When you’re shopping for a diamond engagement ring, cost is an important consideration. If you’re considering either lab created or earth created diamonds, we can help you figure out what your costs might be.
How Much Do Lab Grown Diamonds Cost? Diamond cost depends on size and quality, but generally speaking, you’ll spend $3,000 to $5,000 per carat for earth mined diamonds. Lab created diamonds are typically 30% to 50% less expensive than mined diamonds. that means that lab diamonds could cost as little as $1,500 per carat.
I’ll share side by side examples of specific diamonds (one lab-grown and one earth-grown), so you can see how the cost differs. I’ll also share information on other aspects of value that you’ll want to understand. Here we go…
Why Are Diamonds so Expensive?
Lab created diamonds cost quite a bit less than earth created diamonds, but both can be quite an investment for many couples. Why do these little gems cost so much? There’s really a different answer for both types of diamond.
You might expect that mined diamonds cost so much because they’re super rare—turns out they’re not all that rare. Next, you might guess that they’re expensive because the process of mining costs a lot—wrong again. Yes, mining is relatively expensive, but DeBeers has released public documents, for example, showing that their production costs (per carat) for mined diamonds hovers around $100. That means they’re being sold at retail for a 3,000% to 5,000% markup…not bad (for DeBeers)!
Why such huge markups on mined diamonds? Because the producers and retailers have been able to get away with it. Also, because the high price tag has a psychological effect that makes you desire the item you see as exclusive (a status symbol). You might chase it even harder than you would if it were more affordable. I recently wrote an article about this psychological pricing strategy for mined diamonds. Click here to read it. The high cost of mined diamonds is the main reason that lab-grown diamonds are exploding in popularity right now though.
Lab created diamonds carry their price tag for an entirely different reason. The technology used to produce them is still pretty new. Technological advances help lower costs, but in the meantime, the materials used to make the diamonds is expensive. Where mining can tap cheap unskilled labor in 3rd world countries, diamond-producing laboratories have to have a highly educated, specialized, experienced, and expensive workforce. Expensive equipment has to be replaced regularly as processes improve as well.
The cost of lab created diamonds isn’t static or increasing—it’s been decreasing. Bain & Company issued a report at the end of 2018 stating that the cost to produce a one-carat lab grown diamond through the CVD method in 2008 was $4,000, but ten years later (at the time of the report) has dropped to just $300 to $500. Those savings from technological advances are largely be passed on to consumers, so the price gap between lab-created diamonds and mined diamonds is likely to continue increasing!
The Cost of Lab Diamonds vs Mined Diamonds
It’s one thing to state that lab cultured diamonds are typically 40-60% less expensive than earth mined diamonds, but I wanted to show you real-life examples. I started by choosing ten 1 carat lab grown diamonds. I selected a variety of gems that offered different types of color and clarity. I then went to a favorite online diamond retailer and found mined diamonds that were exact matches in terms of size, color, clarity, and cut grade. The following table shows how the cost for each of the ten diamonds varies for earth grown and lab-grown diamonds.
Cost Comparison for Lab-Created Diamonds vs Mined Diamonds
|Color Grade||Clarity Grade||Cut Grade||Lab Grown Diamond||Earth Grown Diamond||Lab Grown Savings|
As you can see, the laboratory diamonds are almost always at least 40% less expensive, but some can offer discounts of over 60%!
The Cost of Depreciation for Lab Diamonds vs Mined Diamonds
The initial loss of value could be viewed as a cost associated with buying a diamond—almost any diamond. Mined diamond resellers often mislead prospective buyers into believing that mined diamond hold their value after purchase, while lab-grown diamonds lose ALL value (100%) as soon as they’re purchased. Both of those beliefs couldn’t be more wrong.
You shouldn’t plan to resell the diamond from your engagement ring or wedding ring for a profit at some future point.
- You hope that your marriage is happy enough that you’d never want to part with the ring.
- You’ll get far less than you think, and will probably be disappointed.
Essentially, ALL diamonds lose value once you purchase them from a retail location. A slightly used diamond may look unworn, and come with its original box, warranty, and paperwork, but it’s still going to sell for 30% to 70% less than you paid for it as a used ring (or diamond) in most cases. Even if you hold the diamond for decades before reselling, your inflation-adjusted sale price will likely create a loss.
Diamonds are not an investment most of the time. Having said that, there are some very rare and exclusive diamonds that consistently appreciate, but that’s the exception, not the rule. Those are diamonds that cost hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars and sell at high-end international auctions. The diamond that you buy from a typical jeweler is a consumable—don’t expect appreciation, and you won’t be disappointed.
Is it Better to Buy a Diamond Online?
If variety and price are important to you, then buying your lab created diamond online is going to be your best option. When you visit a local jeweler (even a large one) there are obvious restrictions to the number of rings and diamonds that they can have on display at any given time.
In addition, not all local jewelers carry lab grown diamonds yet. Those that do, may have a relatively small selection available. Those that they do have on hand may not have the size, color, clarity, or cut characteristics that you want—and they’re going to be a lot more expensive than those you find online. Local jewelers simply don’t have some of the cost benefits of scale that online retailer often have. There can also be more middlemen involved with the gems that your local jeweler displays, driving cost up.
Cost is a really important factor, but beyond cost, online retailers have massive selections, so you’re more likely to find the shape, size, color, clarity, and cut combination that’s the absolute perfect fit!
One other major benefit of buying online is the return policy that many online retailers offer. You have a considerable period of time to evaluate your purchase and return it for a full refund if you change your mind. That’s a very different policy than most local jewelry stores offer. When you buy an engagement ring from a local retailer, they frequently accept no returns. That means that if you later change your mind, or plans change, you’re stuck with a ring that you won’t be using.
In contrast, my favorite online retailer for lab-grown diamonds provides a 100-day return policy on all their gems. My favorite online retailer for mined diamonds offers a ‘no questions asked,’ 30-day money back guarantee. I certainly feel more comfortable making a big and important purchase when I know that it’s backed by a solid return policy.
What Should I Do if I Can’t Afford a Diamond Engagement Ring?
If even the lower costs associated with lab-grown diamonds can’t fit your budget, don’t get discouraged. There are some really great alternatives available at lower price points. They can either be used as a permanent solution or something more temporary—allowing you to swap out for a lab grown diamond or mined diamond several years down the road.
Moissanite is a diamond simulant that I would recommend investigating as a starting point. It’s a really scratch resistant and durable stone that can hold up to years of everyday wear. While Moissanite isn’t diamond, it probably is the non-diamond stone that looks (and acts) most like a diamond.
For information on how the cost of Moissanite measures up against the cost of lab-grown diamonds, click here and review the article where I recently wrote comparing the two.
Another option would be financing the purchase. Most online retailers offer financing through a third party financing company. I think it’s a better idea to get a ring that you can afford without financing—even if you have to get a smaller ring for now.
If you choose to finance, I’d definitely recommend that you stay as frugal as possible (don’t go overboard with the ring, simply because you don’t have to pay for it upfront). There’s sometimes a tendency to spend a lot more when purchasing on credit. You might normally be happy with a .75 carat lab diamond, but since you got approved for credit, you upgrade to the 2-carat diamond, for example. You’ll probably be much happier when you purchase something somewhat conservative that you love and can pay off quickly.
Lab Diamonds are significantly less expensive than mined diamonds. There’s also really no downside to purchasing a lab created diamond over a mined diamond, since no one can visibly tell the difference, and they’re equally hard (scratch resistant) and durable. If you ultimately decide to purchase a lab created diamond, you might be able to use the money you save to cover other wedding expenses, upgrade your honeymoon, pay off debt, or save a little cash for future needs. The savings make a good thing even better!
Pink Lab Grown Diamonds: What They Cost & How They’re Made
Why Lab Diamonds Are So Much Cheaper Than Mined Diamonds
Are Lab Grown Diamonds Fake?
There are MANY misconceptions that are intentionally (and sometimes ignorantly) being peddled and promoted online regarding lab grown diamonds. I call these the ‘cons’ of lab grown diamonds, because they’re positioned as cons (negatives or drawbacks to the gem), but in reality, they’re ‘cons’ (false information being positioned as fact).
