Everything you need to know about lab grown diamonds

lab grown diamonds

Lab grown diamonds are everywhere right now, but how exactly do they compare to more traditional mined diamonds? We asked the experts to talk us through it.

How are lab grown diamonds made?

Laura Chavez, founder of Lark & Berry, explains the process isn't that different to other diamonds: 'Lab grown, or cultured diamonds as Lark & Berry call them, are the same as any mined diamonds with one difference: there’s no mining involved. To grow diamonds above ground, we mimic how they grow underground. Duplicating that process makes our cultured diamonds 100% real diamonds. Gemologists cannot tell mined from grown diamonds apart, as there is nothing to tell apart.

'The two methods used to create diamonds are HPHT and CVD. Both methods involve adding heat, pressure or gasses to carbon or diamond seeds to create diamonds. These ways of growing diamonds can now be accomplished using renewable energy, which means the diamond you put on a beautiful piece of jewellery can be totally sustainable.'

Are lab grown diamonds real?

Jessica Warch, co-founder of Kimai, says the biggest misconception is that they aren't real. 'Lab-grown diamonds are chemically and physically identical to mined diamonds,' she explains.

Can a jeweller tell if a diamond is lab grown?

'Not even an expert gemologist is able to tell a lab-grown diamond apart from a mined one! The main difference is that lab-grown diamonds provide 100% transparency compared to mined diamonds which have notoriously opaque supply chains and are linked to complex and often devastating social and environmental issues, including deforestation and child labour,' says Jessica.

Are lab grown diamonds worth it?

Matilde Mourinho, founder of MATILDE Jewellery, says that it's down to the consumer to choose, however, if it's a sustainable, cost-effective option they're after, then cultured diamonds are the solution.

'We think it’s important to offer as many resources and information about lab-grown diamonds and what we do, and why we think it is the most sustainable route when it comes to purchasing diamonds, and then the choice is up to the consumer in the end.

'But the obvious answer to this question is that lab-grown diamonds are a more ethical and sustainable alternative to natural mined diamonds. They are visually, physically and chemically the same – with the only difference being how they are grown. So if we can have the same product, and be less harmful to the environment as well as the communities affected by mined diamonds, then why wouldn’t we be?' she says.

Lab grown diamonds price

If you're wondering if they're cheaper, the answer is yes. 'This is largely due to the labour and the different steps in the supply chain that goes into mining diamonds. With natural diamonds, from the exploration, the mining, the sorting, the cutting and the polishing, the jewellery manufacturers, to retail and then to the customer, there are quite a few steps in the process,' explains Matilde.

Laura concurs, adding, 'With the ability of some labs to grab excess carbon from the air and convert it into a diamond, the carbon footprint can even be negative! When it comes to the cost for the consumer, since the diamond growing process is much more streamlined and direct (no mining needed), we are able to pass along that cost effectiveness, enabling them to get a cultured diamond with the specifications they desire (colour, clarity, cut, carats) for at least 25-30% less than a mined stone.'

How to you measure the quality?

'The same way that you do with mined diamonds, using the 4 C’s: Carat weight, Clarity, Colour and Cut. The diamonds we use at Kimai are of the highest quality, technically speaking this means we focus on stones of colours DEF+ and clarity VS+' says Jessica.

Best lab grown diamonds UK

Convinced this is the sustainable way forward when it comes to diamonds? Keep scrolling to shop the best lab grown diamond jewellers in the UK.

Penny Goldstone

Penny Goldstone is the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire, covering everything from catwalk trends to royal fashion and the latest high street and Instagram must-haves.

Penny grew up in France and studied languages and law at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris before moving to the UK for her MA in multimedia journalism at Bournemouth University. She moved to the UK permanently and has never looked back (though she does go back regularly to stock up on cheese and wine).

Although she's always loved fashion - she used to create scrapbooks of her favourite trends and looks, including Sienna Miller and Kate Moss' boho phase - her first job was at MoneySavingExpert.com, sourcing the best deals for everything from restaurants to designer sales.

However she quit after two years to follow her true passion, fashion journalism, and after many years of internships and freelance stints at magazines including Red, Cosmopolitan, Stylist and Good Housekeeping, landed her dream job as the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire UK.

Her favourite part of the job is discovering new brands and meeting designers, and travelling the world to attend events and fashion shows. Seeing her first Chanel runway IRL at Paris Fashion Week was a true pinch-me moment.