“Diamonds are forever,” and “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” are old sayings that sprung from one of the world’s most popular gemstones: the diamond.
But since the 1970s, a new competitor is threatening the natural diamond’s place on the gemstone pecking order: the grown diamond.
Scientists have been growing diamonds in lab settings since the 1950s for industrial uses, but by the 70s and 80s, these man-made jewels have increased in quality so much so that even expert gemologists cannot tell the difference between diamonds created by humans and those mined by humans.
To grow diamonds, manufacturers use one of two approaches: 1) they simulate the crush of the earth by applying high temperatures and pressure to carbon, creating a diamond seed. 2) They use a 3D printing-like approach, layering carbon inside a vacuum chamber.
Manufactured diamonds are usually 30% less expensive than naturally mind diamonds, and are more environmentally friendly than mined diamonds. Mined diamonds can create serious environmental damage, including leaching chemicals into water sources and destroying the habitats of threatened animal species. With laboratory-produced diamonds, however, there is no air or water pollution, nor are substantial hazardous chemicals used during the process.
Of course, diamond companies claim that grown diamonds are inauthentic, and although grown diamonds are cheaper than their natural counterparts, there are drawbacks of purchasing a grown diamond as opposed to a natural diamond. For one, grown diamonds are still far more expensive than other proven created ones, like cubic zirconia. For another, buyers may not be able to resell manufactured diamonds, as there currently is no secondary market for them.
Still, manufactured diamonds are nearly indistinguishable from, and cheaper than, naturally mined diamonds. And for some, that is good enough.
So can manufactured diamonds fulfill consumers’ jewelry needs as well as mined diamonds? Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide.