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.