Laboratory Grown vs Natural Diamonds

Laboratory Grown vs Natural Diamonds

Written by Alice Rochester on 10 June 2023

Choosing the right diamond for your piece can seem like a minefield.

What Cut? What Colour? What Clarity? What Carat? And thanks to science… Laboratory Grown or Natural and why?

First of all, let us clarify. Laboratory Grown Diamonds are real diamonds. But there are major differences to be aware of, that can impact your final decision.

Let’s start with the straight forward element:

  • Natural diamonds are mined after years of organic, underground growth
  • Laboratory Grown Diamonds are created in a controlled factory environment

Think of it like finding an orchid in the wild, and one that has been cultivated in ideal conditions in a greenhouse. They both look like orchids. They both are orchids.

But, there is an important narrative that needs to be broken, and it may clinch a vote on which diamond you choose.

In recent years, Laboratory Grown diamonds have become notorious for marketing a larger size for less money and have been presented as a more ethical and green process.  

The reality behind the real journey and processes run deeper, and is invaluable knowledge.

The perception of better value, not just in monetary terms but in terms of ethical production, was only when directly contrasting with how natural diamonds used to be mined. Historically, natural diamond mining conditions were not well-regulated and known to be unethical. Although on the whole this is no longer the case, the narrative of Laboratory Grown diamonds as ethically better is proving hard to shift.

So here is what actually happens.   

Originally Laboratory Grown diamonds were produced as a material for industry, with smaller scale production. This meant their carbon footprint was smaller and considered ethical, again in direct comparison to the worse conditions of natural mining.  However, as Laboratory Grown diamonds became more desirable for aesthetical purposes, more companies honed in on the venture, opening more factories to meet production needs. These factories mostly run on fossil-fuel and their machines are reaching internal temperatures 20% of the surface of the sun. Taking into account the emissions these will be generating, they cannot be considered as “green” anymore. It is the responsibility of us as jewellers to change this original narrative.

In the jewellery industry, we are trying to improve the working conditions in terms of mining natural diamonds and the environmental impact it has on our planet. Luckily, reputable companies follow legal processes and procedures to ensure good quality treatment of our environment as well as their miners. Although these natural diamonds may offer a smaller carat for the cost, it is important to remember you are choosing something the earth has spent millions of years making. You invest not only in the gem, but its history and its journey, which now includes the irreplaceable miners.