In the world of fine jewellery, diamonds have long reigned as the most coveted gemstones. Now with the introduction of lab-grown diamonds, also known as synthetic or cultured diamonds, people are questioning which one to go for.
To uncover the hidden truths behind lab-grown diamonds, we’ve turned to the experts at Diamond Design Studios (DDS), an award-winning South Australian jeweller known for their commitment to craftsmanship, innovation, and crafting the most stunning engagement rings.
DDS Diamonds has been making custom-made jewellery for over two generations, so they know how to meticulously craft a masterpiece using the finest materials.
Lab grown Diamonds, created through controlled technological processes, have garnered attention for their resemblance to natural diamonds while raising intriguing questions about their impact on the jewellery industry and consumer choices.
Before delving into the fascinating world of lab-grown diamonds, it’s essential to understand their origins and how they differ from traditional natural diamonds.
“Lab-grown diamonds share the same chemical and physical properties as their natural counterparts, consisting of pure carbon atoms arranged in a crystalline structure. However, the path to their creation diverges significantly,” says Richard Moser from DDS Diamond Design Studios.
The journey of lab-grown diamonds began in the early 20th century when various materials were used as diamond simulants, mimicking the appearance of diamonds. These simulants included leaded glass rhinestones, cubic zirconia (CZ), and manufactured Moissanite. Despite their visual resemblance, these simulants fell short in terms of durability and density, leaving a gap in the market for actual synthetic diamonds.
The first confirmed synthesis of a diamond occurred in 1953. Over time, global research and technological advancements paved the way for the creation of larger and more sophisticated lab-grown diamonds that closely simulate natural ones.
Today, two primary methods dominate the production of lab-grown diamonds: High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) and Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD). While both methods yield similar results, CVD has gained prominence for its ability to produce larger diamonds at a lower cost.
Lab-grown diamonds have carved a niche in the jewellery market, offering an alternative to natural diamonds, especially for those seeking larger stones without the substantial financial investment.
The lab-grown diamond industry has seen significant growth over the last five years in sales of larger sized stones, such as the 2 carat to 5 carat range. Natural diamonds of this size are out of reach for most consumers, so there is an appeal of lab-grown diamonds in this area, enabling customers to create stunning earrings or engagement rings within a budget.
One notable evolution in the lab-grown diamond landscape is their pricing. Approximately five years ago, lab-grown diamonds were priced around 40% less than natural diamonds. However, advancements in technology and manufacturing processes have led to cost, affecting retail prices. As technology continues to progress, further cost reductions in production are expected. Lab-grown diamonds have dropped in price by a dramatic 70% within the last 5 years.
The question is, where are lab-grown diamond jewellery prices going to go? Sales of lab-grown diamonds are likely to continue and may potentially follow similar patterns of increased production and a decrease in value as seen with synthetic sapphires and emeralds. The retail pricing of synthetic sapphires hit rock bottom a few decades ago, despite increased demand, with numerous manufacturing facilities in lower cost regions.
As for whether the cost of synthetic diamonds will follow the same pricing trajectory as synthetic sapphires is unknown at this point. If lab-grown diamond production continues to become more efficient and competitive, it will lead to further price reductions, but it is not certain if this will occur to the same extent as with synthetic sapphires. Nowadays, a one carat synthetic sapphire can be purchased for around $50, whereas a natural sapphire has increased in value dramatically over the same period.
One thing is becoming clear, the markets for Moissanite and diamond simulants are being hit hard by the advent of lab-grown Diamonds, as people who are looking for a cheaper alternative to natural diamonds are opting for lab grown stones.
“One of the fundamental issues I see with lab-grown diamonds are how they will be perceived in the future, when they will be handed down to the next generation. Prices will be pushed further down, to where the main question asked will be “is it natural or synthetic?” Richard Moser says.
Historically, natural diamonds increase in value by about 5% per year. Prices have been affected slightly due to the introduction of lab-grown diamonds, but natural diamonds will always hold their value in the long term.
As DDS and other experts navigate this evolving landscape, one thing remains clear: the allure of diamonds, whether natural or lab-grown, endures as a symbol of eternal love and timeless beauty.