In this article, we’ll cover 7 of the most common informational con jobs that are circling the web, being promoted through industry marketing campaigns, and being discussed in countless jewelry stores around the world when man-made diamonds are brought up
- Lie #1: Laboratory Diamonds are ‘Synthetic’
- Lie #2: Lab Created Diamonds are Tacky
- Lie #3: Lab Diamonds Lose All Value the Moment You Buy Them
- Lie #4: You Can’t Insure Lab Grown Diamonds
- Lie #5: The ONLY Legitimate Use of Lab Diamonds is Small Gifts
- Lie #6: Mined Diamonds are an Investment—Lab Diamonds Aren’t
- Lie #7: Mined Diamonds Show That You Love Your Partner More
Let’s dive right in!
Lie #1: Laboratory Diamonds are ‘Synthetic’
The word ‘synthetic’ means fake or imitation to most people. The term ‘synthetic diamond’, for example, would immediately translate to ‘fake diamond’ in the minds of many. People might assume, for example, that a synthetic diamond is made out of some fancy plastic or resin, or some other material that’s different than what ‘real’ diamonds are made of.
Synthetic is a valid, and commonly used, term for gemologists, but it’s an awfully convenient word for marketers and jewelers with an agenda to use with non-gemologists that have a very different natural understanding of the word. Until the summer of 2018, ‘synthetic’ seemed to the term that was used most in the industry to describe man made diamonds. Some used it because it was a common and understood term, but others used it very intentionally as a way to shape opinions and impressions of the stone.
In mid-2018, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) made it known that they don’t like the word ‘synthetic’ because they feel that it’s a misleading term. In their eyes, ‘synthetic’ denotes ‘fake’ for most people that hear it … and lab created diamonds are NOT fake diamonds—they are LITERALLY diamonds (just like those mined from the earth).
Why would the FTC care? Why would they bother to make such a statement? The FTC is the agency of the US Federal government that’s responsible for ensuring truth in advertising. If they observe marketing tactics that mislead (especially on a large scale), they try to step in and correct it. The term ‘synthetic’ was misleading, and they let the industry know that they viewed it that way—especially when labeling the products of another retailer using that kind of label or language.
The Reality, is that man-made diamonds are THE SAME as mined diamonds when it comes to look, durability, and function. In fact, they’re visibly indistinguishable. Even the most seasoned industry professionals aren’t able to distinguish a lab-cultured diamond from a ‘natural’ diamond. Lab created diamonds are just as hard as mined diamonds. They have the same fire, brilliance, and scintillation. If you’re unfamiliar with those terms, check out the article that I wrote about the Moissanite cuts that sparkle most. The information also applies to lab-created diamonds too, and fire, brilliance, and scintillation are explained there. They definitely DON’T carry the same price tag though. Lab created diamonds typically cost 40% to 50% less than mined diamonds. I wrote a whole post on why lab-grown diamonds are so much cheaper than mined diamonds. Click HERE if you’d like to read it.
Lie #2: Lab Created Diamonds are Tacky
How do you keep people buying a product that’s at least twice as expensive when the competing product looks identical and is just as durable? By shaming them. You have to make them feel that the other product just isn’t cool—in fact, it’s ‘tacky’. But how could something that’s so identical that a gemologist can’t even distinguish from a mined diamond, without sophisticated and specialized equipment, be tacky?
We are ALL extremely susceptible to conditioning from marketers. They’re masterful at what they do. In countless ways, they can condition us to feel that buying the drastically less expensive ‘synthetic’ version means something negative about us or our relationship. Too often, we accept their messaging and allow it to shape our beliefs and opinions.
There’s absolutely nothing tacky about saving 50% on a major purchase and ending up with a beautiful product that can’t be distinguished from the much more expensive version. It means that you can save a lot of money that could be put to better use elsewhere. It could also mean that you could afford to purchase a lab-diamond that’s twice as big as the mined diamond that you would have been able to purchase otherwise. What’s tacky about that?!
I wrote a post called Are Lab Grown Diamonds Bad? that addresses this issue in more depth. If you’d like to read it, click here.
Lie #3: Lab Diamonds Lose All Value the Moment You Buy Them
It’s literally said that the very moment you purchase a lab-created diamond, that it’s value drops to $0. That’s both a made up ‘fact’ and an ignorant statement.
Awareness of lab grown diamonds is growing fast! Acceptance and adoption are exploding! Lab-grown diamonds can, of course, be resold. You typically wouldn’t resell to a jeweler or pawn shop. They generally wouldn’t be a good option for reselling mined diamonds either. Your best bet would be selling private party. You could do that through local online classified ads. Sites like Craigslist.com, Kijiji.com, KSL.com, and many others allow you to create free ads for items that you’d like to sell.
Think about it, if someone is looking at potentially buying a lab-grown diamond ring anyway, why wouldn’t they be interested in buying a used one at a significant discount if the style was in line with what they were looking for anyway? Lab-grown diamonds resell this way all the time.
Some jewelers may not be interested in buying a used lab grown diamond, simply because they don’t sell lab-grown diamonds in their store—they’re trying not to detract from the mined diamonds they offer … but that doesn’t mean that no one will buy it. They absolutely will, and the kind of discount that you have to offer to a buyer of lab created diamond, is in line with the type of discount that you’d need to offer when reselling an earth-grown diamond.
Lie #4: You Can’t Insure Lab Grown Diamonds
The same people claiming that the value of lab created diamonds drops to zero the moment you buy them, often claim that you can’t insure these rings either. The implication is that even insurers know that they have no value, so they won’t even issue insurance on them. That logic doesn’t make sense on multiple levels.
Even if it was true (and it isn’t) that lab grown diamonds have no monetary value once they’re purchased…why would that stop insurers from issuing insurance on it? Replacing the lab diamond if it were lost or stolen would still cost whatever it originally retailed for when purchased new. It’s reasonable to insure against the risk of having to repurchase your ring. And since when are insurance companies not interested in collecting premiums … especially against items that won’t cost them much to replace.
This one is just complete and total garbage. It’s simply untrue. You can insure a lab grown diamond ring just as easily as a mined diamond ring. You can insure it as a rider to your homeowners/renters policy, as a separate policy through the same company that you get your homeowners/renters policy through, or as a separate policy from a company that has a specific focus on jewelry.
Lie #5: The ONLY Legitimate Use of Lab Diamonds is Small Gifts
Companies that are in the business of mining, marketing, or retailing earth-grown diamonds have to position lab-grown diamonds as inferior products, or second class citizens, in order to protect their market and margins.
Some groups offer BOTH mined diamonds and lab cultured diamonds. They have to find a way to serve both audiences while justifying the cost of their higher priced items. They can’t fully discredit lab diamonds if they’re selling them, but they don’t want people to abandon mined diamonds for their big purchases either.
They’ve decided to position lab diamonds as something that’s fine for something small like earrings, a necklace, or pendant, but not engagement rings or wedding rings. DeBeers seems to be leading this parade. Last year they shocked the industry by announcing that they were going to start producing lab-grown diamonds. They’ve since started selling those under a related brand for $800 per carat. They’ve been careful to distinguish that the lab stones are only for the smaller gifts and lighter moments. In fact, you can’t buy loose lab diamonds from them, and you can’t buy engagement or wedding rings from them. Since launching the new leg of their business, they’ve stuck to necklaces, pendants, and earrings.
I understand why using lab created diamonds only for smaller gifts like birthdays and graduations might be good for their business (it allows them to sell their higher margin mined diamonds for most wedding and anniversary-related needs, but how can it be viewed as a valid boundary? If the diamonds are made of the same element, look identical, and are equally durable—then WHY NOT use them for an engagement ring or wedding ring? Again, this is a con. We’re being conned into making purchase decisions that serve the needs and interests of companies like DeBeers, rather than make the most sense for our relationship and budgetary constraints.
