Man-Made Diamonds vs. Real Diamonds: What to Know

February 10, 2020 - Jewelry & Luxury Items

Today’s lab-grown diamonds can be certified as “real” by the Gemological Institute of America.

Or, that their chemical structure and composition match those of mined diamonds?

When it comes to creating these precious stones, technological advances have evolved. Read on to learn more about the differences between these diamonds.

What is a Man-Made Diamond?

Man-made diamonds harness compressed carbon and heat to replicate the processes by which natural stones are born. The final product resembles a diamond to the degree that many jewelers have trouble differentiating them from mined ones. But while identification gets tricky, seasoned jewelers know what to look for.

According to Fortune, “The machines and processes used to make man-made diamonds have become more refined in recent years, finally able to simulate the extreme pressure and temperatures deep within the Earth’s core that created organic diamonds over billions of years.”

Another important distinction is how long it takes to create a man-made diamond vs. a real diamond. Lab diamonds take little more than a few weeks to produce.

Natural diamonds take millions of years to form. They do so about 100 miles below the earth’s surface enveloped in tremendous heat and pressure.

Man-Made Diamonds vs. Real Diamonds

Lab-grown diamonds differ from simulants in their chemical and physical characteristics. Simulants like Moissanite and CZs are easily distinguishable from natural diamonds on a chemical and physical level.

That’s why stimulants are so easy for a jeweler to spot. But, as already mentioned, the same does not hold true for lab diamonds.

The main difference between lab and real diamonds is the lab itself. Besides differing origins, lab diamonds form in a fraction of the time it takes real diamonds.

Things to Know About Man-Made Diamonds

Lab diamonds have different inclusions and flaws than mined diamonds. Since carbon measures 99.999 percent of their composition, some man-made diamonds even prove stronger, whiter, and brighter than natural diamonds. But a well-trained jewelry will know what to look for to make the distinction.

Some companies have created a process that uses “donor” material to form custom diamonds. Customers fill a box with carbon-based materials such as photos, fabric, locks of hair, baby teeth, or ashes.

These materials get cooked down to pure carbon. This carbon is utilized in the diamond-making process. Despite the benefits of man-made diamonds, it remains to be seen whether they’ll hold up in the eyes of consumers.

Laboratory Diamonds vs. Real Diamonds

Mining diamonds is a labor-intensive process that can strip fragile ecosystems. It has led to warfare and slavery in areas where the precious stones get mined. But will laboratory diamonds prove the more responsible way to go from an environmental and social viewpoint?

The verdict isn’t in yet. Certainly, lab diamonds are sustainable. But could they meet global demand?

Right now, the answer’s no. Man-made diamonds represent a drop in the bucket. By 2019, the demand for diamonds will have outpaced the natural supply.

Some fear that man-made diamonds could flood the market, but these worries remain unfounded. Millions of dollars of infrastructure would have to be built first and tens of millions of dollars invested in production costs. As it stands, laboratory diamonds represent a sliver of the total diamond market.

The Knowledge Edge

Interested in learning more about man-made diamonds vs. real diamonds? Not sure where to start your search for the perfect stone? Or, perhaps you have a piece of jewelry you need to have appraised?

At Pawn Guru, we’ve got the knowledge you need to gain a clear edge on the market. We’re GIA certified and have specialized equipment, which means we know jewelry. Contact us today and let us know how we can help.

David Stiebel

David Stiebel is one of the cofounders of PawnGuru. David was educated at MIT, where he studied Math. He subsequently worked at Bain as a data scientist before starting PawnGuru in 2015. He started PawnGuru to build a better tool for pawn shops and consumers to connect.

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