Lab Diamonds vs Real Diamonds

In the debate of lab diamonds vs real diamonds, it is important to establish some truths. Firstly lab diamonds are real diamonds - the only difference is they’ve been created in human-made conditions, rather than under the Earth’s mantle over billions of years. So, how do lab diamonds differ from natural diamonds? Our experts have the low down.


Are lab created diamonds real diamonds?

Yes, lab grown diamonds are 100% real diamonds, with the same properties that natural diamonds have. Lab diamonds have no physical differences from natural diamonds, and it is impossible to tell them apart without specialist laboratory equipment. There are only two differences between lab diamonds and natural diamonds: price, and ethicality.

Lab diamonds have soared in popularity. First developed some 70 years ago, it wasn’t until recent leaps forward in the efficiency of their production that ensured top quality diamonds, that lab diamonds entered the jewellery market.

For most people, the choice of a lab diamond is obvious: they’re cheaper, guaranteed to be ethical, with more sustainable origins. Yet others remain sceptical as little is known about their future value, and whether something made in a lab is as romantic as nature’s produce.

So, the debate is less about lab diamonds vs real diamonds - because both mined and human made diamonds are authentic diamonds. Price and ethicality vs romance - which has your vote?

What’s the difference between a lab grown diamond vs natural diamonds?

There are no physical differences when we compare Earth created diamonds vs lab diamonds once they're cut - but there are differences in their price and origins. Natural diamonds take billions of years to form within the Earth’s mantle - intense heat and pressure cause carbon to crystallise into a lustrous gem. This process is mimicked in a laboratory to create lab diamonds, through CVD and HPHT - processes that harness intense pressure, heat and carbon-rich gas to create diamonds in just weeks.

Do lab grown diamonds test as real diamonds?

Yes, lab diamonds test as real diamonds, because they are authentic and identical to those found in nature, with the exact same chemical makeup. However, specialist laboratory equipment can tell lab diamonds from natural diamonds.

CVD diamonds, HPHT diamonds and natural diamonds look different in their rough state (see the below image, CVD left, HPHT centre, natural right). Once cut, only specialist equipment can be used to tell lab vs natural diamonds apart - which looks for nitrogen within the stone. Lab diamonds contain no nitrogen, whereas natural diamonds pick up tiny amounts of trace elements as they form.

The efficiency of lab diamond production means they can cost between 60% to 80% less than natural diamonds, which have taken billions of years to form, and costly endeavours to mine. Far less land is used in lab diamond creation than in mining, and choosing a lab diamond diminishes the possibility of choosing a blood diamond - incredibly unlikely, but possible.

Lab diamonds vs diamond simulants


Lab diamonds are not diamond simulant. Diamond simulants are essentially gems engineered to mimic diamonds, without actually being diamonds - whereas a lab diamond is an authentic diamond. Diamond simulants include stones like moissanites and cubic zirconia.

Diamond simulants have entirely different chemical makeup to diamonds - whereas lab diamonds and natural diamonds share the exact same chemical makeup, because they are both authentically diamonds. Diamond simulants can actually look very different to diamonds - the biggest telltale sign will be the stone’s sparkle, which won’t be as bright, crisp, colourless and lustrous as a diamond.

Lab grown diamonds vs cubic zirconia

Cubic zirconia, or ‘CZ’, is created in a lab - but it is not the same as a lab diamond. CZ is a gem in its own right, and contains many different properties to diamonds. CZ is a very inexpensive stone, often colourless and flawless - but it scratches much more easily and produces a somewhat lacklustre sparkle. The sparkle of a CZ vs lab diamond is far less intense, and emits flashes of rainbow-like colour that look particularly artificial. Even if colourless when created, a CZ can yellow over time.


Are lab created diamonds sustainable?

Lab diamond creation requires a lot of energy - but this is something lab diamond creators are constantly working on, shortening the length of time and amount of resources needed to create each diamond. It had been suggested a lab diamond requires 250 kWh to be produced - but already some producers are claiming to use as little as 20 kWh to create a diamond.

In terms of land use, a lab diamond is far more sustainable than a mined diamond. Diamond mining requires vast expanses of land to be explored, whereas a diamond laboratory can be relatively compact, and does not require any form of excavation or mining.

More and more lab diamonds on the market are being produced with renewable energy. Lab diamond producers are increasingly creating lab diamonds with solar power, or investing in ways to offset their carbon emissions. It is predicted that the demand for carbon neutral diamonds will drive many diamond laboratories to reassess the ways they create their diamonds and strive for more eco-friendly production.

Overall, lab diamonds are regarded as far more sustainable than mined diamonds. The extent of their sustainability is predicted to increase as technologies are perfected, to become more efficient and less consumptive.

Should I choose a lab grown or natural diamond ring?

Whether you opt for a lab or natural diamond is a deeply personal choice - and we’re not here to sway you either way. So, here are facts, to help you make a decision - and if that's not enough, why not meet with one of our experts to view natural vs lab diamonds in person?

  • Lab diamond and natural diamonds can be found with the exact same, top quality cut, colour and clarity grades
  • Lab diamonds are 100% authentic diamond - identical to those found in nature
  • Lab diamonds retail between 60% and 80% less than natural diamonds
  • You’ll achieve a considerably higher carat weight with a lab diamond vs natural diamond, for the same budget
  • The future value of lab diamonds is uncertain, whereas natural diamonds more or less retain value over time
  • Lab diamonds require far less land use than natural diamonds
  • It takes a lot of energy to create a lab diamond, but technology is developing to reduce this, and many lab diamonds are created sustainably with solar power
  • Lab diamonds are created in a matter of weeks vs the billions of years natural diamonds take to form
  • It’s impossible to tell and lab and mined diamond apart, without specialist equipment
  • A lab diamond is not a fake diamond, or a diamond simulant - it is an authentic diamond
  • Natural diamonds are not unethical unless you buy a blood diamond - which thanks to the UN’s Kimberley Process is near impossible
  • Most natural diamond mines are ethically-run and can be a vital source of income for developing, mining-dependent communities. Meanwhile, most diamond labs are based in already-developed countries