When you think of a diamond, what words come to mind? Most would respond with captivating, rare, and precious. But in the last five years, the quality of lab-grown diamonds has increased, and a new trend has grown. Now when some think of a diamond, they may question the authenticity, value, and quality. While it’s true that a diamond can be a significant financial investment, it is also one of the most important purchases you will ever make.
Purchasing a diamond carries an emotional component. You may be celebrating an anniversary, graduation, or preparing for the big proposal. It’s a life moment that you remember forever, signifying your love, commitment, or new beginnings. So how do you know if your special moment warrants a lab-grown diamond or naturally mined diamond? What's the REAL difference, and which stone is right for you?
For some, it's merely a matter of the symbol a diamond represents. Others are driven by price, while authenticity may top the list of importance for you. Then there is the stigma associated with the natural process of mining diamonds. No matter where you fall, there have been significantly notable changes made in the diamond industry over the years. There are many benefits that go along with investing in a natural diamond, and we'd like to help educate you on them.
The History of a Diamond
Just like the story behind your future diamond purchase, there is a unique story behind the creation of each stone. Natural mined diamonds are often seen as precious miracles from nature because of the incredible way they have come to be. Older than life on earth, diamonds are estimated to be anywhere from one billion to three billion years old. Natural diamonds take years to form and require extreme temperatures, and incredibly intense pressure. This all takes place one hundred or more miles below the earth’s surface. Approximately three hundred to four hundred million years ago, the eruption of volcanos caused a small amount of these diamonds to come to the surface. These incredible conditions all coming together to create such beauty certainly warrants natural mined diamonds to be considered unique, rare, and even priceless.
It wasn’t until millions of years later that we first discovered these magnificent stones. Early on, natural diamonds were found in ancient Indian caves. They were even considered magical and able to hold powers. Their uniqueness led them to be handed over to queens and kings as a symbol of high power and royalty throughout China and Europe.
Deeper Look into the Making of a Naturally Mined Diamond
Mined diamonds are formed over millions of years, created by geological pressure and extreme temperature deep in the earth. Volcanic activity later brought them to the surface, where they lay in the volcanic rock known as kimberlite pipes. They were extracted years later through an intense labor process from mines deep within the earth. Natural diamonds receive much of their value from their uniqueness and rarity, being a precious billion-year-old gem. Diamond recovery has continued to decrease over the years, making diamonds even more rare and valuable.
The Making of a Lab-Grown Diamond
The process of creating a lab-grown diamond is rather quick and can be made in as little as under a month. One approach to creating a diamond is by applying high temperature and high pressure to simulate the force of the earth. This dissolves the carbon into a diamond seed and is known as High-Pressure High Temperature (HPHT). The second approach, Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD), is similar to working with a 3D printer. While inside a vacuum chamber, pieces of carbon are layered on top of a diamond seed. Both processes produce a diamond that appears identical to a natural diamond when examined by the naked eye. Advances made over the last several years have produced lab-grown diamonds that only experts can distinguish between. Each of these methods tends to leave identifying growth marks and other signs that give away their secret. Additionally, lab-created diamonds tend to need color treatment to rid themselves of discoloration or slight distortions.
But a lab-grown diamond shouldn’t be confused with a synthetic diamond. Lab-grown diamonds are made up of virtually the same chemical and physical properties, yet their crystal patterns are not the same. This allows them to seem identical, yet be significantly less expensive, which appeals to the wallets of buyers.
So, is this deceiving or great news for your bank account?
The Value of Diamonds
There is much to be said for the value a mined diamond holds. You just can’t say the same for a lab-grown diamond. Consider the purchase of a diamond to be similar to the purchase of a new car. We are constantly reminded that your new purchase depreciates by fifty percent the moment it’s driven off the lot. Similarly, when you’re ready to upgrade your diamond, a mined diamond will still hold quite a bit of its resale value, while a lab-grown diamond will not. For that very reason, your investment in a natural diamond is the smarter path to take.
The Decline of the Lab-Grown Diamond
The production costs of lab-grown diamonds have declined almost ninety percent throughout the last ten years. A study done in 2018 estimated the production cost of a lab-grown diamond to be approximately $300-$500 for just one carat. This information was based on a G color VS polished quality lab-grown diamond. The production prices have continued to decline at a steady pace, and costs continue to decrease with no sign of stopping.
The Effects of Wholesale Pricing
The wholesale prices of diamonds grown in labs have dropped substantially over the last two years. The decrease in production costs causes lab-grown diamond prices to wholesale around twenty percent of a comparable natural mined diamond. Just a few years ago, wholesale prices were approximately seventy percent of a natural diamond’s price.
The Effects of Size on Price
The difference in price between a naturally mined diamond and a lab-grown diamond increases as the size of diamond increases. A natural mined diamond’s price is determined by how unique, rare, and brilliant it is. Naturally, since a large carat weight diamond is much rarer than small carat weight diamonds, their value is much higher. Pricing of lab-grown diamonds works much differently. Production costs per carat weight will decline as the size of the lab-created diamond grows. This is due to the additional time that is required for it to be in a reactor chamber.
