Lab Grown vs Earth-Mined Diamonds – what’s the real deal?

Unless you have been living under a rock these past few years, it’s impossible not to notice the growing trend of lab grown diamonds seemingly taking over the jewelry industry.

How can people resist?  The same carbon makeup of an actual diamond, the wonderful shine we all love and at a significantly lower cost; it seems like a ‘flawless’ solution – literally!

Apparently, the “scientific” difference between a lab grown and earth-mined diamond can only be detected by a professional under a microscope; but isn’t a diamond so much more than a pretty “colorless crystalline form of pure carbon”?

Just like snowflakes – and people – not one (earth-mined) diamond looks exactly like the other.  Each earth-mined diamond tells a story through its “flaws”.  While we, the consumer, seek out diamonds with as few visible marks as possible, each blemish in the diamond actually help historians, geologists and archeologists put together the puzzle of our Earth’s past. To think that earth-mined diamonds were here way before us humans ever came into existence and will most likely be around long after, makes the significance of a diamond so much more meaningful.

On top of being beautiful pieces of history, their rareness, difficulty and skill needed to attain and cut, and individual uniqueness are what have made them such a coveted and expensive item for hundreds of years.

Diamonds being incorporated into engagement rings, and jewelry in general, only really began becoming massively popular around the 1940s.  Before that it was only accessible to royalty and the very rich.

The use of something so beautiful and natural, that can’t be broken or cut except for with another diamond to represent a union of two people that will hopefully last forever could not have been a more perfect fit.

“It was a very smart marketing partnership and an easy sell.  However, the diamond also became a direct representation of status and success – a goal, something people wished to be able to buy and afford,” says jewelry expert Josef Fraiman of Merit Diamond Corporation.

“And because of their unbreakable makeup, it was not something you bought just for you, it was an investment into your family’s future, something that you could pass on to your children and grandchildren and so on.  Holding not only sentimental value and history, but monetary value as well.”

In today’s culture, which is all about being “woke” and simultaneously the next story/post on your Instagram account; only the illusion of luxury and lifestyle are what’s needed for the next photo.  Plastic.  Depth, quality and truth are not appreciated or necessary – it’s a thing of the past. It’s all about what’s trending right now, branding of people, followers, fake news and all that jazz.  It seems that nothing has real value anymore and everything is for show and made to be disposable.

But if this is the case, why buy diamonds at all, lab or earth-mined?  There are cubic zirconiums and crystals and plenty of other stones that sparkle, all a much cheaper option than any type of diamond.

As in every industry, things change; and now the jewelry industry is going through a shift as well.  Maybe it’s time for the GIA to create a new type of diamond rating – maybe the flaws in an earth-mined diamond should be looked at as something that can increase a stone’s value rather than decrease its value.  Just like wrinkles on a person’s face – each internal “flaw” on a diamond tells a story and gives personality and makes it unique.

Remember when they started making lab grown emeralds?  Flawless perfect emeralds making them attainable and affordable to the masses.  In the beginning, the lab grown emeralds were selling for $300 dollars per carat. Today you can buy the same lab grown emerald for less than $10 per carat and real, natural emeralds, are now harder to attain and might even be more valuable than they were before lab grown emeralds ever joined the market.  Sound familiar?  “Lab grown diamonds have already lost much of their value in the last few years. A stone that cost $3000 three years ago can now be bought for $800.  It’s clear that in a few years lab grown diamonds will be worth less than $100, though retailers are doing their best to hide this fact,” says jewelry expert Eyal Adini of Merit Diamond Corporation.

And funnily enough, even with the retailers and general public seemingly moving towards lab grown right now; when it comes to engagement rings and wedding bands people seem to see things a bit differently.  With their “forever rings” they still want to continue to invest and ‘splurge’, the meaning and value are still important to them.

When doing a quick survey, 18 out of the 20 people who had said they would prefer to buy jewelry with lab grown diamonds (mostly because of the difference in price and what they categorize as ethical reasons), also said when it came to their engagement and wedding ring they would still prefer to get an earth-mined diamond.

For companies like Merit Diamond Corp. who have been in the industry for over 40 years and have seen trends come and go, changes, evolutions, etc… at the end of the day just like classic is timeless and will always have a market; earth-mined diamonds are irreplaceable and will find their place back on top again as well.

Of course, for those looking to cash out or for a quick deal, lab grown is the easier route to go for sure.  But for companies like Merit, who are in this industry for the long run – real will always be the deal.