Do a diamond's origins matter that much? We have come to a point where scientists can create diamonds in the lab that are virtually indistinguishable from mined diamonds. If you're contemplating buying this lab-grown gem during your engagement ring hunt, here are a few things you should know:
It's not cubic zirconia. Everyone's familiar with cubic zirconia, which is known to imitate the look of a diamond but does not have the chemical makeup of one. Gems that mimic the look of diamonds are classified as diamond simulant. Others that go under the simulant category include moissanite, quartz, and glass.
You won't be able to tell the difference between a lab-grown diamond and a mined diamond. If you go to the legitimate sources, you'll find that their gems are essentially the same as mined diamonds. The gems have the same physical and chemical properties as mined diamonds. The proper names for these diamonds are laboratory-created, lab-grown, or man-made diamonds.
It's cheaper. Although the price varies on different diamonds depending on the shape, cut, carat, clarity, and color, president and CEO Stephen Lux of Gemesis Diamond Company, a producer of lab-created diamonds, says, "Generally speaking, Gemesis lab-created diamonds retail for approximately 20 to 30 percent less than mined diamonds." Lux gave sample prices of what you can expect to see at Gemesis — a 0.50 carat can range from $500 to $2,500, while a 1.00 carat can go from $2,000 to $8,000.
The drawbacks. The main drawback seems to be the limits to the size of the diamonds, perhaps due to the technology and equipment of the producer. Gemesis sells colorless diamonds in sizes ranging from 0.50 to 1.50 carats, but it does have bigger sizes for colored diamonds. Another negative is the unromantic notion that the gem is created in a few days vs. taking millions of years to form.
Where to buy. Currently, the leader in the lab-grown diamond industry seems to be Gemesis. You can order diamond jewelry on its website, or you can also opt to order loose stones.
To all ring shoppers, here's a basic guide to buying an engagement ring if you have no clue where to start.