Gems of the future: Should you buy a 'grown diamond'?

Gems of the future: Should you buy a 'grown diamond'?

Nature vs nurture

Text: Vimidamini Haridasan

Image: World of Diamonds

What's the difference between a 'natural diamond' and a 'grown diamond'? We take a deeper look

It's time to sit up, and pay attention to diamonds. Gone are the days when we would have to wait years before being able to lay our eyes on the precious mineral from the earth. With the advancements in technology, diamonds can now be grown in a lab. Now before you brush off these chemical creations, there are a few things to note of the diamond counterpart. We learn from Karan Tilani, the director of World of Diamonds, on the reasons why we should embrace the potential alternative in the future.

Not as easy as ABC

Unlike what a young Michael Jackson sang in his hit song, growing a diamond in a lab, is not as easy as 1, 2, 3 or simple as do, re, mi. We will spare you the technical details but know that the task of growing a diamond requires intense pressure and temperature. For example, using the High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) method, diamonds are created by replicating the process in which the natural stones are formed. It uses temperatures of 900°C to 1,300°C and pressures of 45,000 to 60,000 bars. To give you an idea of just how that might be, the standard sea level pressure measures just one bar.


The real deal

Diamonds created in a lab are real diamonds. However the difference lies in the technologies and modified compounds used to speed up the growth process. So while a diamond from a lab is as good as the real thing, the chemical composition and crystal structure will determine if the end product falls into the category of a real diamond.

In fact, you would only be able to tell the difference between a high-quality lab-made diamond and a natural diamond through an advanced spectrophotometer. Through this method, the different growth patterns, electromagnetic waves and fluorescence are visible. It is perhaps the only way to tell the two apart from each other. 

Cost difference  
There may not be a significant difference in terms of quality and the final product. However, it must be known that there is a pricing difference between the lab creations and the natural diamonds. As pointed out by our expert, a naturally mined Fancy Blue diamond weighing in at about 0.50 carats would cost you a whopping $300,000 from a branded retailer. However when a lab creation is made with exceptional technology, it would cost about half the price.


Conflict free
You won't be seeing Leonardo DiCaprio fighting Djimon Hounsou in any Oscar worthy scene here. Conflict free diamonds are those that ensure the miners who risk life and limb to produce them are not exploited by conglomerates. Purchasing a lab created diamond is one of the ways in which we can do our part to save lives and enjoy the beautiful creations with a peaceful mind. 

Common misconceptions

Diamonds made in a lab are not Cubic Zirconias. They are also not inexpensive nor do they have a low value. In fact, there is a lot of time, energy and cost that goes into growing a real, solid grown diamond. The term 'grown diamond' is often confused for diamond look-alikes or low-grade synthetic diamonds.


Grab one of your own

Russian-based mining conglomerate, the World of Diamonds Group, is foraying into the market of grown diamonds to supplement its offering of mined diamonds. However, Tilani did point out that others such as Pure Grown Diamonds — formerly Gemesis Inc — is another source to turn to for lab created gems; albeit, they employ a different process to how diamonds are formed in nature. One familiar name that grows these gems is the De Beers Group, but only for research and industrial purposes.