are made by placing a "seed" into a chamber of extreme heat, pressure, and a special deposition process. This chamber mimics the natural environment of diamond formation.
The primary process used for synthesizing lab diamonds is crystallization. It allows a diamond seed to grow and mature for six to ten weeks before being cut and polished. Afterward, the grown fully and polished cut diamond is graded by a grading lab to determine its 4Cs and other quality factors.
In both colored and white lab-created diamonds, the trace elements’ composition differs slightly from the naturally mined ones. This difference can only be measured via special equipment capable of detecting minor differences in the growth of crystals and trace elements.
The two main methods for growing lab diamonds include:
- HPHT (High-Pressure, High-Temperature)
- CVD (Chemical Vapor Deposition)
HPHT vs. CVD
The High-Pressure, High-Temperature method was introduced in the 1950s and is the original method of manufacturing lab-made diamonds. In addition to growing diamonds, this method can also enhance the color of lab diamonds to blue, pink, and yellow, among others.
The Chemical Vapor Deposition method was introduced in the 1980s. It imitates how diamonds form in interstellar gas clouds, using less pressure and smaller machines. Under this method, after placing a diamond seed in a vacuum chamber, the chamber fills with carbon-rich gas and is heated to up to 1500 degrees Fahrenheit. The high temperatures turn the gas into plasma and carbon, allowing the seed to grow.
Both HPHT and CVD come with their respective advantages and disadvantages. Thus, it is essential to assess each stone on its own merits. Some dealers are agnostic, while others prefer HPHT to prevent crystal strain and CVD to avoid any blue nuance or phosphorescence changes. Admittedly, the bulk of diamonds in the marketplace available today are CVD, especially in the D/E color and 1.25ct.+ range.
Brown and grey undertones, black polycrystalline inclusions (especially on the girdle), strain or graining in the diamond, signs of iterative growth patterns called striations, and obvious HPHT post-growth treatment (which can give a CVD diamond a "straw" or light-yellow grey color) are all indicators of CVD.
Lab experts search for boron's blue nuance, titanium's grey undertone, phosphorescence (not the same as fluorescence), growth sector zoning, and metal flux inclusions in HPHT diamonds.
Major properties of lab-made diamonds include:
- On the Mohs scale, it has a hardness of ten
- Face-centered cubic internal crystal structure
- Hardness at 2.42 vs. mined at 2.42
- SP 3 Carbon Diamond Bonds (%) – 100%
Buy Lab-Made Diamond Engagement Rings at Brilliant Earth
How are Lab-Grown Diamonds Inspected?
Jewelers often hand-pick lab-grown diamonds and bring them to their showrooms for examination, where they are confirmed, studied, assessed, videotaped, and tested. Conventional tools and sophisticated laboratory techniques are employed to determine the quality of the diamonds, and the test is conducted in a private space with full-spectrum illumination. Some jewelers prefer to avoid buying diamonds at trade exhibitions or offices where the lighting may be adjusted or enhanced to disguise flaws.
Most quality control criteria, like mined diamonds, are based on gemological foundations. The main questions addressed are:
- Is the grade of the diamond correct?
- Are the product's color, clarity, and cut/make consistent with what they see in person?
Afterward, an assessment is carried out for bow ties, light leakage, crown paneling, pavilion bulge, culet size, fish eyes, empty and lifeless centers, irregular chevrons, and other features in fancy forms in the above 2 carat diamonds.
Taking Ideal Scope or ASET photographs is also an option, but it is believed that ASETs only tell part of the story of a diamond's look.
Several methods are utilized to measure some of the abnormal properties of lab diamonds after they are obtained. Comparing a lab diamond to others of lesser and superior quality is more effective than examining it in isolation. Dealers worldwide trust the eyes and judgment of lab experts, which is why several clips, comparisons, and opinions are shared with them.
Resale Value of Lab-Made Diamonds
While the resale market for lab-grown diamonds is small now, we expect it to grow over time.
The product has been around for a relatively short time, so the resale market for lab diamonds is far less than that for mined diamonds. However, if you buy a high-quality lab diamond, there will undoubtedly be a resale market. Jewelers who frequently buy lab diamonds from the public usually face availability shortages.
For first-time buyers, diamonds, whether mined or created in a lab, are not investments. Because a jeweler who buys a secondhand diamond must resell it for a profit, the buying price will be significantly lower than the retail price.
Are there any exceptions? What about an auction sale of an extraordinarily rare 5ct natural blue diamond? Most probably. However, for the average consumer purchasing a 1.5ct G VS1 round, the resale market for natural and lab-grown diamonds is typically a discount off of the retail price. Things may differ for traders or individuals who have a connection in the industry.
In all honesty, jewelers are not concerned with how much you have spent on your lab-grown diamond when they make an offer. Their offers are primarily based on market availability of comparable gems and Rapaport discount rates, so whether you could get a great price or overpaid while buying it rarely matters. Alternatively, an offer is not predicated on a percentage of your payment; it happens to be that way. A seller will have difficulty selling a low-quality, super cheap lab diamond, just as you would with a poor natural diamond.
What is the Difference Between Mined and Lab-Grown Diamonds?
