A diamond by definition is a mineral created by nature; a “diamond” always means a natural diamond. As often happens with extraordinary objects, imitators abound and can lead to consumer confusion. A synthetic diamond, by definition, is an artificial product that has essentially the same physical characteristics as a diamond. They are sometimes marketed today as “laboratory-grown”, “cultured”, “created”, “cultivated”, “synthetic”, “simulated”, or “man-made”, but it’s important to understand the difference between a diamond and these products because by definition, they are not diamonds.
Read more on the official definition of a diamond here, then see our easy to understand guide that helps consumers distinguish the key differences between a diamond and a synthetic, directly from some of the most respected voices in the fine jewelry business:
Founder & Editorial Director, The Adventurine
“What is a diamond? I have been giving the question a lot of thought lately with the abundance of lab grown diamonds hitting the market,” Fasel writes on The Adventurine. “A scientist will tell you a diamond is pure carbon. I believe it is much more.”
“While the [synthetic] rocks may have the appearance of natural mined diamonds, gemologists can tell if they are from the earth or not with the right equipment. There is also something soulful missing from the manmade shiny baked bits of carbon—historical significance, symbolism and, yes, love.”
Diamond Industry Expert
“The difference between a real diamond and a lab-grown diamond is simple”, Grant tells Cosmopolitan. “A real diamond is unique and rare, formed one hundred miles below earth’s surface up to 3 billion years ago. Real diamonds undergo extraordinary environmental circumstances, bursting towards the earth’s surface through volcanic eruptions. They are miracles of nature.
“A lab-grown diamond is a stone that mimics the optical and chemical properties of a natural diamond. They are not formed though natural occurrences, rather they are artificially mass-produced in a factory in a matter of weeks.”
“First, there is not a sufficient history of lab-grown diamonds to determine what consumers are willing to consistently pay for them”, he says.
“The second reason”, Grant says, “is that lab-grown diamond production will continue to get cheaper and cheaper as competition from factories in China grows, forcing producers to keep lowering their sales price for these stones.”
“We buy and wear diamonds because of what they represent”, he says. “The word ‘diamond’ itself comes from a Greek origin meaning ‘unbreakable.’ It is because of a diamond’s rarity, strength, and resilience that they have come to be the ultimate representation of love, commitment, and success. The ability to keep diamonds forever and pass them down from generation to generation is a truly unique gift.”
Diamond Industry Analyst
“As lab-diamond production continues to accelerate, it seems inevitable that the price spread between lab-created and natural diamonds across all sizes and qualities will continue to widen, especially in the case of generic lab-diamonds, those that are not supported by a manufacturer or retailer’s brand.
Medium-to-longer-term expect the dialog surrounding lab-created diamonds to shift from jewelry to application in high-tech developments such as processing chips, optics, laser devices, and thermal conductivity equipment. The unique properties of diamond make the application potential exciting and wide, and the scientific and tech community has just begun to scratch the surface of its potential.
The high-tech industry enthusiastically awaits economically available mass-produced high-quality diamond, the lab-diamond manufacturers know this and most are just using jewelry as a stepping stone.“
“Synthetics will dramatically lose their value over time. It’s not like synthetics are new. We can look at the history of synthetic rubies, emeralds, and sapphires. The have gone way down in price over time (due to increased production), and they hold very little value.”
Diamond Asset Advisors/GIA
“Natural diamonds are billion-year old precious gems which have inherent and symbolic value,” Gelb tells Forbes. “As undifferentiated industrial products, synthetic diamonds will never catch consumers’ imagination in the same way.”
Fashion & Jewelry Wardrobe Stylist
“No, synthetics are not worth the same [as diamonds]. Just as no one would pay the same price for a knock-off handbag or designer imposters perfume as they would for the genuine article.”