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Lab-grown diamonds vs mined diamonds: How are they created?

Lab-grown diamonds vs mined diamonds: How are they created?

Diamonds, among the world's most exquisite gems, serve various purposes, from adorning jewelry to aiding in industrial and scientific endeavors. They embody love, commitment, and status, but have you ever pondered their origin and creation process?

Many believe diamonds originate from the earth, formed eons ago amidst intense heat and pressure. However, an alternative method exists – lab-grown diamonds. Contrary to popular belief, these gems are not artificial; they possess identical physical, chemical, and optical attributes as their mined counterparts. The differentiating factor lies in their creation: lab-grown diamonds are meticulously crafted in laboratories using cutting-edge technology.

In this discourse, we delve into the essence of lab-grown diamonds, elucidating their creation process, juxtaposing them with mined diamonds, and exploring their burgeoning popularity among consumers and retailers. We shall also address common inquiries surrounding lab-grown diamonds, such as:

  • Are lab-grown diamonds authentic?
  • How do they compare to mined diamonds?
  • Is there a noticeable disparity between the two?
  • How are lab-grown diamonds authenticated and graded?
  • What advantages do they offer?

Should you harbor an interest in unraveling the mysteries of lab-grown diamonds, continue reading to unearth the answers to these inquiries and more.

Key Takeaways

  1. Lab-grown diamonds are Real Diamonds that are made in a laboratory using advanced technology.
  2. Lab-grown diamonds have the same physical, chemical, and optical properties as mined diamonds, but they are more ethical, sustainable, and affordable.
  3. Lab-grown diamonds can be made by two methods: High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) or Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD).
  4. Lab-grown diamonds and mined diamonds are indistinguishable to the naked eye, but they can be identified by specialized equipment and certification.
  5. Lab-grown diamonds are growing in popularity among consumers and retailers, as they offer a better value and a lower environmental impact than mined diamonds.

What are lab-grown diamonds?

Lab-grown diamonds, also known as man-made diamonds or cultured diamonds, are authentic diamonds produced in a laboratory through advanced technology. The term "synthetic" can be misleading, as it suggests that lab-grown diamonds are artificial or fake; however, they are indistinguishable from mined diamonds in all aspects except their origin.

To create lab-grown diamonds, scientists replicate the natural diamond formation process by subjecting carbon atoms to high temperature and high pressure. By carefully controlling these factors along with the duration of exposure, diamonds of varying shapes, sizes, colors, and qualities can be produced.

There are two primary methods for creating lab-grown diamonds: High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) and Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD). We will delve into the workings of these methods in the following section.

How are lab-grown diamonds created?

Lab-grown diamonds are created by two main methods: High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) and Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD). Both methods involve exposing carbon atoms to high temperature and high pressure, but they differ in the way they do it.

How are HPHT diamonds made?

When you hear the term HPHT, it stands for High Pressure High Temperature, which happens to be the oldest and most widely used method for producing lab-grown diamonds. HPHT essentially replicates the natural process of diamond formation deep within the earth's crust, where carbon atoms endure intense heat and pressure.

The process of creating HPHT diamonds involves placing a small piece of natural diamond, known as a seed, within a metal capsule filled with carbon-rich material like graphite. This capsule is then inserted into a large press, where it undergoes extremely high pressure (up to 6 GPa) and high temperature (up to 1500°C). Under these conditions, the carbon atoms in the graphite liquefy and reassemble themselves into a diamond crystal around the seed. Depending on the size and quality of the desired diamond, this process can range from a few minutes to several hours.

One notable aspect of HPHT diamonds is their versatility in terms of shape and color. These diamonds can be crafted into various shapes including cubic, octahedral, or hexagonal. Moreover, they can exhibit a range of colors such as yellow, brown, blue, or pink, contingent upon the type and quantity of impurities present in the capsule. For instance, introducing nitrogen can yield yellow or brown diamonds, while boron can produce blue diamonds.

How are CVD diamonds made?

You might have heard of CVD, which stands for Chemical Vapor Deposition. It's a modern technique used to produce lab-grown diamonds. Unlike traditional methods, CVD doesn't rely on high pressure; instead, it utilizes high temperature to craft diamonds.

Here's how it works: A small piece of natural diamond, known as a seed, is placed in a vacuum chamber filled with a gas mixture, typically methane and hydrogen. This mixture is then heated using a microwave or laser, breaking down the gas molecules into smaller atoms like carbon and hydrogen. These carbon atoms gradually accumulate on the seed, forming a thin layer of diamond. This process is repeated until the diamond reaches the desired thickness and size.

One of the fascinating aspects of CVD diamonds is their versatility. They can be produced in various shapes, including round, square, or rectangular, and can exhibit different colors like colorless, yellow, brown, or pink. The color variations depend on the type and concentration of impurities present in the gas mixture. For instance, introducing nitrogen can result in yellow or brown diamonds, while boron can yield pink diamonds.

