Natural Diamonds vs. Man-Made Diamonds: Exploring the Differences and Similarities

Friday, 21 April 2023
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Lab Grown Diamond

Lab-made diamonds, which are also called synthetic diamonds, are becoming more popular as an alternative to natural diamonds. In contrast to naturally occurring diamonds, which are formed over millions of years deep within the Earth’s surface, man-made diamonds are produced in a laboratory.

In this article, we will discuss the differences between lab-grown diamonds and natural diamonds, including the process of making artificial diamonds, the 4 C’s: pricing, appearance, wearability, and longevity.

How Are Natural Diamonds Formed?

Natural diamonds are formed deep within the Earth’s mantle, under extreme heat and pressure. They are created from carbon atoms that have been subjected to these conditions for millions of years, causing them to bond together in a unique crystal lattice structure.

Diamonds are then brought closer to the Earth’s surface by volcanic eruptions, where they can be mined and extracted. The process of diamond formation is extremely rare and takes millions of years, which is why natural diamonds are so valuable and sought after.

How Are Lab-Made Diamonds Created?

Artificial diamonds are made using two main methods: High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) and Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD).

Lab Grown DiamondHPHT diamonds are created by mimicking the conditions deep beneath the Earth’s surface, where natural diamonds are formed. In this process, a small diamond seed is placed in a chamber with carbon and other elements and then subjected to extreme heat and pressure. Over time, the carbon atoms attach to the diamond seed and form a larger, fully grown diamond.

CVD diamonds, on the other hand, are created by placing a small diamond seed in a chamber filled with a gas mixture, typically made up of methane and hydrogen. The gas is then heated, causing the carbon atoms to bond to the diamond seed and grow into a larger diamond.

How long it takes to create lab diamonds can vary depending on the method used and the desired size and quality of the diamond. However, in general, it can take anywhere from 6 to 10 weeks to create a lab-grown diamond.

This is, of course, significantly faster than the millions of years it takes for natural diamonds to form, and the creation of lab diamonds means that they can be produced in much larger quantities.

The HPHT method typically produces diamonds faster, while the CVD method may take a bit longer. Both methods of diamond growth require additional time for cutting, polishing, and grading, which prolongs the process overall.

The 4 C’s: Colour, Clarity, Cut, and Carat Weight

Just like natural diamonds, lab-grown diamonds are graded based on the 4 C’s: colour, clarity, cut, and carat weight.

Carat weight: This refers to the weight of the diamond and is often used as an indicator of size. One carat is equal to 0.2 grams.

Clarity: This refers to the presence or absence of internal and external blemishes or inclusions in the diamond. The fewer inclusions or blemishes, the higher the clarity grade, and the more valuable the diamond.

Colour: Diamond colour is an important characteristic used to evaluate the quality and value of a diamond. The colour grading scale ranges from D (colourless) to Z (light yellow or brown).

  • D-F: Colourless: These diamonds are the rarest and most valuable as they allow maximum light to pass through without any colour interference.
  • G-J: Near Colourless: These diamonds have a faint yellow or brown tint that is difficult to see with the naked eye, but they can be slightly less expensive than colourless diamonds.
  • K-M: Faint Yellow: These diamonds have a noticeable yellow tint, which can affect their brilliance and value.
  • N-Z: Very Light to Light Yellow—these diamonds have a more obvious yellow or brown hue and are considered lower quality.

Diamonds can also come in other colours, such as pink, blue, green, yellow, and brown, and these colours are graded on a separate scale. The intensity and tone of these colours are taken into consideration when grading.

It’s important to note that the colour grading is done under controlled lighting conditions by trained professionals using standardised methods, as even a slight variation in colour can significantly impact the value of a diamond.

Cut: This refers to the quality of the diamond’s cut and how well it reflects light. A well-cut diamond will have more sparkle and brilliance, while a poorly cut diamond may appear dull and lifeless.

Several different factors influence the quality of a diamond cut:

  • Proportions: The proportions of the diamond are one of the most important factors in determining the quality of the cut. The angles and dimensions of the facets should be precise and balanced to maximise the diamond’s brilliance and sparkle.
  • Symmetry: The symmetry of the diamond is also important for a good cut. The facets should be evenly sized and spaced, and the diamond should be centred and well-balanced.
  • Polish: The polish of the diamond refers to the smoothness of the surface and the absence of scratches, nicks, or other blemishes. A high-quality cut will have a smooth and polished surface with no visible blemishes.
  • Light performance: The way a diamond reflects and refracts light is another important factor in determining the quality of the cut. A well-cut diamond will have excellent light performance, with maximum brilliance, fire, and sparkle.

In general, a well-cut diamond will have maximum brightness, fire, and scintillation, making it appear more brilliant and valuable. When choosing a diamond, it’s important to consider all aspects of the cut, as it can significantly impact the overall beauty and value of the stone.

The 4 Cs are used together to determine a diamond’s overall quality and value. A diamond that is high in all four categories will be more valuable than a diamond that is lower in any of the four Cs. This is true whether you are considering purchasing a natural diamond or are searching for the perfect lab-made diamonds.

It is important to consider all four Cs when purchasing a diamond to ensure you are getting the best quality diamond for your money.

Pricing Difference

One of the biggest differences between lab-grown diamonds and natural diamonds is the price. Lab diamonds are typically less expensive than natural diamonds, as they are not as rare or valuable. However, the price of a lab-grown diamond can still vary based on the 4 C’s, with larger, higher-quality diamonds costing more.

Appearance and Wearability

In terms of appearance, lab diamonds are virtually identical to natural diamonds. They have the same sparkle, brilliance, and fire as natural diamonds and are virtually indistinguishable to the naked eye.

If you are one of the increasing number of gemstone lovers who are enchanted by coloured diamonds, then you’ll be pleased to learn you can buy coloured lab-made diamonds too.

Lab-created coloured diamonds can be just as visually appealing as natural-coloured diamonds. The process of creating lab-grown coloured diamonds involves the same methods used to grow colourless diamonds, but with the addition of trace elements or radiation to introduce colour.

This results in diamonds with vibrant and consistent colours that are often more affordable than naturally coloured diamonds.

One advantage of lab-grown coloured diamonds is that they can be produced in a variety of colours that may not be found in nature, such as bright pinks, blues, greens, and purples. They can also be produced in larger sizes and quantities than natural-coloured diamonds.


Lab-grown diamonds are just as durable as natural diamonds, with a lifespan of millions of years. They are resistant to scratches, chipping, and other forms of wear and tear and are an excellent choice for engagement rings and other jewellery that will be worn daily.

In conclusion, lab made diamonds are an excellent alternative to natural diamonds, with a lower price point and virtually identical appearance and durability. If you’re considering a man-made diamond, be sure to consider the 4 C’s and choose a reputable jeweller with a good track record for quality and customer service.

Author Bio

Jill Hansen runs Anastasia’s Of Broome and is a highly recognised expert in both the fields of South Sea Pearls and Diamonds. Jill trained in seeding pearls in the Cook Islands by Japanese Pearl Technicians, and established a wholesale pearl business selling pearls all over the world. She pioneered the combination of pearls and diamonds to create Lust™ Pearls, a unique fusion of these two beautiful gemstones. Jill holds the prestigious recognition of being an Antwerp Diamond Broker for selecting and sourcing Diamonds direct from the diamond capital of the world, Antwerp. She is a diamond expert and is happy to use and impart her knowledge to help customers make informed decisions.


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