Let's start simple with some basic definitions.
or Earth-made diamond
: A diamond produced in the depths of our Earth, minded, and fashioned into the diamonds you are familiar with seeing in the market.
or created diamond
: A stone produced by humans in a lab, creating a crystal with essentially the same chemical makeup of an Earth-made diamond then fashioned into a faceted stone.
: A stone that only looks like a diamond, but can be a genuine gemstone or lab created stone.
In other words, a lab created diamond with essentially the same chemical makeup of an Earth-made diamond, is still a diamond. A lab created stone is made in a lab which replicates nearly the same environment as what happens deep in the Earth. And imitations only look
like diamonds to the untrained eye.
Diamonds are one of the rarest materials known to man. They may not seem rare because you see them in every jewelry store you've ever been to. I could go very in depth with the history of diamonds -- with the very expensive mining process, and how only 10% of what is mined out of the ground is actually profitable material, and how many peoples hands a diamond passes through in order to get to your local jeweler -- but I don't want to bore you to death. Just know it's an costly and timely process and that increases with each person the diamond passes to.
You've read about the 4 C's of diamonds (and if you haven't check out our other blog post on the topic here
). So you know that a 5.00ct, D color, F flawless, and excellent cut diamond is EXTREMELY rare. Smaller diamonds with more color (often yellow and brown) and many inclusions, are still considered rare, because they are still diamond material, but until the 1990s, there was no market for these stones. In fact, until Australia's Argyle mine started marketing these smaller brown stones, they were just used for industrial purposes. Bringing these stones to the market made diamonds more available to the general public who didn't have thousands of dollars to spend on diamonds.
If you are concerned your diamond may be a blood or conflict diamond, have no fear. Experts in our industry are doing everything they can to reduce the flow of conflict diamonds in our market. If you'd like to learn more about this topic, check our this link to the Kimberley Process
. Nearly all diamonds are considered conflict free diamonds today, so your conscience can rest easy.
I personally am partial to Earth-made diamonds because of the history and romanticism. But, I have to appreciate the science behind lab grown synthetic diamonds. How cool is it that scientists figured out how to grow diamonds in a lab!? Essentially they have figured out how to replicate a very similar environment (specific heat and pressure with just the right elements present) that occurs in our Earth when diamonds are formed.
Until recently the diamonds they have created have been very yellow and small in size. More importantly from a business standpoint, they took a long time to create and used very expensive equipment. Slowly but surely, they have figured out how to create more appealing diamonds in less time and in larger sizes. For this reason, synthetic diamonds are less expensive than an Earth-made diamond, but only by about 20%. So if you're looking to save money, a synthetic stone would help, but only a little.
Some of you may prefer a synthetic stone because of the risk of obtaining a conflict or blood Earth-made diamond. Again, I encourage you to check out the Kimberley Process
and see how far experts in our industry have come to nearly eliminating these from the market.
Diamond imitations have been used for as long as we can possibly date back. For many many years, people used clear glass to imitate diamonds for a fraction of the cost. Today you will see genuine white sapphire or genuine white topaz to imitate diamonds. All of these are genuine gemstones or materials, but are used in diamonds place, so they are considered diamond imitations.
Diamond imitations can also be lab created stones. Most people are familiar with lab created cubic zirconia
(CZ) and lab created moissanite
. Both materials are actually found on Earth, but their crystals are too small to actually be used in jewelry. Scientists have created essentially the same crystals in labs, but with larger, usable crystal sizes. Both lab created stones are used as diamond imitations because they look similar to diamond, but are far less expensive.
Earth-made and Man-made (synthetic) diamonds will wear the exact same. They both have essentially the same chemical makeup and are the most durable stones that can be used on jewelry.
Since imitation diamonds are not diamonds at all, they will all wear very differently. They will all have similar optical properties as a diamond, but over time will wear very differently. No imitation can compare to the brilliance and longevity of a diamond, although moissanite does a decent job at competing.
Earth-made diamonds are more expensive than a synthetic diamond or diamond imitation of similar quality. You must remember the time and money and how many people's hands your diamond passes through before reaching your local jewelry store.
Synthetic lab-grown diamonds at the moment cost about 20% less than an Earth-made diamond of similar quality. However with technological advances that are expected in the next 20 years or so, experts are expecting synthetic diamond prices to drop dramatically.
Diamond imitations will be the least expensive of the latter two, but will vary depending on which stone you use as your imitation diamond. For engagement rings, if you're set on an imitation stone, I would recommend either a white sapphire or a lab-created moissanite. Neither can quite beat a genuine diamond, but sapphire's durability, and moissanite's brilliance come pretty close.
At Caleesi Designs Jewelers on South Lamar in Austin, Texas, we don't want you to feel pressured into buying a stone you are uncomfortable purchasing. Whether is be an ethical or a financial burden for you, we want you to be happy with your purchase. We are happy to get in stones for you to see at no cost to you.