Harpers Bazaar: The difference between real diamonds and lab grown diamonds

Richard Garard puts forth his views about an article published by Harper's Bazaar

Lab grown diamond versus mined diamond - confusing? Yes indeed! But a diamond is a diamond and lab-grown diamonds are 'authentic' diamond, period.

They have identical properties to the ones mined via extensive earth movement. Promotional articles like this one appear to be just another attempt to continue the confusion at the detriment to the consumer.

Writer Katie Stow writes in Harpers Bazaar

A laboratory-grown stone merely shares the same chemical properties of a real diamond but holds none of the equivalent value and certainly none of the meaning.

Lab-grown diamonds are formed by the "natural growth process" of carbon atoms growing on carbon atoms in a single crystal lattice. Each lab grown diamond starts with a diamond seed and, under the properly controlled conditions, "naturally grows." Large, high quality (type IIa) diamonds grown below the earth surface and mined from the earth are very rare, and they certainly have value. However, most mined diamonds are small and certainly not type IIa and are low in value. Lab grown diamonds are grown with high technology, and costly equipment, and under difficult process conditions that takes years to perfect. So the ability to produce large, high quality (type IIa) diamonds in the lab is indeed also very rare.

Independent of the claims from those who want to confuse the consumer, production of such lab grown diamond is not cheap.

In fact, Morgan Stanley reports that the cost to start a lab grown diamond facility is nearly equivalent to opening a new diamond mine. Plus, lab-grown diamond production requires the perfection of the process which can take years and much more cost to develop.

As to lasting value, most jewelers do offer a buyback or trade in program for earth grown diamonds, but this is also true of many lab-grown diamond retailers. So there is no real difference in residual value from that vantage point. As stated in this article, the real value of a diamond is the passing of such a gem from generation to generation. This can be said about both good quality earth grown mined and good quality lab grown diamonds.

Diamonds are not purchased with the thought to resell, but to cherish. And consumers now have the choice to either cherish a stone that is grown underground and dug out of tons of earth by low paid workers, versus a diamond that is grown above grown in an environmentally friendly laboratory.

That is not confusing. That is the truth.

Richard Garard

IGDA, Secretary-General