Natural vs Lab Diamonds

What are the differences between Natural and Laboratory Grown Diamonds?

Natural Diamonds

A natural diamond is a diamond that was formed beneath the earth naturally over the course of millions of years. Over 95% of natural gem grade diamonds are what are considered Type Ia diamonds meaning that through natural processes the diamonds are formed with varying amounts of trace elements within the diamond such as nitrogen or boron. These elements cause the color differences that we see in natural diamonds such as tints of yellow, blue, and other colors. Natural diamonds can be found in any color in the spectrum from brown and yellow to the rarest blue, pink, and red diamonds. The rarest of natural diamonds are what are considered Type IIa diamonds which make up less than 5% of natural diamonds. Type IIa diamonds are almost completely devoid of trace elements making them extremely chemically pure.

Laboratory Grown Diamonds

A natural diamond is a diamond that was formed beneath the earth naturally over the course of millions of years. Over 95% of natural gem grade diamonds are what are considered Type Ia diamonds meaning that through natural processes the diamonds are formed with varying amounts of trace elements within the diamond such as nitrogen or boron. These elements cause the color differences that we see in natural diamonds such as tints of yellow, blue, and other colors. Natural diamonds can be found in any color in the spectrum from brown and yellow to the rarest blue, pink, and red diamonds. The rarest of natural diamonds are what are considered Type IIa diamonds which make up less than 5% of natural diamonds. Type IIa diamonds are almost completely devoid of trace elements making them extremely chemically pure.

CVD Laboratory Grown Diamonds

CVD laboratory grown diamonds are the same as natural diamonds in all physical, chemical, and optical properties. CVD diamonds are classified as Type IIa diamonds which are the most chemically pure diamonds in the world. Type IIa diamonds also can be found in nature but are quite rare. As it pertains to natural earth mined diamonds, less than 5% are type IIa. Therefore, in reference to quality, since CVD laboratory grown diamonds are all type IIa, they are among the highest quality diamonds available on the market, regardless of origin. There is no way to differentiate a natural diamond from a CVD laboratory grown diamond to the naked eye, even for a Graduate Gemologist. Additionally, a standard diamond tester will not be able to differentiate whether a diamond is CVD grown or Natural, both will test as natural diamond. To accurately determine that a CVD diamond is in fact CVD grown requires the use of very precise and expensive testing machinery.

HPHT Laboratory Grown Diamonds

The second way to grow gem grade laboratory grown diamonds is a process known as HPHT or High Pressure High Temperature. HPHT is the original way of growing laboratory grown diamonds, and the less expensive way of doing so. HPHT diamonds are considered Type II diamonds. Unlike CVD diamonds that are Type IIa diamonds, HPHT diamonds will not test as diamond with a standard diamond tester even though they are technically diamonds. This is due to the relatively high amount of impurities in the diamond crystal. Additionally, optically they often appear different than natural or CVD diamonds in that they may display what is called a blue nuance. As the name would imply, a blue nuance is a light blue color that often makes the diamond look milky or hazy. Due to their lower cost of production, as well as lower overall quality, HPHT grown diamonds are generally less expensive than CVD grown diamonds. If a jeweler doesn’t identify a lab grown diamond as being either CVD or HPHT, you can be relatively certain that it is HPHT.

Pricing

When comparing the price of laboratory grown diamonds to natural diamonds, you will see that there is a marked difference in price. On average on our website, laboratory grown diamonds are approximately 20-25% the cost of their natural diamond counterpart. On most other diamond websites, you will see less of a price differential, because competing jewelers mark up laboratory diamonds much more due to their lower cost in order to make more money. At Sarah Lee Jewelry we don’t do that to our customers, we do the same small percentage markup on all our diamonds whether they are natural, or laboratory grown. We do this to ensure our customers are getting the best price PERIOD.
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