Keeping an Eye on Change
Total Clarity, who is sponsored by the Natural Diamond Council, or NDC, studies the benefits and impacts of diamond mining today. The NDC was formed in May of 2015 and is an international alliance of seven of the world’s leading diamond mining companies. NDC members make up roughly seventy-five percent of the world’s total diamond production. The NDC's mission is to protect and promote the integrity and reputation of diamonds, and the entire diamond industry. They work hard to highlight the benefits and impacts these companies make to help:
The information they gather helps make changes in energy conservation, steps taken to create a way to reduce CO2 emissions, and programs that will help maintain and improve worker safety.
Working Towards Common Goals
Today’s diamond mining practices promote:
- Worker safety
- Additional job creation
- Fair employment practices and opportunities
- Extensive training and development
- Sourcing local service and goods
- Developing communities in the form of
- Repairing and building new roads
- Building schools
- Building hospitals
- Partnering with local governments to ensure change
Boosting the Local Economy
Supporting ethically mined diamonds is providing direct support for workers, their families, and their communities. Most of the diamond mining workers live in the very communities they work in. This helps create many jobs for the locals and can significantly stimulate their economy.
The New World of Diamond Mining
The Ethical Choice
Mined diamonds, unfortunately, still carry the stigma of being “conflict diamonds.” Much has changed over the years, though. Since that time, the industry has put many strict controls in place, including the Kimberley Process. The Kimberly Process ensures that diamonds from conflict zones cannot be traded. This change accounts for 99.8% of diamonds being Kimberley-compliant. All major diamond producers ensure their diamonds are now produced responsibly.
A Worldwide Contribution
The diamond industry has cleaned up its act and made many significant changes to make an essential contribution to the world. Ten million people globally are now supported by the diamond mining industry, including 1.5 million artisanal and small-scale miners and their families in Africa and South America who supply fifteen percent of the world’s diamonds. Their livelihoods literally depend on the demand for natural mined diamonds. Around the world, incredible contributions include
- Diamonds mined in Botswana have grown their country from one of the poorest in the world to a middle-income country. The diamond industry’s revenues have provided children with free education through the age of twelve and make up almost one-third of their GDP.
- In Gujarat, the diamond mining provides jobs for roughly one million people and has helped fund many of their schools and hospitals.
- Almost ten percent of the energy used to power the Diavik diamond mine in Canada even comes from wind farms.
Ensuring the Changes of Diamond Mining
Realistically, diamond mining does not require chemicals to remove the diamonds from the earth, so it leaves a very minimal environmental footprint. Mining companies are monitored by governments and local communities, while many are working towards becoming carbon-neutral. The mining of diamonds has put many strict ecological protection rules into place. Over eighty-five percent of the diamonds mined today are mined by large companies who have pledged to protect the environment and work closely with their local governments and communities to do so. Each mine is carefully monitored for its impact on the environment and ensures they follow strict environmental regulations.
More Reasons to Choose Naturally Mined Diamonds
- Lab-grown diamonds can be mass-produced in factories and are often not created in the US. The problem? Costs to produce lab diamonds can continue to rise, while the integrity of the diamond is typically not verified or disclosed. Your eco-friendly diamond may not be what it claims to be.
- A recent poll showed that 68% of US diamond consumers did not believe a lab-grown diamond was a “real diamond.” More notably, some surveys showed that when a consumer learned of the lack of value it held, they were no longer interested in considering a lab stone for such a significant purchase.
- The estimated carbon emissions of a lab-grown diamond are three times the amount of a naturally mined diamond. Lab-grown diamonds require a substantial amount of chemicals and energy, as well as relying primarily on fossil fuels for their creation.
- Mining diamonds has become a clean process by supporting the use of recycled water. The method relies mainly on intense pressure and recycled water to separate the diamonds from the rock, instead of using damaging chemicals. Diamond mining rarely requires the use of these chemicals, if at all. In fact, eighty-three percent of the water that is used in the process of modern diamond mining is now recycled.
- Today’s methods of diamond mining use drastically less energy while releasing fewer carbon emissions than what is released during the production of lab-grown diamonds. Incredible statistics per carat show:
- The modern mining of diamonds uses thirty-seven percent less energy
- It discharges three times less carbon than producing a lab-grown diamond will release
To many, Fink’s Jewelers is as rare and unique as a natural diamond itself. A family-owned, family-run company since 1930, we pride ourselves on our expertise and commitment to excellence. Whether you’re searching for the perfect engagement ring, a stunning diamond pendant, or a diamond-accented watch, Fink’s offers selections from the world’s most sought-after jewelry designers. Allow us to guide you through your search for the perfect natural diamond for any special occasion. Visit us today for an experience you’ll remember forever.