Laboratory Grown Versus Mined Diamonds: What’s the Difference?
In this article, we’ll be comparing the difference between Laboratory Grown and Mined Diamonds. By better understanding the properties, and origins of each, we hope to support you in making an informed decision that fits your budget, and values.
Mined diamonds are formed naturally over billions of years from a combination of extreme temperatures and high pressure, where carbon atoms bond tightly together under the earth's surface. At temperatures higher than 1150 C and pressures 45,000 times greater than at sea level, crystals formed, resulting in the hardest natural mineral on Earth: diamond (GIA 4Cs, 2019). The formation of mined diamonds is a rare process that takes place deep in the earth's mantle.
On the contrary, lab diamonds are differentiated by their responsible creation above ground, using advanced technology that emulates the natural growth process of a mined diamond. There are two processes; Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD) or High-Pressure High-Temperature (HPHT). These are both conducted in a laboratory setting that allows for precise control, making it possible to minimise the negative environmental and human impact associated with diamond mining.
When we compare mined diamonds versus lab grown diamonds; they both comprise the same chemical composition - Carbon (C), but they differ in their origin. Mined diamonds are formed deep within the Earth’s mantle and contain traces of elements such as nitrogen and boron (GIA 4Cs, 2019). Lab grown diamonds are created by replicating the natural process of diamond formation by introducing a small diamond seed into an environment that imitates the natural growth process, however in a responsible and controlled laboratory setting.
Lab Grown Diamonds are identical to their mined counterparts, even under a microscope. Both types of diamonds have an indistinguishable fire & brilliance, due to their identical refractive index. Graded at 2.41, both gemstones have a fixed refractive index which reliably disperses light, creating the beautiful sparkle which we all adore (Pollard, J., 2023).
Mined and Lab grown diamonds are also graded using the same colour and clarity standards as natural diamonds.
A lab grown diamond is chemically and optically the same as a mined diamond. They are one in the same - real diamonds. Hence, both mined and lab grown diamonds are evaluated using the same grading system and standards created by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), The 4Cs. This grading process ensures that all diamonds, regardless of origin, are held to the same quality standards regarding Carat, Cut, Colour, and Clarity. This grading standard is utilised across multiple governing bodies and institutions that grade both mined and lab grown diamonds.
Environmental Impact of Mined Diamonds
Disturbance of the land is one of the most lasting and visible environmental impacts of mining for diamonds. The adverse effects this also has on the biodiversity of surrounding aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, water consumption levels, noise pollution, metal depletion and the mines’ overall energy footprint is colossal.
Environmental Impact of Lab Grown Diamonds
At The Moissanite Company, we utilise moissanite and cultured diamonds because they are the more sustainable gemstone option. Choosing a lab grown gemstone saves over 65 kgs of CO2, 57 kgs of air pollution and 227 tons of earth, and doesn't require the destruction of vital ecosystems as a direct result from mining.
Whilst there are still emissions involved due to the energy required to grow lab diamonds in a laboratory setting, these emissions can be accurately measured by governing councils and offset. Regardless, it is undeniable that these emissions are incomparable to the irreversible damage mining has on our ecosystems and the degradation of land. As technology becomes more efficient at growing lab grown diamonds, in due course, advancements will be made to create these beautiful gemstones more effectively and sustainably.
Cost is often a significant factor when deciding between mined and lab grown diamonds. Simply put, mined diamonds are more expensive than lab grown diamonds, due to the labour-intensive mining process and rarity of larger carat size. On the contrary, lab grown diamonds have a more efficient production cost, which translates directly to a more affordable product.
The Moissanite Company was established on the principles of bespoke-ness, ethicality and affordability. Hence, our Lab Grown Diamonds range between $4,000.00 and $15,000.00 and are significantly more affordable compared to their mined counterparts. We place priority on keeping our pieces attainable for every couple. We remain true to our values and don’t excessively mark up our products, something that is quite commonplace in the traditional diamond industry.
Diamonds hold a lot of emotional value, and the origin of the diamond may affect how you feel about it. Whilst some people place more value on a diamond that has been naturally formed by the earth, it is important to choose a diamond that reflects your values and holds the emotional value you desire. When we compare a mined diamond and a lab grown diamond, they are one in the same, chemically and optically. The value and sentiment of your beautiful ring is a result and reflection of the love between you and your partner - not the origin of the stone.
At The Moissanite Company, we pioneer the jewellery industry with an unwavering dedication to producing the highest quality pieces, whilst remaining committed to our core values of sustainable manufacturing. We play our role to support environmental protection through sustainable practices, responsible sourcing and conscious crafting alongside smaller, yet still impactful, daily pledges to sustainability. We understand that others may appreciate and prefer the idea of a diamond with a lower environmental impact, holding similar values in line with our own.
You too, can play a small role in helping us pioneer the industry by making responsible choices when purchasing your forever ring.
Where diamonds come from. GIA 4Cs. (2019, September 19). https://4cs.gia.edu/en-us/where-diamonds-come-from/
Pollard, J. (2023, June 12). Natural diamond? lab-grown diamond? how to choose?. IGI GemBlog. https://www.igi.org/gemblog/natural-diamond-lab-grown-diamond-how-to-choose/