Discussion around the topic of lab-grown diamonds is increasing and we are finding that some of our customers are curious about them and how they compare to natural diamonds. Here at Fairfax & Roberts, our number one priority continues to be helping our customers achieve the perfect result for any piece of jewellery they purchase from us. We have customers requesting lab-grown diamonds for a multitude of reasons and we are happy to make them a piece with whichever stone they choose and have sourced lab-grown diamonds for bespoke pieces on a few occasions. The customer will of course still receive the beautiful Fairfax & Roberts quality that is made to last a lifetime. For those of you considering which option to choose, below is an outline of the questions most asked of us, we hope this helps you with your decision process!
Lab vs Natural Diamonds
Lab-grown diamonds are different from natural diamonds in that they are man-made in a laboratory, sometimes in a matter of weeks. Natural diamonds are made by nature, as a result of intense heat and pressure, formed over millions or even billions of years. It is exactly this passage of time that dictates the higher price attributed to natural diamonds. They have slightly different chemical structures, but the US Federal Trade Commission classes lab-grown diamonds as real diamonds and due to the carbon structure, they should both be considered diamonds.
Price of Diamonds
Lab-grown diamonds cost less than natural diamonds (the price differential varies, but on average they can be 50-70% cheaper), which is part of the appeal. For someone looking for a larger diamond, a lab-grown can offer that size at a more affordable price.
The differential in resale value of lab-grown vs natural diamonds is much larger than the difference in price, however. Whilst natural diamonds can retain 50% of their retail value, at this stage, a secondary market for lab-grown diamond doesn’t really exist.
Lab-grown diamonds are also graded using the 4C’s and carry the same shine, sparkle, colour, and clarity as natural diamonds. They are also as strong and as hard as natural diamonds, both scoring a 10 on the Mohs scale of hardness. Even for jewellers and gemmologists, the only way to tell a diamond is lab-grown is with specialised equipment.
Many buyers choose lab-grown diamonds for environmental and humanitarian reasons, concerned about the conditions surrounding mining. However, most lab- grown diamonds still require large amounts of carbon intensive energy to power the machines in which they are grown. There is therefore no current consensus as to which option is better. The good news is that the diamond industry overall is reacting to the demand from consumers for better practices and so there are now many mines ensuring they offer fully traceable sourcing of naturally occurring diamonds as well as lab-grown diamond companies that are carbon negative. This trend is positive on both sides.
What to look out for
It is always best practice to ensure your diamond comes with certification. Every diamond, whether natural or lab-grown, should come with a certification by leading diamond grading laboratories like GIA, IGI, HRD, AGS and EGL. These certifications are documents that contain details about the diamond's characteristics. The best certification for lab-grown diamonds come from the IGI. They give specific grading for certain qualities like clarity, colour, cut, and many more. GIA is the most well-known and respected grading laboratory for natural diamonds.
It is always safest to purchase your diamonds from a reputable seller such as Fairfax & Roberts, who will be able to provide certification and is a provider you can trust to deliver what you have paid for. Discover our Diamond Certification Guide here.
How do you choose which option to go with? This is a very personal decision, which should take into account all the points in this article. If you are looking for a special, sentimental piece, or an investment piece, you may still want to go with the natural diamond, that you know will retain value and which has taken eons to become the beautiful diamond that it is. However, if you are deciding on a ‘design’ piece, perhaps lab-grown is the way to go? We are still ‘team natural’ at Fairfax & Roberts - I did try on a lab-grown diamond tennis bracelet recently which cost a lot less than it’s natural diamond counterpart, but it just didn’t generate the same excitement for me. What I will say, is that there are no wrong answers here, all we want is for you to walk out of the showroom with a big smile on your face and that definitely can be achieved with both!!
Managing Director, Fairfax & Roberts
Learn more about how to create your own bespoke jewellery piece here or contact us here to learn more about how to purchase your dream diamond.