Lab-grown diamonds are anatomically identical to mined diamonds; even a skilled diamond specialist cannot identify the difference with the naked eye. Thus, even trained individuals would need a microscope or, at the very least, a jeweler’s loupe to tell the difference. However, 10x magnification may only work if a lab-grown diamond is laser engraved, which many are not.
For HPHT diamonds, blue nuance is a genuine concern since a diamond that has it appears unnatural. Experts look for clues of blue nuance as a mark of HPHT lab diamond.
CVD stones have strain lines and carry a pattern through which they can be labeled lab grown. These patterns look like internal graining but are visible throughout the stone. In some cases, the grader may also observe that post-growth treatment has been carried out to boost a diamond’s color. CVD diamonds in D, E, and F ranges often do not grow in such colors and are treated post-growth.
Available Colors in Lab-Grown Diamonds
As mentioned earlier, lab-grown diamonds have different colors, ranging from white to green.
Below, we will review the colors of lab-grown diamonds, the available shapes, the cut and clarity, their growth time, and their price compared to natural diamonds.
White Lab-Made Diamonds
A carbon diamond with zero impurities is referred to as a colorless diamond. However, natural and lab-created diamonds have impurities, mainly in nitrogen, because nearly every natural or lab-created diamond starts as a yellow diamond.
The nitrogen lattice in natural diamonds is separated after millions of years of exposure to heat and pressure. The diamond shines white because of the separation.
Lab-grown diamonds do not have millions of years to split, though growing the diamond with little or low nitrogen produces the same outcome.
An incredibly controlled environment with high temperatures and pressure is needed to grow a white diamond.
The process of extracting nitrogen and boron from the cell makes the growth slower, so 1.0 carat of a diamond grows in up to two weeks.
The growth of white diamonds is temperamental and time-consuming, so their supply is minimal. The price of lab-grown white diamonds per carat will fall within $2,100-$8,000, depending on the carat, cut, size, and clarity.
Lab-made diamonds have a clarity ranging from IF to SI2.
Yellow Lab-Created Diamonds
Like white diamonds, yellow lab-created diamonds are chemically, physically, and optically identical to the naturally mined yellow diamond. Yellow lab-created diamonds are available in the yellow range, from fancy yellow to vivid yellow.
Nitrogen is the primary source of color for naturally mined and artificial diamonds. Introducing impurities at a controlled rate during the culturing process gives the yellow lab-created diamond color. The more nitrogen is added to the process, the yellower the diamond, though adding excess nitrogen makes the diamond brownish.
It takes five to six days to complete a 1.0 to 2.0-carat diamond production cycle in the growth machine. The growth of yellow lab-grown diamonds is faster because the nitrogen impurities speed up the development.
Yellow lab-made diamonds are not abundant in nature. Besides, since yellow lab diamonds cost about 75% less than the scarcely available natural yellow diamond, the yellow lab-grown diamond is always a good option.
Since yellow man-created diamonds are easier to make, they are less expensive than their natural counterparts.
Most yellow-shaped diamonds grow in a truncated octahedral shape. Shapes like Asscher and Emerald are typically acquired to maximize the yield.
Blue Lab Diamonds
Blue lab-grown diamonds are chemically, physically, and optically identical to the naturally mined blue diamond. Blue man-grown diamonds cost about 90% less than naturally mined pink diamonds. A blue diamond made in the lab ranges from fancy blue to intense blue.
Boron is the source of color for natural and lab-made blue diamonds—a controlled introduction of boron results in a varied blue diamond.
A 1.0-carat blue diamond takes approximately 7–10 days to be produced. Boron helps in speeding up the growth of the diamond.
A lab-made blue diamond amounts to only 10% of the cost of a natural blue diamond. Besides, it falls within $7000-$12,000 per carat.
Blue lab diamonds grow in Hexa-cubic shapes, while the best-produced ones are usually round and have corner shapes like Cushions and Asscher cut.
Pink Lab-Grown Diamonds
Like white, yellow, and blue diamonds, pink lab-made diamonds are chemically, physically, and optically identical to naturally mined pink diamonds. Pink lab-created diamonds cost about 95% less than naturally mined pink diamonds. Pink lab-made diamonds range from fancy pink to deep pink diamonds.
While the white, blue, and yellow engineered diamonds get their color during growth, the pink lab-created diamonds get their color after growth treatment. The processes are referred to as irradiation and annealing.
Pink diamonds can also be made from slightly yellow lab-made diamonds through irradiation. Irradiation means showering the diamonds with neutrons and electrons.
Other diamond colors, such as green, red, and purple, are also available, and their growth process is the same as that of the pink man-created diamond.
Naturally mined pink diamonds cost between $56,000 and $150,000 per carat because of their availability, but synthetic diamonds cost between $3,000 to $10,000 per carat.
The shape of a pink diamond is the same as that of a yellow one.
It depends on the saturation of manufactured diamonds—the lesser the saturation, the lower the clarity.
The market for lab-grown diamonds is growing. Instead of treating lab diamonds as an alternative to natural diamonds, it is best to consider them an additional choice; both have their unique place in the diamond industry.
For diamond buyers with a limited budget, lab diamonds offer fantastic value.
The color of fancy color lab-grown diamonds after production is permanent and resistant to wear and tear. However, avoiding exposing it to high temperatures during the mounting process is still recommended.