Can You Tell the Difference Between Mined and Synthetic Diamonds?

When lab grown diamonds and natural diamonds are shown side-by-side, can you find the difference? Some experts say they can, but in fact they need lots of tools to help them differ one stone from another. The truth is it’s impossible to do that with the naked eye! Why? Because both diamonds are identical with the only difference in their origin. If it’s still hard for you to believe, you should read the report of Bob Moorman, the Carroll’s Jewelers owner and an experienced diamond retailer:

If you are in the market for the prized gem, the next one you buy could be one that took billions of years to form deep within the Earth – or about 12 weeks at a lab in Singapore.

Whichever the choice, “a diamond is a diamond is a diamond,” says Robert Moorman, owner of Carroll’s Jewelers, a long-standing jeweler here.

Carroll’s is one of the latest retailers selling lab-grown diamonds that, according to manufacturers, have the same optical, physical and chemical properties as diamonds formed 100 miles or so below the Earth’s surface.

Though relatively new to the market and still not as popular as mine diamonds, lab diamonds are becoming an alternative for consumers seeking the glitz and glamour of the desirable rock, but not its high price, Moorman says.

Lab diamonds cost about one-third less than traditional diamonds, according to Moorman.

“That’s a lot of money to save and get the same results,” he said. “You can’t tell the difference between the two.”

Lab diamonds “share most of the characteristics of their natural counterparts – both are essentially carbon,” said Stephen Morisseau, director of communications at the Gemological Institute of America.

The nonprofit institute does research and offers education on gems and jewelry.

“GIA believes there is a place in the market for synthetic diamonds as long as they are properly disclosed to the end consumer,” Morisseau said via email.

Creating diamonds in a lab takes six to 12 weeks and involves the placement of a diamond seed in an environment that contains carbons. Under controlled conditions, the diamond grows atom by atom, layer by layer “recreating nature’s process,” according to Pure Grown Diamonds, which supplies Carroll’s lab diamonds.

Pure Grown Diamonds, a New York City-based distributor and jewelry manufacturer, says its diamonds (from a manufacturer in Singapore) are priced about 30 percent to 40 percent less than mine diamonds, carrying price tags from “several hundred dollars up to $25,000.”

The distributor offers diamonds up to 3 carats.

“With time and education people are going to understand that lab-grown diamonds are the diamonds of the future,” said Lisa Bissell, president and CEO of Pure Grown Diamonds.

On a recent Wednesday, a 57-year-old man who declined to give his name so his girlfriend wouldn’t be tipped off that he was about to pop the question, sat at a counter across from Moorman, carefully eyeing with a microscope lab and mine diamonds.

“You can’t tell the difference,” he said.

He’s been doing his homework – visiting several jewelers, researching online and learning all about a diamond’s cut, color, carat weight and clarity, becoming well-versed with lingo such as VVS1 for clarity and E for color.

He said he didn’t want to spend more than $20,000 – and that it would be even better spending just $5,000 to $7,000 if he could find a really nice lab diamond that looked as great as a mine one.

“Sometimes you have to buck up and buy something if it’s the only thing available,” the Carroll’s potential customer said. “But if there are alternatives, why not?”

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