Although lab diamonds have been increasingly popular in the last 10 years, with more people than ever choosing lab gems for a myriad of reasons, they have been common in the jewellery market as early as the 1920s.
But there are many things people don’t know about lab jewels- and how the increased desire for them has transformed the industry. But which is better- lab grown or natural? Here are some of the many questions people have about lab diamonds answered:
No- many gems are able to be produced in lab settings. Lab grown rubies, sapphires, and emeralds are also able to be made into jewellery. For example, there are many Vintage Sapphire Engagement Rings from the 1920s, which were extremely popular. In short, this method of producing gems can be very versatile.
If you are looking for a sentimental piece such as an engagement ring or promise ring to keep, then you might want to consider lab grown jewels. They are 30-50% less expensive than mined jewels. However, if you are looking for an investment piece, lab diamonds lose their resale value. This is because lab jewels can be made at high quantities- while mined diamonds have the ‘rarity factor’- meaning they hold onto their value.
When lab diamonds first began to rise in popularity, they were often advertised as a much more ethical alternative to lab grown diamonds, which unfortunately often involved forced labour and violence when obtaining them. While the Kimberly Process of 2003 limited the amount of ‘conflict diamonds’ entering the market, some still slip through the cracks. Therefore lab diamonds are overall more ethically sourced than natural diamonds. Due to the environmental impact of mining diamonds, many have argued that lab grown diamonds are more sustainable, despite the enormous amount of power used to produce them. However, there is a way to purchase synthetic jewels that solves the sustainability problem- by buying vintage jewellery pieces. As no new synthetic jewels have to be created to buy a piece like this, buying vintage synthetic jewellery can be a very eco-friendly option.
There is little visual difference between the two- they are made up of the same compounds. They cannot be detected by the naked eye- even gemologists cannot tell the difference without specialised equipment. However, there are microscopic laser inscriptions certifying whether each jewel is lab or natural, so you cannot get away with selling a lab grown diamond as a natural one! Natural diamonds also have more flaws, but lab produced gemstones are often completely flawless.
If you want an investment piece that might make a profit, natural gemstones are more profitable. However, if you want a piece of personal jewellery that doesn’t cost the planet, synthetic diamonds might be a more cost-effective option. As of 2021, lab grown diamonds now make up 7-8% of the total diamond market, which has had a substantial effect on the natural diamond industry.