What's the Difference Between A Mined Diamond and Lab-grown Diamond?

Written By Allie Perry April 19, 2024

Mined Diamonds vs. Lab-Grown Diamonds

When you think of diamonds, you probably think of mined diamonds. Naturally created over billions of years in the earth’s mantle and dug up by people who like shiny objects, mined diamonds have long been celebrated for their beauty and rarity (even though they’re not really as rare as we’ve been told). 

However, the last few decades have seen the rise of lab-grown diamonds, offering you an alternative that is eco-friendly, wallet-friendly, and conflict-free. As technology progresses, the distinctions between mined and lab-grown diamonds are harder to distinguish. If you’re shopping for diamond jewelry, it’s important for you to understand the differences, especially when it comes to quality and price. 

Learning about the two main processes for creating diamonds in labs—High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) and Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD)—can also help you make informed choices about diamond jewelry.

Are lab-grown diamonds real diamonds?

Yes. Lab-grown diamonds are absolutely real diamonds. They have all the same physical, chemical, and optical properties as diamonds mined from the earth. Both types of diamonds are made from crystalline carbon and are identical in terms of hardness, refractive index, and durability. 

The primary difference is in their origin; while natural diamonds are formed over billions of years under high-pressure and high-temperature conditions deep within the Earth, lab-grown diamonds are created in controlled laboratory environments using advanced technological processes that replicate the natural growth conditions. Because of these identical properties, lab-grown diamonds exhibit the same sparkle, fire, and brilliance as their natural counterparts, making them an authentic form of diamond.

What’s the difference in quality between mined and lab-grown diamonds?

Because mined diamonds are formed naturally over billions of years under the earth's surface through extreme heat and pressure, their long formation process can lead to a variety of internal inclusions and external blemishes. These quality characteristics are unique to each stone and are the primary factor that affects clarity. Mined diamonds are often prized for their individuality because no two stones are exactly alike.

Lab-grown diamonds are made in a controlled environment using advanced technological processes that replicate the conditions under which diamonds naturally develop. Since the controlled process can minimize the occurrence of inclusions and blemishes in each stone, the quality of lab-grown diamonds is typically very high. 

From a gemological standpoint, lab-grown diamonds are identical to mined ones—they have the same physical, chemical, and optical properties. Their individual quality of a diamond is determined by color, cut, clarity, and carat weight- the Four Cs- regardless of whether the diamond is mined or lab-grown.

What costs more: mined diamonds or lab-grown diamonds?

Because of the intensive labor, environmental depletion, and expansive supply chain involved in their extraction and distribution, mined diamonds generally come with a higher price tag. The rarity of larger and more flawless diamonds also drives up their cost significantly.

Lab-grown diamonds are usually more affordable than their mined counterparts, primarily because the production process is more contained and efficient, reducing many of the overhead costs. You can often buy a lab-grown diamond that is larger or of better quality for the same price as a smaller or lesser quality mined diamond.

How are lab-grown diamonds made?

1. High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT):

The HPHT method is one of the oldest techniques used to produce lab-grown diamonds. In this process, a small diamond seed is placed in carbon, the element that diamonds are made from. The carbon is then exposed to temperatures of about 1,500 degrees Celsius and pressures of approximately 1.5 million pounds per square inch. The carbon melts and starts to form a diamond around the starter seed. It is then carefully cooled to form a pure crystal. This method is particularly effective for producing diamonds that are colorless or near-colorless.

2. Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD):

The CVD process involves placing a diamond seed in a sealed chamber and heating it to around 800 degrees Celsius. The chamber is filled with a carbon-rich gas, usually methane, and other gases. The gases are ionized into plasma using technology similar to that of microwaves or lasers. The carbon atoms in the gas stick to the diamond seed and slowly crystallize to form a pure diamond. CVD diamonds can be produced faster and generally at a lower cost than HPHT diamonds, and the process allows for easier control over the chemical impurities, thus potentially enhancing the diamond's quality.

What’s better? Mined diamonds vs. lab-grown diamonds?

There’s no right or wrong answer, because it depends on what you’re looking for.

Mined Diamonds:

  • Pros: Unique history, often considered more authentic, traditionally hold resale value better.
  • Cons: Expensive, environmentally damaging, often associated with ethical concerns like labor practices.

Lab-grown Diamonds:

  • Pros: More affordable, environmentally friendly, ethically sourced, and offer high quality.
  • Cons: May have less resale value, perceived as less traditional or romantic.

Whether you choose a mined diamond or a lab-grown stone depends on a range of factors including budget, ethical considerations, and personal preferences regarding environmental impact. Both types offer unique advantages and come with their own set of drawbacks. 

Understanding these factors can help you make a decision that aligns with your values and desires, ensuring that you choose a gem that not only sparkles but also sits well with your conscience.

And if you’re ready to add some diamond jewelry to your own collection, click here to see what I have available for sale!



Allie is the owner and goldsmith behind Allie Perry Designs.

Learn more about her here, or connect with her on Instagram!

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