If you’re shopping for a diamond, or considering shopping for one, you may have found ads and articles promoting lab-created diamonds as an alternative to a real diamond. Lab-grown diamonds are just that—man-made and mass-produced. Natural diamonds are as rare and uniquely personal as you, your relationships and your stories.
Since the purchase of diamond jewelry can be an emotional decision charged with pressure to make a wise financial investment, let’s get some facts and dispel the myths and misconceptions about the alternative, lab-created diamonds.
Synthetic diamonds & what does Leonardo Di Caprio have to do with this?
The 2006 movie, Blood Diamond, starring Leonardo Di Caprio cast concerns over whether it was socially responsible to buy real diamonds. The reality is that the diamond industry provides well-paying jobs in places where good employment is hard to find. Globally significant diamond producers in Canada, Africa, Siberia and Australia provide safe, high-quality jobs, financial benefits to local communities and a controlled environmental footprint.
Since diamonds were discovered in Botswana, the area has transformed from one of the poorest in the world to a thriving upper-middle income country. And the modern diamond industry protects three times more land than it uses. To learn more about the positive contributions of the diamond industry, see Diamonds Benefit Communities.
Don’t be fooled by salespeople touting manipulative phrases like, “or perhaps you’d like to see a ring that is more ethically and environmentally desirable than a real diamond?” Lab-created diamonds are far less environmentally friendly than natural diamonds. It takes a lot of energy and resources to manufacture a lab-created diamond, and this process leaves a huge carbon footprint. Moreover, most lab-made diamonds are manufactured in India or China, where there really isn’t much information about how much thought or care goes into preserving the environment or providing well for the workers.
Oh, and to ease your mind if you’ve seen Dicaprio’s movie, the fact is that now most natural diamonds, a full 99.8% of them, are certified conflict-free through the Kimberley Process.
Lab-created diamonds – what they are and what they aren’t
One thing synthetic diamonds aren’t – is new. They’ve been around since General Electric created them in a lab in 1954.
Another thing they aren’t is a good deal. They are man-made, and have none of the special, distinguishing characteristics found in real diamonds. They are a manufactured product which means as production increases, the cost and value decrease, making them, in a word, cheap.
Lab-created diamonds were once produced for $4,000 a carat; now they can be produced for just $300 a carat, and costs are falling. The retail gross margin of fabricated diamonds is twice that of natural diamonds. So, a salesperson stands to make more than twice the profit from selling a lab-created diamond compared to a real diamond with its modest profit margin.
Finally, they aren’t going to be purchased by any jeweler to be refashioned or repurposed into new jewelry. There is no second-hand market for lab-created diamonds. They have no resale value. They do not get recycled.
What they are is chemically similar to real diamonds. However, the differences are easily discernible with 100% accuracy.
Natural diamonds – what’s real
Real diamonds have a very interesting, long and personal history. They are formed 100 miles below the surface of the earth, which is where heat and pressure are great enough to make diamonds. Deep source volcanic pipes bring diamonds to the surface, and after all that, real diamonds are indestructible stones that will never become obsolete. In case you were curious, they can also form under the pressure and heat of an asteroid impact.
Just like a Picasso, a natural diamond has inherent value. That value will grow over time. A real diamond can be sold, recycled, repurposed, and it can play a role in one’s investment portfolio. A lab-created one can’t and doesn’t. It has value the way a TV has value; it will be worth a little less each day. Natural diamonds have unique qualities. They are a miracle of nature and are recognized as a symbol of a special moment.
What seems to be the better choice?
Real diamonds are bought for emotional and for investment purposes, and they are an investment that holds its value. These diamonds have a recycled market and can be refashioned into other pieces of jewelry or re-cut into other shapes. Just a few years ago, there were $1 billion worth of recycled diamonds being put back into the market, and the number has gone up each year since then. Recycled and “freshly mined” are no different, and it’s impossible to tell the difference. The market does not differentiate between them in price. Developments in technology have led to the ability to cut the prices of lab-created diamonds even further, reinforcing the cachet of real diamonds.
At Maxon, we want our very real, treasured relationships with you, our customers, our friends, to last a lifetime. So, please stop in today and let our GIA Certified Gemologists help you choose a real diamond. Real people. Real stories. Real diamonds.