Lie #6: Mined Diamonds are an Investment—Lab Diamonds Aren’t
The diamond industry, in general, tends to insinuate that mined diamonds hold their value and even appreciate in value. That expectation leads many people to buy diamonds that are much larger and more expensive than they could justify buying if they recognized the purchase more of a consumable item that would actually lose value.
Some diamonds do appreciate in value, but they aren’t your run-of-the-mill engagement ring diamond. They aren’t even the larger, nicer, fancier diamonds that some people place on their rings when they really splurge. The ones that appreciate are certain ultra rare fancy colored diamonds, or very large and rare colorless diamonds (the kinds that sell in the auctions of famous diamond auction houses like Christie’s. These rare and beautiful appreciating diamonds often cost hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. They’re the exceptions—not the norm.
Your grandparents may have a diamond ring that’s worth a lot more than they originally paid for it. Maybe they spent $150 on their ring in 1930, and today it’s worth $1,200. Isn’t that appreciation? It’s really just inflation. The cost of food, gas, cars, houses, movie tickets, candy bars, and just about everything else has also risen substantially over the years. Chances are, that the inflation-adjusted resale price of your ring will be a loss, regardless of when you sell it. They just aren’t true investments … and that’s honestly ok, as long as you don’t buy them as if they ARE investments.
The real lie here, is pretending that mined diamonds will protect the amount spent on them, or that they’ll somehow turn a profit. Hopefully, you never plan to sell your ring anyway! Regardless, NEITHER man made diamonds or earth made diamonds are investments that you should plan to see appreciation from. They’re treasures that are meant for you to enjoy for their beauty and sentimental value.
Lie #7: Mined Diamond Mean You Love Your Partner More
No one is overtly saying this, but it’s the implication of the talking points and marketing of the mined diamond industry. The gist is, “there’s something wrong with you, or your relationship if you don’t buy a ‘real’ diamond.”
According to a recent survey, the average engagement ring in the US runs nearly $6,000. The same study showed that in California, the average e-ring is more than $10,000! Since these are averages, we know that roughly half of the group spent more than these amounts, and half spent less. It’s interesting to also note that the divorce rate in the US currently sits at about 50%. If the mined diamond industry were to guess at causation for our current divorce rate, they might speculate that it’s the half of the population that spent less on there engage rings than the averages quoted above who are getting divorced. They might even guess it’s all the folks that bought lab-grown diamonds!
Again, in order to continue selling expensive mined diamonds in an era where lab created diamonds are identical in look, quality, and durability, but 40-50% less expensive, they have to masterfully market to create some sort of shame that comes with buying something else. As if you’re jinxing the prospects for your relationship if you don’t buy a mined diamond, or you’re publicly admitting that you don’t love your partner all that much if you aren’t willing to spring for an earth grown diamond. It’s manipulation at its finest, but it REALLY works!
Silly isn’t it?! If more costly diamonds made for more successful marriages, or symbolized deeper and truer love, then ‘A-list’ celebrity couples sporting giant diamond rings would tend to have the happiest and longest lasting marriages. Consciously we know that there’s no correlation, but marketers are much more effective targeting our subconscious thoughts and beliefs than making an appeal based on logic and reason. Consciously we know that diamond size has nothing to do with the quality of our love or relationship.
Contrary to the careful conditioning of marketers and society, studies show that more frugal couples actually have marriages that last longer. That’s the total opposite of what marketing messages lead us to believe. One study conducted by Emory University found that couples who spent less than $1,000 on their rings actually had marriages that lasted the longest. There was a clear pattern all the way through the results. The more that was spent on the wedding rings, the shorter the marriages lasted, on average. The same trend showed held for overall wedding expenses as well—the more frugal weddings lasted longer.
The study is inconvenient for the mined diamond industry. It doesn’t help their cause, but it’s based on objective research, and it teaches us some important things. Buying a frugal ring isn’t a sacrifice. The ring is a symbol of our love and relationship. It’s the relationship—not the ring that’s valuable. It’s the relationship that should appreciate and get even more valuable over time. Sometimes when we focus too much on the ring, and put too much weight in his value, we may unintentionally neglect the aspect of our marriage that should really be at the core of our thoughts and emotions. It’s not about the ring, it’s about the union.
These 7 Lies, or ‘cons,’ are designed to create fear, shame, and doubt around buying and presenting a lab created diamond. In reality, lab grown diamonds are rapidly being adopted by couples who want 100% certainty that their gems weren’t mined with human slavery. They also love being able to save 40% to 50% on the cost of a diamond that’s visibly identical to an earth grown diamond—and every bit as durable!
According to a 2018 study, about 70% of Millennials surveyed said that they would be open to purchasing an engagement ring that featured a lab-grown diamond. That was a startling jump from the results recorded for a similar survey done in prior years. Many predict that the market for lab cultured diamonds could be 1000% larger by 2020. With that kind of growth pattern anticipated and underway, expect more misinformation and confusion to be aggressively promoted by the mined diamond industry in an effort to protect their product.
Awareness of the facts and tactics that are commonly used makes you less susceptible to marketing ploys that continually attempt to steer you toward buying products that serve the retailer but aren’t in your best interest.
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Why Lab Diamonds Are So Much Cheaper Than Mined Diamonds
Lab Created Diamond and Moissanite are so similar, and yet, still quite different. We’ll zero in on both the similarities and differences in this article.
Which is better, a Lab Created Diamond or Moissanite? Moissanite is durable and looks very similar to diamond, so if money is really tight, Moissanite is probably your best option. Lab Grown Diamonds are harder, and therefore more durable than Moissanite, but they are also going to be a good deal more expensive, so they aren’t the right choice for everyone.
Both lab-grown diamond and Moissanite are great options for ‘forever’ stones, but which is best for you? We’ll provide all the information you need in order to make that important decision below.
The Origins of Lab Diamond vs The Origins of Moissanite
Both man-made diamonds and Moissanite are grown in a laboratory. This means that you can be certain that these stones are 100% ‘conflict’ free. The term ‘conflict’ or ‘blood diamond’ is used to denote diamonds that are mined from the earth through slave labor, or to fund the war efforts of violent militant groups.
Organizations have been trying to create quality lab created diamonds for many decades. General Electric (GE) made important contributions to the effort, along with many others. GE ran businesses that had to purchase diamonds for industrial application. Being able to create diamonds in a laboratory would mean big savings or them. Early successes in production provided a man made diamond that could be used in industrial application, but it’s only in very recent years that the technology has advanced to the point that jewelry quality diamonds can be produced.
What’s incredible, is that today’s cultured diamonds are visibly indistinguishable from earth mined diamonds. Large grading laboratories typically have to use highly specialized and incredibly expensive testing equipment in order to positively distinguish between a lab grown and an earth grown diamond. The market for lab-grown diamonds for engagement and wedding rings is taking off for the following reasons:
- They’re typically 40% to 50% cheaper than mined diamonds
- No one can visibly tell above ground diamonds from below ground diamonds (even professionals)
- People feel better ethically about ‘conflict-free’ stones
- Lab diamonds are less damaging to the environment
- Fancy colored lab grown diamonds are MUCH more affordable
Moissanite is a man made version of a real stone that’s just unbelievably rare. A French scientist was investigating a meteor impact site in the late 1800s when he found a crystal that he believed to be diamond. Several years later, he discovered that it wasn’t diamond, but a new material, which was later named Moissanite. Tiny bits of this stone can still be found at the site of many meteor crashes, and a very few other locations around the globe. If all we had was the tiny amounts of natural Moissanite for jewelry application, it’s cost would make it unobtainable.
What’s special about Moissanite? While the stone is amazing in its own right, truthfully, most people love Moissanite because it looks so similar to diamond, but costs considerably less.
People commonly buy Moissanite for their engagement rings and wedding rings for the following reasons:
- It’s typically 80-95% cheaper than a mined diamond, and at least 70% cheaper than a lab diamond
- Few non-professionals can tell that it isn’t diamond, though there are indications if you know what to look for.