Comparison of natural, HPHT, and CVD diamond-making process

The following table summarizes the main differences between the natural, HPHT, and CVD diamond-making process:










Up to 5 GPa

Up to 1300°C

Billions of years

Octahedral or cubic

Colorless or colored



Up to 6 GPa

Up to 1500°C

Minutes to hours

Cubic, octahedral, or hexagonal

Yellow, brown, blue, or pink




Up to 1200°C

Hours to days

Round, square, or rectangular

Colorless, yellow, brown, or pink

How do lab-grown diamonds compare to mined diamonds?

Lab-grown diamonds and mined diamonds share indistinguishable characteristics, differing solely in their origin. Both types exhibit identical physical, chemical, and optical properties. Here's what you need to know:

  • Hardness: Diamonds, rated 10 on the Mohs scale, are the hardest substance on Earth, impervious to scratching except by another diamond.
  • Density: With a density of 3.52 g/cm3, diamonds surpass water's weight, causing them to sink.
  • Refractive Index: Diamonds boast a high refractive index of 2.42, resulting in heightened light refraction. Consequently, they exhibit a brilliant sparkle compared to other gems.
  • Dispersion: Diamonds possess a dispersion of 0.044, causing them to refract light into various colors, creating a stunning rainbow effect, or "fire."
  • Luster: Diamonds exhibit exceptional luster, reflecting light brilliantly under any illumination.
  • Cleavage: Diamonds feature perfect cleavage, allowing them to be cut into diverse shapes and facets.

However, lab-grown diamonds offer distinct advantages over mined ones:

  • Ethics: Lab-grown diamonds are ethically sourced, devoid of human or environmental exploitation, unlike mined diamonds, which may be linked to conflicts, child labor, and human rights abuses.
  • Sustainability: Environmentally friendly, lab-grown diamonds circumvent mining-related issues like land degradation, water pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions, whereas mined diamonds contribute to environmental harm, including soil erosion, deforestation, and habitat loss.
  • Affordability: Lab-grown diamonds prove more cost-effective, free from expenses associated with mining, transportation, and marketing. Mined diamonds often incur higher costs due to involvement from various intermediaries in the supply chain.

Can you tell the difference between lab-grown and mined diamonds?

When it comes to distinguishing between lab-grown diamonds and mined diamonds, the naked eye won't be of much help. These two types of diamonds share identical appearances, brilliance, and fire, making it challenging even for experts and jewelers to tell them apart. This is because they possess matching physical, chemical, and optical properties.

However, specialized equipment and certification can help in identifying whether a diamond is lab-grown or mined. Here are some methods used for differentiation:

  • Magnification: When examined under a microscope or a loupe, lab-grown diamonds may exhibit certain distinctive features like metallic inclusions, growth lines, or color zoning. In contrast, mined diamonds may display natural features such as mineral inclusions, crystal defects, or irregular shapes.

  • Spectroscopy: By utilizing a spectroscope, lab-grown diamonds may reveal characteristic absorption lines or peaks, which vary based on the production method and impurities involved. Conversely, mined diamonds may exhibit different absorption lines or peaks depending on their origin and the types of impurities present.

  • Fluorescence: When subjected to UV light, lab-grown diamonds may emit varying fluorescence colors or intensities, influenced by the production method and impurity type. Similarly, mined diamonds may display diverse fluorescence colors or intensities, dependent on their origin and impurity composition.

  • Certification: Both lab-grown and mined diamonds undergo certification and grading by independent laboratories such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the International Gemological Institute (IGI), or the American Gem Society (AGS). Lab-grown diamonds are explicitly identified as such on the certificate, detailing the production method and quality parameters. Likewise, mined diamonds are labeled with their origin and quality specifications.

How are lab-grown diamonds certified and graded?

When it comes to evaluating diamonds, whether lab-grown or mined, independent laboratories like the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the International Gemological Institute (IGI), or the American Gem Society (AGS) play a crucial role. They follow standardized criteria to assess both types of diamonds based on what's known as the 4Cs:

This refers to the weight of the diamond, measured in carats. One carat equals 0.2 grams or 200 milligrams. Diamonds, regardless of their origin, are weighed using a calibrated scale, and the weight is documented on the certificate.

This indicates the hue of the diamond, ranging from colorless to shades of yellow, brown, or gray. Both lab-grown and mined diamonds undergo grading on a color scale from D (colorless) to Z (light yellow or brown). Additionally, diamonds can be found in fancy colors like pink, blue, or green, which are graded using a separate scale based on their hue, tone, and saturation.
This measures the presence of inclusions or blemishes within the diamond, which can impact its transparency and brilliance. Graded on a clarity scale from FL (flawless) to I3 (included), both lab-grown and mined diamonds are examined under 10x magnification. The certificate records details such as the number, size, position, and nature of these inclusions or blemishes.


Referring to the shape, proportions, and polish of the diamond, the cut determines how well it reflects and refracts light. Graded on a scale from Excellent to Poor, both lab-grown and mined diamonds undergo measurement and analysis using optical devices. Details such as symmetry, polish, and facet angles are documented on the certificate.

What are the benefits of lab-grown diamonds?

