What Is a Lab-Grown Diamond, Exactly, and How Is It Different From an Earth-Mined One?

Did you know that there's a "thing" in the jewelry and gem world known as lab-grown diamonds? I don't want to call it a "trend," since it's a process that is way more extensive than anything fleeting could ever be. If diamonds truly are a girl's best friend, then selecting the perfect diamond, for whatever accessory purpose, is important. So how does a lab-grown diamond stack up against an earth-mined diamond? 

Well, I'm just learning about this fascinating process, since engineering a diamond in a lab setting sounds strangely cool to me. But lab-growns are not the equivalent of those dreaded imitators known as cubic zirconia.

Here's what I've gleaned from Pure Grown Diamonds, a specialist in lab-grown diamonds that claims to have crafted the biggest lab-cultivated, colorless diamond at 3.04 carats with a $23,012 price tag.

Pure Grown Diamonds claim that lab ice is indistinguishable from the regularly earth-mined diamonds and that they come with a price tag that is 30 to 40 percent cheaper. Ladies, if you think your dude is going to pop the question this holiday season or in 2015, you may want to nudge him towards this information. But be sure and do your homework, extensively, since a diamond is forever (or so I hear) and this is just one of many options.

If you're still on the fence about lab-grown diamonds, here are some more pros from Pure Grown Diamonds, which, well, grows diamonds. So remember this is only their side of the story, and it's an interesting one.

1. They Have the Same Look and Makeup

Lab diamonds have the same chemical composition and physical properties, as well as the same optical features as those mined from the earth, per the International Gemological Institute. That means they have the same exact structure and look.

2. You Can Wear Them in Good Conscience

They are eco-friendly and conflict-free, which is not always the case with those minded from earth. So if you are worried about the impact of mining on the planet, since that process alters eco-systems and disturbs habitats, along with the fact that there are human rights issues pertaining to miners and to those who want to sell the mined diamonds, this is a conscientious alternative.

3. They Are More Affordable

Quality one carats mined from earth start at $5,000, while quality one carats from PGD are between $1,000 and $4,000.   

4. The Process Sounds Cool

Here's how diamonds "happen" in the lab setting, per PGD. A carbon seed is placed inside a low-pressure microwave chamber where both hydrogen and methane gases are introduced. A microwave generator pumps energy into the chamber, igniting a glowing plasma ball. Carbon molecules rain on the seed and then crystallization begins. So the earth's process of crystalizing carbon is copied exactly. The maturation process last six to 10 weeks.

5. They Are Not Fake, Despite the FTC Usage of the Term "Synthetic"

Pure Grown Diamonds say that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) uses the term "synthetic" in reference to lab-grown diamonds, but that term is not exactly accurate, since it implies that the stones are imitations. Pure Grown Diamonds says the only difference is that one is lab-grown and the other is grown under the crust of the earth — the process is mimicked to be almost identical. Sophisticated equipment is needed to tell the difference, since lab-growns have a laser-scribed ID invisible to the naked eye.

As more and more consumers learn about this jewelry industry process, I am sure we'll find out some more of the criticisms, questions, and/or concerns about lab diamonds. But for now, it's on my radar. #Science.

Images: Maegan Tintari/Flickr; Giphy (6)

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