- They’re all ‘conflict free’ stones
- Their production is seen as less damaging to the environment than diamond mining
- They want something that’s a little different than what everyone else is wearing
- They’re incredibly hard and durable stones
Awareness, and acceptance, of Moissanite, seems to be exploding as well right now. Many people that can afford diamonds (and that already own diamonds) have fallen in love with Moissanite and love to wear it.
The look of Lab Grown Diamond vs The Look of Moissanite
Lab created diamonds look EXACTLY like earth-grown diamonds. They typically still have some inclusions and don’t always come out completely colorless. Man-made diamonds can be colorless, or they can have varying degrees of yellow or brown hue.
You could think of it as a diamond’s doppelganger. A doppelganger is someone that looks like they could be a twin (they look incredibly similar), but they aren’t actually related. Moissanite isn’t made of carbon, and definitely isn’t a diamond.
Like diamonds, Moissanite can come in a variety of shades ranging from colorless to some shade of yellow hue. Those that like colorful sparkle, LOVE Moissanite. It’s a more fiery stone, because it breaks up the light that enters the top and sides of the stone into the spectrum of colors that the light is comprised of and then reflects those colorful sparkles back so much more efficiently than diamond does.
Moissanite vs Diamond Stats
Moissanite has a unique quality to the way it looks in certain lighting, and from a particular angle. Larger Moissanite stones (especially those over 1 carat) tend to take on a colored overtone for brief moments. It’s only visible under certain lighting conditions and from a particular angle.
My wife wears a Moissanite ring. It would be extremely hard for most people to tell that the stones aren’t diamond. They look colorless and sparkle beautifully. When my wife is driving at times, she’ll glance at her ring, and it will have a greenish tone because of the light’s interaction with the ring and her viewing angle in that moment. A moment later, she won’t be able to see the green hue. I’ve never noticed that with her ring, but she’s seen it a number of times (always while driving). She loves the ring and doesn’t mind the perceived temporary color change. It’s actually a really cool and unique attribute of Moissanite.
The Durability of Man Made Diamond vs Moissanite
Durability is important because your engagement ring and wedding ring have so much sentimental value, because they’re going to work in some tough conditions at times, and because rings often require a pretty significant investment. Fortunately, both lab-grown diamonds and Moissanite are extremely scratch resistant and durable stones.
The Mohs Scale of Hardness is the way that scratch resistance is typically measured for gems and other similar materials. The numeric scale runs from 1 to 10. The higher the number assigned to a particular material, the harder it is. In its simplest form, you would know that something rated as a 7 on Mohs Scale could scratch something that’s rated a 5, simply because it’s harder. Something that’s a 4 couldn’t scratch something that’s rated a 6 because it’s softer. The scale is relative. The higher the number, the harder the material, but the numbers DON’T tell you HOW MUCH harder one material is that another. In other words, a 10 isn’t necessarily twice as hard as a 5. It might be 20 times as hard as a 5.
With that basic understanding in place, it might be interesting to know that Moissanite is rated a 9.25 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness. That means it’s harder (more scratch resistant) than any other rock or gem known to man—except diamond. Diamond is rated a 10. Again that means that Diamond is harder. A diamond could scratch a piece of Moissanite, but a piece of Moissanite couldn’t scratch a diamond.
Both stones are hard enough to endure daily wear. You should always be careful with your ring, but neither of these stones are particularly fragile. Yes, diamond is harder, but you pay a lot more for it. Is the extra money worth it? It really comes down to preference. Both are quality stones that can last a lifetime. One certainly costs less than the other, but the cost probably isn’t your ONLY consideration.
The Cost of Lab Created Diamond vs Moissanite
Speaking of cost, Here’s what you can expect to see for lab cultured diamonds and Moissanite of various sizes:
Pricing: Moissanite vs Lab Grown Diamond vs Mined Diamond
|Size (in Carats)||Color||Clarity||Cost||% Savings |
(over mined diamond)
|Lab Grown Diamond||0.3||F||VS1||$482||-||Excellent|
|Lab Grown Diamond||0.5||F||VS2||$950||31.65%||Ideal|
|Earth Grown Diamond||0.5||F||VS2||$1,390||-||Excellent|
|Lab Grown Diamond||0.75||E||VS2||$1,560||49.84%||Very Good|
|Earth Grown Diamond||0.75||F||VS2||$3,110||-||Excellent|
|Lab Grown Diamond||1.0||F||VS2||$2,850||50.86%||-|
|Earth Grown Diamond||1.0||F||VS2||$5,800||-||Excellent|
I hope that’s a helpful reference. There are various things that you can do to adjust your costs for each stone. By changing any of the characteristics addressed by the 4C’s (accepting a stone that’s less colorless, a smaller stone, more/different inclusions, or a lesser cut grade, you can decrease the costs represented in this table even further if needed.
Both lab-grown diamonds and Moissanite are excellent frugal ring options that allow you to have all the sparkle you could want for your special ring, while still saving significant money over the cost of buying an earth-grown diamond. Either lab created stone will also be a more environmentally friendly, and socially responsible, choice than mined diamonds. Don’t you love it when you get to pick between two good options—and basically can’t lose?!
Are Lab Diamonds Unbreakable?
Can Moissanite Scratch, Break, Chip, or Crack? | Durability
How to Insure a Lab Grown Diamond Ring | The Cost & Process
Many retailers display, and sell, rings with pre-set diamonds. They’re ready to purchase and wear out of the store if you wanted to. Another option is buying the diamond separate from the ring and mounting it later. There are several real advantages to this approach, but a few cons too.
Is it Cheaper to Buy Loose Lab Created Diamonds? Purchasing a loose diamond can potentially help you to save money on the total cost of your assembled ring. It’s easy to compare prices and characteristics for loose stones, but you also don’t have the ring design, or material, to cloud the portion of the total price that’s attributed to the diamond.
Few consumers have ever purchased a loose diamond. This article will address the pros and cons of this buying this way. I’ll also give you my favorite place to purchase loose lab created diamonds.
What is a Loose Diamond?
Loose diamonds are diamonds purchased all by themselves, rather than already mounted on a ring. It’s not very common for couples to purchase their diamond and setting separately. Most couples tend to shop for rings that catch their eye and match their budget. There’s nothing really wrong with approaching the purchase that way, but there could be advantages in buying a diamond ‘loose’ to pair with the setting of your choice. We’ll discuss the pros and cons below, so you can decide if it’s the right approach for you.
Buying The Best Diamond Possible Without Blowing Your Budget
The 4 main drivers of diamond value are cut, color, clarity, and carat weight. When you shop loose diamonds, you typically have a large selection to choose from. You’ll have many variations in all 4 of those areas. That means that you can make strategic tradeoffs that allow you to get the features that are most important to you while staying within your budget.
If diamond size (carat weight) is really important to you, you can select a larger diamond and give a little on the color or clarity for example. If having a very colorless diamond is most important, you could get a ‘D’ or ‘E’ and concede a little on the size or clarity of the diamond. It’s all a matter of balance and tradeoffs. Ultimately, your diamond can be good in all areas, but exceptional in the one or two areas that are most important to you for example.
When you’re dealing with a company that has a large selection, you can sort through a huge supply of lab diamonds that can match almost any configuration that might be of interest.
How Much Does it Cost to Have a Diamond Mounted to a Setting?
Paying a local jeweler to mount a loose diamond to a separate ring will vary widely. Going to a jeweler at the mall, for example, will likely be more expensive than working with a small independent jeweler. The key to finding a great price for the service is getting several bids. That’s something you should be able to do within 15 minutes or so by phone.
Generally speaking, setting an unmounted diamond will likely cost between $90 and $240. It’s often well worth the cost of mounting because of the money saved through the process of buying this way, and the fact that you’ve been able to pair the perfect gem and setting through this process.
Pros of Buying a Loose Lab Grown Diamond
Less Compromise: When you purchase a finished ring, you may have to compromise to some degree on either the diamond or the design of the ring. The jeweler that has the best diamond selection may not be the jeweler that also has the best ring designs. Buying a loose diamond and a setting separately can allow you to buy from the very best source for each element. That extra effort could allow you to assemble the ring of your dreams, rather than settling for a setting that’s not quite perfect because you like the diamond that’s mounted to the ring or compromising on a diamond because you like the setting that it’s attached to. You can have the best of both worlds!