Lab-grown diamonds have many benefits over mined diamonds, such as:

  • Ethics: When it comes to ethics, lab-grown diamonds take the lead. These diamonds are ethically sourced, meaning they bypass any human or environmental exploitation. In contrast, mined diamonds often come with a dark backstory, potentially linked to conflict, violence, child labor, and human rights violations, also known as blood diamonds.
  • Sustainability: Lab-grown diamonds shine in sustainability. They are environmentally friendly since they don't require any mining, which can lead to land degradation, water pollution, or greenhouse gas emissions. On the flip side, mined diamonds may leave a significant environmental footprint, contributing to issues like soil erosion, deforestation, habitat loss, and climate change.
  • Affordability: Lab-grown diamonds offer a more pocket-friendly option. With no mining, transportation, or marketing costs, they come with a lower price tag. In contrast, mined diamonds often carry a hefty markup due to the involvement of various intermediaries like miners, traders, cutters, polishers, wholesalers, and retailers.
  • Innovation: Innovation is where lab-grown diamonds truly sparkle. These diamonds can be customized and personalized to match consumers' preferences and needs. Available in various shapes, sizes, colors, and qualities, they can even be engraved with messages, names, or symbols. Mined diamonds, however, are limited by the availability and quality of natural resources.

Statistics of use of lab-grown diamonds worldwide

Lab-grown diamonds are becoming increasingly popular among both consumers and retailers. They offer a better value proposition and have a lower environmental impact compared to mined diamonds. A report by Bain & Company indicates that the global market for lab-grown diamonds reached $1.9 billion in 2020, with expectations of a robust compound annual growth rate (CAGR) ranging between 15% to 20% until 2030. The rising demand for lab-grown diamonds can be attributed to three key factors:

  • Increased Awareness and Acceptance: More people are becoming aware of and accepting lab-grown diamonds as a viable alternative to traditional mined diamonds.
  • Improved Quality and Availability: Lab-grown diamonds are experiencing advancements in quality and are becoming more readily available in the market.
  • Preference for Ethical and Sustainable Products: Consumers are increasingly prioritizing ethical and sustainable products, driving the preference for lab-grown diamonds.

The following table shows the estimated production and consumption of lab-grown diamonds by region in 2020:


Production (million carats)

Consumption (million carats)




North America






Rest of the world






The table shows that Asia-Pacific is the largest producer and consumer of lab-grown diamonds, followed by North America and Europe. The rest of the world accounts for a smaller share of the market, but it may grow in the future as more countries adopt lab-grown diamonds.


Lab-grown diamonds, created within laboratories through advanced technology, possess identical physical, chemical, and optical attributes as mined diamonds. However, they boast heightened ethical standards, sustainability, and affordability. These diamonds are manufactured through two primary methods: High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) or Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD).

While visually indistinguishable from mined diamonds to the naked eye, specialized equipment and certification can discern between them. Independent laboratories, such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the International Gemological Institute (IGI), or the American Gem Society (AGS), certify and grade lab-grown diamonds based on the 4Cs: carat, color, clarity, and cut.

The advantages of lab-grown diamonds span various aspects, including ethical considerations, sustainability efforts, cost-effectiveness, and innovative manufacturing processes. As a result, they are gaining traction among consumers and retailers alike, offering superior value and reduced environmental impact compared to mined diamonds.

The global market for lab-grown diamonds reached an estimated value of $1.9 billion in 2020, with projections indicating a robust compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15% to 20% through 2030.


Q.1. What are lab-grown diamonds?
Lab-grown diamonds are synthesized in controlled lab environments using advanced technology, as opposed to being naturally formed underground.

Q.2. How are lab-grown diamonds created?
They're made through High Pressure-High Temperature (HPHT) or Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) methods, replicating natural diamond formation in a lab setting.

Q.3. What are mined diamonds?
Mined diamonds are naturally occurring gems formed deep within the earth's mantle over millions of years.

Q.4. How are mined diamonds formed?
They result from carbon atoms subjected to intense heat and pressure deep underground, eventually brought to the surface through volcanic eruptions.

Q.5. How do lab-grown and mined diamonds compare in terms of availability?
The continuous production of lab-grown diamonds meets market demand sustainably, offering a reliable alternative to mined diamonds amidst increasing ethical and environmental concerns.

Q.6. Are lab-grown diamonds subject to the same grading standards as mined diamonds?
Lab-grown and mined diamonds are graded using the same criteria, including the 4Cs, by institutes like GIA and IGI for consistent assessment.

Q.7. Are lab-grown diamonds a sustainable choice for environmentally-conscious consumers?
Lab-grown diamonds are a sustainable option for eco-conscious consumers. They use fewer resources and energy compared to mined diamonds, offering an eco-friendly choice in the jewelry sector.

Q.8. How do lab-grown and mined diamonds compare in terms of price?
Lab-grown diamonds are priced lower due to production costs and market perception, but factors like quality and size still impact price. Consumers have options to fit their preferences and budget when choosing between lab-grown and mined diamonds.