What's real matters. Diamonds are rare, and lab created diamonds seek to challenge it. Yet are they really diamonds? This debate rages on in the diamond industry, with both experts and customers alike deciding on the whole that something grown in a lab doesn't equal a real diamond created in nature. There are a few reasons that synthetic diamonds can't emulate real ones in the ways that matter most.
1. Diamonds Form Naturally
Diamonds form over hundreds of millions of years, deep in the earth's mantle. They have to be about 100 miles below the earth's crust, and they take between 1 and 3 billion years to go through the entire cycle that brings them to the surface. During this time, they may incorporate other elements that give them unique structures and colors. Every diamond that forms is unique and has its own story: this is why diamonds so naturally symbolize love.
Lab created diamonds take several weeks in a manufacturing facility to form. That's it. There may be some additives that help to give them colors. What does that symbolize?
When customers are asked this, they invariably rate natural diamonds more highly and are willing to pay more for them. They understand that technology can't deliver the values that real diamonds represent.
2. Diamonds Are Rare
The last major discovery of diamonds was made 20 years ago. There are only a few dozen diamond mines in the world. You have to go into nature to find them, and dedicate resources to bringing them into the world.
Synthetic diamonds are created in a lab. There are as many as you make. They're common, and they don't require work or dedication to earn. Because of the intensive energy use required to form them in the lab, they don't even provide any energy savings over harvesting them from natural sites.
3. Experts Can Tell
There's a concern growing among customers that they may buy a synthetic diamond under the guise that it's real. Experts are still able to tell the difference, and this fear makes customers worry they're not getting their money's worth. Real diamonds do, after all, demand a much higher price point than lab created diamonds.
This is one reason why Gemological Institute of America grading reports are so important – especially for packets of melee diamonds. It's often common to think the customer wouldn't care, but when it's money out of their pocket, they absolutely want to make sure they're getting the right kind of diamond.
Transparency, and evidencing that transparency to customers, is of incredible importance right now.
Do Lab Created Diamonds Have a Place?
All that said, synthetic diamonds may still have a place. They can be seen as an entry into enjoying jewelry, especially as the price on lab created diamonds drops. As Bulgari's CEO Jean Christophe-Babin told Financial Times earlier in the year, smart watches are growing the market for those who want luxury wrist watches once they're adults. Those who enjoy low-cost synthetic diamond jewelry are very likely to want the real thing sooner rather than later.