Find the Best Price on Each Component: The style of your ring isn’t the only consideration. If you need a frugal ring, you probably have a budget that you need to stay within. Buying this way can allow you to buy from the sources that sell each component for the best rate (without sacrificing quality). When you save on both the diamond and the setting, it can make a huge difference in your total cost.
Ability to Save the Diamond For Later: Instead of buying an engagement ring AND a wedding band, some couples choose a diamond simulant for their engagement ring, and then swap it out for a lab created diamond just before the wedding. The swapping of the center stone is a change that celebrates the milestone but also minimizes expense.
Clarity on the Price of the Diamond: When you buy a pre-made ring that already has a diamond mounted, it’s really hard to tell how much of the overall price is related to the diamond, and how much is related to the setting. That lack of clarity is a great advantage for retailers. In fact, ‘bundling’ is a classic way for businesses to improve their profit margins. When the parts of the ring are in their individual components, they’re easier to shop and compare. Bundling makes each ring a little more distinctive (harder to shop with an ‘apples-to-apples comparison).
Cons of Buying a Loose Lab Grown Diamond
While buying loose lab created diamonds has many advantages, it also has some disadvantages that you need to be aware of before deciding to buy that way.
It’s More Time Consuming: The stakes are pretty high when you’re buying an engagement ring or wedding ring. If it includes any kind of diamond, then you’re making a real investment in the ring and you want to buy the right one. The right diamond ring is one that is beautiful, durable, and affordable. While buying a man made diamond and setting separately can often give you to the best chance of getting the perfect diamond and the perfect setting at a price that also fits your budget well, it could also double the time that you send on a process that already seems to take quite a while. If you love the process of shopping, this won’t bother you. If you CAN’T STAND shopping, it may make more sense to buy something that’s pre-built and ready to go.
There’s Temptation to Exceed Your Budget: If you go into an electronics store and buy a pre-built computer, you only have certain price and feature combinations available. It may be easy for you to stay away from the systems that are WAY outside the reach of your budget. On the other hand, if you start with a basic system and are offered the ability to customize your system with little upgrades that you might find valuable, it would be easy to justify a system that’s much more expensive than you originally planned, because you moved up in price a little at a time based on small cost increases that were tied to attractive performance increases. The same thing can happen when you buy a loose diamond. The budget you’ve set for your lab diamond might be set at $2200.
When you initially start looking at diamonds that could be considered, you find some nice options that could work well for only $1,800, but then notice that for only a couple of hundred dollars more, you could move from an ‘F’ color grade to an ‘E’ color grade. For a couple hundred more, you could move up in clarity several levels. For a few hundred more, you could increase the size of your diamond quite a bit.
Little by little, the upgrade options pull you into a beautiful ring that’s far more expensive than you originally planned for. You have to be prepared for this kind of temptation. This kind of flexibility is great, as long as you can make trade-offs that make sense and still meet your budgetary constraints.
It’s Helpful to See the Finished Product All Together: If you’re like me, it’s helpful to see a finished product put together so you can get a clear idea of how all the individual components look when put together. Sometimes the shape or shade of a gem that you choose may not look as good as you hoped against a particular metal color or ring design that you were considering. It’s awful when you realize that AFTER you’ve already purchased the individual components—especially if they aren’t returnable. Some people have the gift of being able to clearly visualize their finished product. Buying a diamond and setting separately would be perfect for them.
The Best Place to Buy Loose Lab Created Diamonds
My favorite source for loose lab created diamonds offers a HUGE selection and really great prices. They also offer 3 other things that are really important to a guy like me that doesn’t want to get stuck with a ring that I later find wasn’t the right choice.
- A 100-day money back guarantee (with FREE return shipping)!
- The ability to pick a lab diamond and setting separately and then see them paired together.
- A presentation ring that I can swap out later.
Nothing says that you have confidence in the value and quality of your product like a 100-day money back guarantee! Who do you know in this industry that has a longer return period? It’s incredibly rare. Physical jewelry stores typically don’t allow returns at all!
Aside from those major benefits, they also offer FREE FedEx overnight shipping, up to 24-month financing, FREE layaway, FREE lab grading on all gems, one FREE resizing within the first 100 days if needed (with free shipping in BOTH directions), and more.
Their site also allows you to select the perfect man-made diamond among many options of all sizes, quality grades, and price ranges, and then pair it with the setting that you like best. it’s the best of BOTH worlds. You can select each component individually and see it in combination before buying. You then have the 100-day return policy to ensure you love it as much in person as you did online!
Click here to learn more about them, and to browse their available inventory.
The Cost of Lab Grown Diamonds vs Natural Diamonds
Lab Created Diamond vs Moissanite | Look, Durability, & Cost
Why Lab Diamonds Are So Much Cheaper Than Mined Diamonds
Diamond grading is only valuable if you understand which lab provided the grading and how strictly or liberally they grade their diamonds. This article will help you avoid the labs that grade in misleading ways.
Which Grading Lab is Best For Lab Grown Diamonds? IGI or AGS are typically the best labs for grading lab-grown diamonds. While GIA is the most recognized and respected lab in the world for diamond grading, they aren’t the best option for lab grown diamonds. They don’t grade lab diamonds with the same level of detail that they grade earth mined diamonds.
There are many gem grading laboratories operating around the world. The pricing, reputation, grading detail, and the grading methodology varies widely between them. The rest of this article will help you understand some key differences and the lab that is likely best for grading your lab created diamonds.
Placing Trust in the Labs: Why Diamond Grading Matters
Diamond grading laboratories evaluate the gems that are sent to them and define key qualities of the stone they’re examining. When it comes to diamonds, they generally study and provide information in 4 primary areas. These are the 4 key drivers of diamond value—often referred to as the “4 C’s.” They include the following:
- Carat Weight
Each of these areas are important aspects of value for both man made diamonds and earth made diamonds. Grading laboratories are staffed by professional gemologists we look to for clear and accurate information on the qualities of the gems that are sent to them.
Color is an evaluation of how vivid or colorless a diamond is. The diamonds at both of those extremes are typically the most prized (and expensive). Diamonds that are naturally colorless are rare and valuable. Most earth-grown diamonds have some degree of yellow or brown tint to them. The more hue of yellow or brown a nearly colorless diamond has, the less valuable it generally is (if all other variables being constant).
Again, it isn’t JUST colorless diamonds that are rare or highly sought after. Vivid colored diamonds are also quite rare and expensive. Diamonds can come in blue, yellow, green, red, pink, and many other colors. Some colors are more rare and valuable than others. Within its color group, the more deep and vivid the color of a particular diamond, the more valuable that it generally is.
Clarity has to do with the inclusions that a particular diamond has. It’s an evaluation of how many inclusions there are, how large they are, and where they’re situated in the gem. Because of size and positioning, some inclusions are more noticeable than others. Some can be easily observed with the naked eye, while others would require magnification to notice. In some cases, significant inclusions can even disrupt the flow of light within the stone, interfering with sparkle. Lab created diamonds often have inclusions in them—just like earth grown diamonds do.
Cut has to do with the quality of the facets that are created around the surface of the ring. The positioning and symmetry of the facets are a major consideration. The cut is both a science and an art. The ‘science’ behind it requires a certain number of facets of very specific sizes in carefully calculated positions around the ring. Again, symmetry is critical. With it, even an average diamond can sparkle and look beautiful. Without it, a beautiful can be left looking dull and lifeless.
Carat Weight means the actual weight of the diamonds, which is measured in a unit called carats—rather than something like ounces. Large diamonds are more scarce, so carat weight also is a driver of retail value. Generally speaking, the larger a particular diamond is, the more it’s going to cost.
Many labs also screen diamonds for an indication of possible diamond treatments that are designed to improve the appearance of the gem artificially—making it appear more rare and valuable than it actually is. The lab is on the lookout for things like HPHT (High-Pressure High Temperature) treatment, laser drilling, and fracture filling.
