Natural vs. Lab Grown: A Diamond Guide

February 07, 2024

Handmade diamond rings from EC Design Jewelry.

Diamonds aren't just a girl's best friend...Diamonds are EVERYONE’S best friend!

But how well do you really know your good friend? What’s the difference between natural diamonds and lab grown diamonds? 

What does 'lab grown' even mean? 

So many questions. It’s a good thing you have a trusted jeweler friend with answers! Read on to learn more about our sparkly little friend, the diamond.

Natural Diamonds

Meet the humble carbon atom!
Natural diamonds begin their journey as simple carbon atoms deep within the Earth’s mantle, which is many, many miles below the surface. Over the course of 1 billion to 3.3 billion years, give or take, these carbon atoms are exposed to immense pressure (aren’t we all?) and intensely high temperatures. This incredibly long process creates beautiful diamonds that are nearly indestructible. Simply remarkable (just like you).

Lab Grown Diamonds

Through the magic of science, we can do really cool things in a lab without disturbing the earth, like creating synthetic diamonds in a fraction of the time it would take a natural one to grow. Don't confuse lab grown or synthetic diamonds with Moissanites, they are their own class of mineral.

One process for creating synthetic diamonds is High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT). This process involves applying intense pressure and high temperature to graphite over the course of just a few days. 

Not fast enough for you? Chemical Vapor Deposition can ‘grow’ a diamond in even less time. This process starts with a natural diamond that is surrounded by natural gas in a depressurized chamber. The gas is heated with a microwave beam causing carbon atoms to form in the gas, eventually coming to rest on the base diamond. The end result is a larger stone that appears nearly flawless.

Personally, I love a funky inclusion in a diamond, but you won't find that inside nearly flawless lab grown specimens. Only natural diamonds can bring forth that magic.

Rose cut diamonds from EC Design Jewelry in Minneapolis, MN.

Now that you know the difference between natural and lab grown diamonds, which one should you choose?! 

With custom jewelry you have the ability to explore both options and we are happy to guide you through the process.

  • Are you the romantic type that likes to imagine your diamond growing deep within the earth for billions of years just waiting to find you?
  • Or are you the type who geeks out over the science of growing a diamond in a lab?
  • Let’s be honest, price is a factor too. If you want a big sparkly look without a sweat inducing bill, perhaps a lab grown diamond is for you. There’s no shame in wanting to shine!
  • But wait…I know you’re a socially conscious consumer, that’s why you’re buying from a small woman-run hand-made business!  

What about the ethics of natural mined vs lab grown diamonds?

I know, BIG topic! Too big to simply touch on here, so we will continue this very important conversation in another blog post.

Final Thoughts

There is a place in the jewelry industry for both natural and lab grown diamonds, so you should select the stone that speaks to you. No matter what type of diamond you choose, shine on and spread the sparkle - ethically, of course!

If you need more sparkle in your life, shop our in-stock Diamond Rings or check out our Loose Stone Library and Custom Jewelry process.

EC Design Jewelry prides itself on working with conflict-free, responsibly sourced stones.


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