Whether you are thinking about a diamond you already own, or a future diamond you would like to own, wondering if you can tell the difference between a lab grown diamond and a natural diamond is such a great question… especially with the high-quality product we now see in lab grown stones! The quick answer is no - you cannot tell a difference between the lab grown diamond and a natural diamond by looking at them. There are ways to know which type of diamond you have, but not by simply looking at it! This article will explain what a diamond is supposed to look like, how a lab grown diamond compares, and what you can do to find out if a diamond is lab grown or natural. Really though if looks are what matter - you are winning either way!
What is a Diamond Supposed to Look Like?
Diamonds are very special gemstones for many reasons…but ultimately - we love them because of the way they look! We expect a diamond to be brilliant - to dazzle and sparkle and shine. Diamonds will easily grab attention from across the room! Very few gemstones can even come close to the vibrance diamonds produce. The reason these stones can achieve extreme brilliance, without getting too scientific, is because of their specific chemical and physical make-up (plus the way the diamond is cut). We must have these exact diamond aspects working together in order to produce those bright, captivating sparkles that we really truly love.
I think it is important to note that the problem with diamond simulants (CZ, moissanite, white sapphire), which are not the same as lab grown diamonds, is that they only imitate (or try to imitate) what a diamond looks like. But sadly, because they do not have that same chemical and physical make-up, diamond simulants can never actually compete with the stunning physical appearance of a real diamond.
How Does a Lab Grown Diamond Compare?
The good news is we aren’t talking about diamond simulants today! Here is the quick backstory - diamonds have this unique hardness (like as in the hardest natural substance on the planet) that essentially makes them ideal for the manufacturing industry. And while gem quality diamonds were never being used as drill bits or polishing discs, someone thought that engineering lab grown diamonds, with those same chemical and physical properties as natural diamonds, would be great for industrial uses. This initial thought, plus tons of hard work and ingenuity, is what eventually brought lab grown diamonds to reality!
The first lab grown diamonds were not awesome looking. In fact, they weren’t that pretty for quite a few years… but once gem quality stones started being produced it only made sense to cross over into the jewelry industry. Today, the two main methods of generating lab grown diamonds are HPHT (high pressure high temperature) and CVD (chemical vapor deposition). And, for the record, both modern manufacturing processes can produce some really nice-looking diamonds!
Let me reiterate here that lab grown diamonds have the same chemical, optical and physical properties as natural diamonds…which is the most crucial aspect in looking like a diamond! Lab grown diamonds are real diamonds, and hence indistinguishable from natural diamonds to the naked eye.
So How Can We Tell the Difference in Lab Grown and Natural Diamonds?
Honestly, it would be almost impossible for the average person to know whether a diamond is natural or lab grown when looking at it (unless you check the laser inscription on the girdle). The telling signs are going to be on a microscopic level. There are different types of inclusions that only occur in lab grown diamonds, mostly because of how they are made. For instance, there might be teeny tiny platinum metal bits trapped inside a lab grown gem because it was literally grown inside a metal crucible. Taking the diamond to a local jeweler or gemologist, who should be trained at evaluating diamonds microscopically, can be super helpful in determining if you have a lab grown stone on your hands. Sometimes it literally takes sophisticated scientific machinery to look at the atomic level of a diamond to be able to tell the difference - but it can still be done! This will require a trip to the grading lab (IGI, GIA, AGS).
The question of can you tell the difference between a lab grown diamond and a natural diamond is really a great question…it might even be one of the most important questions to ask if you are considering purchasing a lab grown stone. So, can you tell the difference in price? Yes. Can you tell the difference microscopically, or via a lab report? Yes! But can you tell the difference between these types of diamonds just by looking at them? Nope! Not even a trained eye can! If you really want to know, having a professional check out the diamond under a microscope or submitting it to a lab for official evaluation are your best bets. But in the end, a lab grown diamond is a real diamond, and real diamonds are our brilliant looking, glitzy little friends!