For the non-professional, the exact cut, color, and clarity qualities of the stone, along with their implications on value aren’t obvious. Determining if physical attributes are natural or the result of treatments is almost impossible, without looking for guidance and placing your trust in the hands of the professional gemologist that work at a grading lab. They have to help by establishing (or confirming) the quality factors, and characteristics, of their ring that determine rarity and value. That’s a lot of trust!
Based on the heavy responsibility that’s been placed on grading laboratories, you would hope that they would be fairly unified in the way that they grade diamonds. You would expect that the same diamond sent to multiple laboratories would receive a pretty similar grading report from each of them, but that’s not the case. In fact, their reports and grading can vary a lot from lab to lab—but why?
Some labs are used by jewelers because they grade more liberally. They essentially round up or are intentionally generous with their grading, the jewelers that sell these diamonds can attempt to sell them for more (as if they’re more valuable than they actually are). The nomenclature and scales also vary with some labs. Instead of using the standard terms and scales used by the largest and most respected labs, they use terms and scales that are far less clear—and often misleading. There’s a market for diamond graders that will tell their clients what they want to hear, rather than the actual facts regarding each gem.
Think about it this way, when a homeowner wants to sell their house, they may have an over-inflated and unrealistic impression of what it’s worth (or what they’d like to get for it). The first appraiser may not give them the value that they’d like to see attributed to their home, so they hire another—and another. Eventually, they find an appraiser that’s willing to get creative with the comparables that he pulls and how he interprets other similar homes that have sold. He gives them the value they were looking for, and they’re happy with the end result. The next time they have a home to sell, they’re likely to call the same appraiser.
Some small and unknown “Diamond grading companies” can be somewhat similar. Manufacturers and jewelers can probably find someone that will tell them what they want to hear if they look hard enough. Reputation is everything when it comes to the validity of diamond grading reports. The fact that a diamond was graded a certain way means almost nothing. The fact that it was graded by a well-respected lab like GIA (Gemological Institute of America), AGS (), or IGI (International Gemological Institute) means a great deal. In other words, a grading report, or certification, is only as good as the reputation of the company that created the report. If a jeweler shows a grading report for a diamond that was done by a lab that you’ve never heard of or don’t trust—seek confirmation regarding the features and quality of the diamond from a source you DO trust. Don’t make your buying decision based on the contents of a questionable report. Insist on confirmation through a reputable lab of your choosing.
The Domestic and International Labs That Grade Lab Created Diamonds
There are MANY gemological laboratories around the world. It’s a good idea to only work with those that are most trusted, reputable, and consistent. The labs listed below are some of those, serving various corners of the globe, that are often used for grading laboratory diamonds. Each lab has pros and cons. Some of those are major and some are minor. I’ll share more on those below.
- GIA (Gemological Institute of America)
- AGS (American Gem Society)
- IGI (International Gemological Institute)
- GSI (Gemological Science International)
GIA: Operates labs in Antwerp, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Surat, Tokyo, California, Gaborone, Johannesburg, Ramat Gan, New York City, and Carlsbad. They’re headquartered in Carlsbad, California.
AGS: Founded in 1996. AGS (whose labs are often referred to as AGSL) has fairly well-respected grading standards, but they only grade the cut on a small assortment of diamond shapes. They won’t grade most fancy colored diamonds. They won’t grade diamonds for the public. You have to submit your diamond for grading through a member jeweler. Unfortunately, those jewelers aren’t always nearby, and they mark up the cost of the service, which means that AGS grading often becomes a hassle and much more expensive for most lab diamond owners. AGS currently has a physical presence in Nevada, Israel, Belgium, India, China, and Hong Kong
IGI: Headquartered in Antwerp, Belgium founded in 1975, IGI has been around for a while and has both deep experience and relationships. They’re grading is clear and specific, and their services are convenient to access and reasonably priced, so they’ve become the most popular lab. In fact, they’re the second most well-known grading lab in the world (behind GIA).
IGI maintains a physical presence in New York, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Bangkok, Tokyo, Dubai, Tel Aviv, Toronto, Los Angeles, Kolkata, New Delhi, Thrissur, Jaipur, Surat, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and, of course, Antwerp. IGI is extremely popular across Europe and Asia. All of their international locations spread across those regions also makes them a convenient lab to get gems to.
GSI: This is a fairly new lab that is heavily used by large retail chains. They grade diamonds very quickly but have come to be known for loose grading standards. Retail chains that use them probably appreciate both their speed and their generous grading tendencies.
The BIG Differences Between GIA, IGI, and AGS When It Comes to Lab Diamonds
Each lab grades a little differently than the others. They each have their own criteria and set of standards for evaluating diamonds. For example, while GIA and IGI use a letter scale that runs from D through Z (‘D’ being the grade reserved for the most colorless diamonds) to assign a color grade to the diamonds they process, AGS uses a 0-10 scale (with ‘0’ assigned to the most colorless diamonds. This same 0-10 scale is also used to grade the cut and clarity of each diamond they evaluate. This difference in the way AGS reports their findings isn’t a problem, as long as you know how to translate the results. Click here to see an image that illustrates how the 0-10 AGS scale aligns with the scales that labs like GIA and IGI use to report on color, cut, and clarity.
GIA is the biggest name in the world of diamond grading, BUT they aren’t a good choice when it comes to lab-grown diamonds. That’s because GIA has decided not to grade lab-created diamonds the same way that they grade earth-grown diamonds. When it comes to identifying the color qualities of man-made diamonds, they provide only very general categories and terminology. For example, they may use the term ‘colorless’ to describe a diamond that falls somewhere in the D, E, F spectrum, or ‘near colorless to describe a GHI diamond.
That kind of generalization, just isn’t helpful, because an ‘E’ or an ‘F’ ISN’T colorless, and the distinction in color ABSOLUTELY WILL impact the gem’s actual value. The grading of clarity (inclusions) for lab diamonds is also much less detailed on GIA reports than it is for mined diamonds.
Today’s lab-grown diamonds can be made through two technologies, or processes (HPHT and CVD). GIA will grade HPHT diamonds, but they won’t grade CVD diamonds currently.
For all these reasons, GIA isn’t used very widely for the grading of man-made diamonds. Manufacturers and jewelers have been forced to find other providers that grade fairly and consistently.
AGS pioneered cut grading, but are only willing to grade a small variety of shapes currently. They also won’t grade most fancy colored diamonds.
As mentioned earlier, AGS only performs grading services for the approved member jewelers. For a jeweler to become an AGS member is not a fast or simple process, so it’s often difficult for AGS to be a considered a viable option—they just aren’t very accessible. Because all grading has to be submitted through jewelers that can mark up the cost of services, it’s unlikely that AGS grading will be very price competitive either. AGS is generally highly respected for their grading standard, but because of their structuring, they also aren’t very widely used for the grading of lab-created diamonds.
IGI has become the most common resource for those needing a well-known lab with a solid reputation and very detailed grading reports for lab diamonds.
What GIA, IGI, and AGS Grading Reports Cost
The cost of grading both earth-grown diamonds and lab-grown diamonds is determined by the gem’s weight. Labs typically won’t grade any gem that’s smaller than .15 carat. Grading mico-diamonds is too expensive to justify for most, and gauging the 4 C’s on a really tiny stone also proves challenging.
Grading reports include information on the measurements, carat weight, color, clarity, cut (& shape), polish, symmetry, and the fluorescence. The report can also include an inscription, comments section, report #, and a plot (or mapping) fo your gem,
IGI seems to grade the vast majority of the lab-grown diamonds that are produced around the globe. They’re used so commonly because they’re large and well known, because their rates are reasonable, and because their grading standards are respected. That’s not to say that jeweler or gemologist sings the praises of IGI (or any other lab for that matter), but well respected gemological organizations that have tested the grading results of many labs, and they’ve often been most impressed with the results of IGI, particularly when it comes to lab-grown diamonds, where GIA isn’t a reasonable alternative.
IGI Grading Fees (Full Report)
|0.15 - 0.22||$35|
|0.23 to 0.29||$45|
|0.30 to 0.45||$50|
|0.46 to 0.69||$70|
|0.70 to 0.89||$80|
|0.90 to 0.95||$95|
|0.96 to 1.45||$125|
|1.46 to 1.94||$150|
|1.95 to 2.94||$190|
|2.95 to 3.94||$290|
|3.95 to 4.94||$350|
|4.95 to 5.94||$455|
GIA’s prices are reasonable, and their grading record and reputation is rock solid, It’s only the general nature of their ‘Synthetic Diamond’ reports that keeps them from being a more viable option for grading lab cultured diamonds. If GIA ever changed their policies and started grading lab-made diamonds the same way they grade mined diamonds, they would almost certainly take over the majority of the grading done for lab diamonds too.
GIA Grading Fees (Full Report)
|Size (in Carats)||Cost|
|0.15 - 0.22||$53|
|0.23 - 0.46||$59|
|0.47 - 0.69||$64|
|0.70 - 0.99||$78|
|1.00 - 1.49||$105|
|1.50 - 1.99||$121|
|2.00 - 2.99||$169|
|3.00 - 3.99||$250|
|4.00 - 4.99||$331|
|5.00 - 5.99||$470|
Of course, grading is also available for diamonds larger than 5.99 carats whenever needed too.
AGS grading would likely cost $100 to $300 through your local jeweler (they only deal directly with approved jewelers. You can use their site and do a zip code search to help you find local jewelers (which a radius that you set) that are approved to send them diamonds for grading. You would want to call them to confirm that they’re willing to do it for you and to check on what they’re going to cost you. Of course, the total cost includes the actual cost of the lab work, plus whatever markup the jeweler wants to include on the service, so shopping several would probably be a good idea.
How Long Does it Take to Have a Lab Diamond Certified?
Diamond grading typically takes anywhere from 10 to 21 days. If you’re in a hurry, most labs will give you to the opportunity to pay an extra fee to expedite the grading process. Once you confirm the amount of the fee, and how much time the rush status should be able to shave off of your overall anticipated wait time, you can decide if it’s something worth paying for.
Diamonds are measured, studied, and plotted. They’re evaluated with a number of tools, and by a number of different gemologists. By having multiple gemologists evaluate each stone, the final grading assigned is confirmed to be accurate. All of this takes considerable time, which is why the grading process typically takes several weeks instead of several days.
How to Submit Lab Created Diamonds to a Laboratory for Grading
Diamonds can most easily be evaluated, for grading, when they’re loose and unmounted, so most labs require that the diamonds sent for evaluation come to them this way. Some labs will perform very limited testing and provide very limited information on mounted diamonds. For example, to simply find out whether a diamond is lab grown or earth mined, you wouldn’t necessarily need to unmount a diamond from its setting, but to study and report on the qualities and positions of inclusions, they would need it to be loose.
If possible, have a jeweler do a simple sketch of your diamond. They can look at it under magnification and provide a very simple sketch of identifying characteristics. The sketch would show, for example, where inclusions are located in the lab diamond. The size, groupings, and positions of those inclusions can be very unique, and a great way to identify your diamond in the future. Reputable labs are very careful with the diamonds that are sent to them, but if the lab somehow sent back the wrong diamond, the sketched map of your diamond could help you to discover the error.
Make sure your diamond is shipped through a reliable carrier and insured for its full value. The lab you choose for grading should have a site that offers a list of specific instructions to review and follow.
My Recommendation for the BEST Lab-Grown Diamond Grading Lab
Because both GIA and AGS really aren’t viable options in many cases (for reasons outlined above), and because IGI has proven so detailed and dependable in grading lab cultured diamonds, they’re my recommended lab for grading these stones.
Independent sources also validate the wisdom in using IGI. One of the largest insurance underwriters has expressed their trust in IGI gradings. They have millions and millions of dollars on the line, so it’s critical that the gradings they accept are an accurate evaluation of gem characteristics.
Rappaport is a trusted industry watchdog that researched grading laboratories and reported on their findings. They sent diamonds to be tested by multiple labs, and found that IGI grading was extremely strict, and in fact, nearly identical to GIA’s in each instance. In the final ratings, they came in only slightly behind GIA in #2 among all those tested.
In summary of their findings, Rappaport said, “It appears that some labs – such as IGI, which ranks second in the Laboratory Quality Index but fifth in the price ranking – are being punished in their pricing and that their diamonds are selling for less than what their grading standard deserves.” This means that IGI graded diamonds are, in their findings, a great value. Their grading standard is essentially on par with GIA, but IGI graded diamonds sell at a discount compared to your average GIA graded diamond—which means you get to have your cake and eat it too when you buy an IGI graded diamond!
Rappaport isn’t alone. IGI is trusted by countless manufacturers, retailers, and consumers of lab-grown diamonds around the globe.
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Once you’ve decided that a lab created diamond is right for you, you may begin to wonder where you should start searching for the right diamond and setting. Who offers the best selection, warranty, and prices? Is it better to buy you lab-grown diamond online or from a local jeweler? In this article, I’ll answer those questions and many others. I’ll help you find the best place to buy a ring that you can save big money on—AND be proud of! After countless hours researching suppliers and investigating all that they offer, I’ve found my favorite supplier. I’ll share their info below too. Hopefully, that gives you a big jumpstart and saves you time.
Buying Lab Grown Locally is a Bad Idea—Here’s Why
Hard to believe, but 30 years ago, when you wanted to buy a plane ticket, you visited or called a travel agent. Today, travel agents, exist. If you want to book a flight, you but directly from Delta, United, Southwest or others through their website, or you use a tool like Kayak, Priceline, or Hotwire to book the flight, along with the hotel and car that you might also need when you get there.
Similarly, the way that we buy diamonds is also evolving in a big way! Where we used to visit the jeweler on Main Street or in the mall to purchase a diamond ring, today we can conveniently buy from retailers that are spread across the country (and potentially around the world). The internet has revolutionized the way that diamonds and other gems are typically sold and purchased. Buying online is better for buyers for all of the following reasons:
- You have access to a MUCH larger selection of styles and materials.
- Prices are lower, because online retailers don’t need to have an expensive storefront in the mall for example. They also save on the cost of retail salespeople. These savings can be passed through to you.
- Satisfaction policies are more consumer friendly.
- There’s greater opportunity for customization of your ring.
Many traditional jewelers haven’t embraced lab-grown diamonds yet. They often talk about them as if they’re an illegitimate, fraudulent, or at least undesirable product. They’re seen as a threat to what they’ve been selling their store for years, decades, or generations. Because of this, you’re far less likely to find lab-grown diamonds in a local jewelry store. Even if you do, you’re likely to find MUCH higher prices and a very limited selection.
Because misinformation is so rampant when it comes to lab grown diamonds, I’d like to take a moment to proactively address some of the claims that you may hear as you discuss lab grown diamonds with people that are unfamiliar or have a financial interest in seeing you stick with the earth mined version.
Laboratory diamonds are visibly indistinguishable from earth-grown diamonds (even for professionals)! Not only do they look the same, but they have the same key characteristics too. They’re just as hard, and therefore, just as scratch resistant. This means that man-made diamonds can be considered ‘forever’ stones…the same way that earth made diamonds are.
Lab grown diamonds are made of carbon, just like diamonds mined from the earth. They’re both are even equally capable of cutting glass. While there are many many areas where earth grown and lab grown diamonds are identical, there are a couple of areas where they’re admittedly quite different—like price. Lab made diamonds are typically 40% to 50% cheaper than traditional diamonds that are mined from the earth. Lab diamonds are also sure to be ‘conflict free,’ meaning that they aren’t ‘Blood Diamonds.’ The creation of Lab cultivated diamonds requires an extremely educated and skilled workforce. It can’t be done with child labor or slave labor the way that diamond mining is sometimes done in some parts of the world.
Diamond mining (like mining of almost any kind) is also extremely hard on the environment and native animal populations. Lab-grown diamonds, on the other hand, are a more socially and environmentally responsible alternative.
The quality of lab-created diamonds that exists today is REMARKABLE and fairly recent. It’s the culmination of many decades of dedicated effort and recent technological advances. Knowledge of the fact that man made diamonds are ACTUAL DIAMOND, and that they’re identical to mined diamonds, in terms of look and key characteristics, is starting to spread quickly—especially among Millenials (those born from 1981 to 1996).
An annual study has been conducted for a number of years to measure movement in the sentiment toward man made diamonds. In 2018, they saw a surprising shift in the percentage of respondents that indicated that they would be open to purchasing a lab-created diamond engagement ring. Only 30% of those surveyed were loyal to earth grown diamonds. The rest (the vast majority) indicated that they would be open to buying a lab-diamond—they essentially didn’t care where their diamond came from if it looked identical, was of equal quality, and was significantly cheaper. The rapid shift of sentiment toward lab diamonds the study observed, seems to be gaining momentum quickly, as people become aware of all that these diamonds can offer.
10 Compelling Reasons to Buy a Lab Diamond Online
Purchasing online is a much better option for buying lab cultured diamonds. There are several important reasons why. We’ll address many of those below.
To visit my overall pick for best lab diamond resource for total value (price, quality, and benefits), click here. I’ll explain many of the reasons why this particular company came out of top below. Some of these benefits will be common across many online retailers, while others are fairly unique to this particular supplier.
They Offer Greater Variety:
If man-made diamonds are only a small section of one display case, how likely are you to find the diamond or ring that fits your sense of style and budget perfectly? The same is true, to some extent, for online retailers that dabble in many different areas. They have a shallow selection of many different types of jewelry. Their inventory is ‘wide but not deep’.
When you find the right company to purchase from, you’ll have a large selection of lab-grown diamonds to select from. That means that whether you want something large or small, colorless, near colorless, or vibrant, round, cushion cut, or marque, you’ll be able to find it. In addition to a large selection and incredible designs, the supplier that I like best, also offers custom designs at no additional charge! That type of complementary service is hard to find—especially when shopping for lab diamonds.
They’re Less Expensive:
Think about it, online retailers often deal in MUCH larger volumes, which can lead to volume-based discounts. They also typically have much smaller relative costs for their physical location and employee overhead. All of these savings from volume-based efficiencies and other logistical streamlining can ultimately be passed on to the customer.
They Come with a Solid Return Policy:
When purchasing from local jewelers, you’re often stuck if you change your mind after buying. The same is true of some online retailers. The supplier that I like best, will allow you to return your ring if you don’t like the way the ring looks in person when you receive it—or even if you just change your mind several weeks later, and decide to go with a different style! In fact, you can return the ring for a full refund within 30 days. Try that with a local jeweler. Once to pay for the ring, it’s typically all YOURS, and you have no option to return it.
They’re ALL Lab Certified:
Certifications from well known, and respected, labs like IGI (International Gemological Institute), GSI (Gemological Science International), and GCAL (Gem Certification and Assurance Lab) are included for all lab-grown diamonds that this supplier offers. That provides confirmation, and peace of mind, regarding important aspects of value like color, cut, clarity, and carat weight. A GIA certificate can also be arranged, if desired, but GIA reports are far less detailed when it comes to the specific color qualities and clarity information for lab-created diamonds, which is why IGI, GSI, and GCAL are typically used instead. They’re labs with grading standards that are among the strictest in the industry. According to Rappaport (an industry authority), IGI’s grading standard, for example, is on par with GIA’s.
They Offer ‘Loaner’ Rings For Your Proposal:
I surprised my wife with her engagement/wedding ring—I picked it out without her. That’s a dangerous game to play. You probably don’t have the exact same tastes as your ‘significant other.’ Your ‘it’s pretty’ could be her ‘are you kidding?’ You don’t want her to be stuck with a ring that she doesn’t really love.
We only want GOOD surprises, right? In an effort to help you nail the surprise, while still allowing your partner to pick the setting style that THEY love, my favorite lab diamond supplier offers some special temporary proposal rings that you can use to pop the big question before you fully commit to a setting style. The diamond that you purchase will be set in the proposal ring. Once your spouse-to-be says ‘yes,’ you can send the proposal ring back in and choose the setting that you want for your actual engagement (or wedding) ring. They’ll then move the diamond over and set it for you in the new ring.
When the diamond that you purchase is $1,500 or more, the proposal ring is absolutely FREE! If your diamond is less than $1,500, you’ll need to pay $170 for the proposal ring initially—but then you’ll get a $100 credit to apply toward your ring when you return it and select the setting that you want your diamond moved over to.
They Inscribe For Added Security:
All diamonds purchased through this supplier are laser inscribed along the girdle of the diamond with your certificate number. The inscription is so small, that it’s only visible under strong magnification (it isn’t visible to the naked eye). The inscription is convenient, but it’s also an important security measure.
Imagine having a diamond that gets lost or stolen. If it isn’t laser inscribed, how would you be able to positively identify it? It would be incredibly difficult. Years ago, my wife’s diamond ring was stolen by a window contractor that was working in our home. A friend of mine once found a big diamond on the floor in an international airport. Again, in situations like these, an inscription provides a way to prove that a particular diamond is yours, or to claim a diamond that’s found.
They Offer a Lifetime Warranty:
How many times have you been offered a warranty at checkout when you buy something expensive? Many jewelers sell warranties and service plans too. There are huge margins in them! Warranties show that a particular manufacturer, or jeweler, stands behind their work. You may feel lucky to find a retailer that offers a 1-3 year warranty, but the supplier that I like best offers a LIFETIME warranty. That provides real peace of mind!
They Offer Lifetime Upgrades:
Honestly, this is one of the main things that I LOVE about my go-to lab diamond supplier! When you buy your ring (or diamond) through them, you have the right to upgrade your stone whenever you’d like (and as often as you’d like) for LIFE! All you need to do, is move up to a diamond that’s at least 50% more expensive than the one you purchased from them. They’ll give you credit for your original diamond’s full retail value—you just pay the difference!
Here’s what I really love about this program, when I was a broke college student shopping for a ring, a program like this would have made so much sense! I could have purchased a conservative, but beautiful, lab-grown diamond ring for my girlfriend at the time (something I could afford without taking on a great deal of debt) and then upgraded during our future years as a married couple when we would have more money available. I could have even made the upgrading process part of our anniversary tradition (where we upgrade the stone every 5 or 10 years for example! Now that we’ve been married for 20 years, my wife would be happily wearing a pretty sizable ring if we had a tradition like this.
They Offer Additional Savings:
Accepting credit card payments comes at a real cost for retailers. When you buy through the company that I recommend in this article and choose to pay by bank wire, check, or cash instead of credit card, you’ll save an extra 2% on your order! They save credit card processing fees, and simply pass those savings along to you in the form of an additional discount. Two percent may not seem like much, but every little bit counts when you have a wedding to pull off!
Right now, you can save an additional 10% when you use the code TAKE10 at checkout, which could bring your total savings as high as 12%!
The Can Help with Special Financing:
Because wedding-related expenses pile up a little too fast sometimes, financing is also offered for those that need it. The financing is offered in conjunction with Synchrony Bank. After applying, and getting approved, they’ll let you know the amount of financing that you qualify for. Typically 6, 12, and 18-month terms are available. Even longer terms are occasionally also extended when needed.
Value isn’t just about price or quality individually, it has to do with the merger of BOTH. To find a great value, you need a have excellent quality…that costs less than a comparable quality and feature set typically costs in other places. You find that with lab created diamonds. They are an excellent value when compared to earth grown diamonds. You also find that as you explore the supplier of lab-grown diamonds that I’ve referenced in this article. They’re an organization that I trust, and that has earned the trust of thousands of their past customers as well. The value that they recognize as throughout the purchase process, leads them to refer family and friends to the organization, and to sing their praises online. If you’d like to scroll through some of those reviews to learn about the experiences of their past buyers, click here.
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