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What are lab-grown diamonds?

Lab-grown diamonds are diamonds that were grown by scientists in a lab. They share the same chemical makeup as natural diamonds, and are optically identical. The biggest differences between natural and lab-created diamonds are how they’re made, and how rare they are.

Are lab-grown diamonds real?

Laboratory grown diamonds share an identical chemical make up to natural diamonds, both consisting of pure carbon in a cubic crystalline form. The difference between lab-grown diamonds and natural diamonds is how they are formed. Natural diamonds form below the surface of the earth over millions of years, whereas lab-grown diamonds can be created in a lab over a period of a few weeks. Lightbox diamonds are grown to match the chemical properties of a natural diamond and the finished stone is optically identical. You can find more details on how they’re made below.

"Lab-grown diamonds are now becoming a popular alternative for many people, since they can have the same beauty and properties as a mined diamond and are often more affordable"

Gemological Institute of America (GIA)

Benefits of Lightbox

How are lab-grown diamonds made?

There are a few methods used to create lab-grown diamonds. Typically, lab-grown diamonds start with a tiny lab diamond, like a seed. The seeds are placed in a chamber called a plasma reactor (in the case of CVD synthesis) or a large mechanical press (if manufactured by HPHT). Then, depending on the technology used, some combination of heat, pressure and a carbon source are used to make the crystals grow, layer by layer.

The CVD Method

CVD stands for chemical vapor deposition

Lab grown diamond seeds are loaded into a CVD reactor. Then, a mix of gasses containing carbon is added at a very low pressure. Microwave energy is used to heat the gases and generate a plasma. When the temperatures climb over several thousand degrees, the gas molecules break apart and carbon atoms bond to the seeds, growing them one layer at a time.

The HPHT Method

HPHT stands for high pressure high temperature

This method mimics the conditions under which diamonds naturally form. Large mechanical presses are used to apply extreme pressure and high temperature to carbon in the presence of a diamond seed. The seeds act as a template for a lattice of carbon to grow layer by layer over the course of a few days.

How long does it take to grow a diamond?

In nature, it takes millions of years for diamonds to form. In a lab, we can grow a one carat stone in about two weeks.

watch our video on how lab-grown diamonds are made

How do you make colored lab-grown diamonds?

One of the great advantages of lab-grown diamonds is that they can be made in an array of colors that are very rare when found in nature. This is achieved by making changes in the gas mix added to the CVD reactor combined with treatments to these stones applied at the end of the synthesis process. The process sounds simple, but it has taken our scientists thousands of hours to refine the process and create the perfect Lightbox shades of light pink and blue every time.

Lab grown vs simulants

While they may look similar, diamond simulants (like cubic zirconia) are chemically not diamonds at all. They’re completely different gems and materials. On the other hand, lab-grown diamonds are chemically the same as natural diamonds, but their creation process is sped up by science.

What is a simulated diamond?

Diamond simulants and lab-created diamonds often get mixed up, but they’re completely different. A diamond simulant is not a diamond at all, because the chemical properties are completely different. They can be made out of anything from glass to cubic zirconia. While they may look similar at first, diamond simulants aren’t as hard and don’t have the same optical properties as diamonds, so they’ll show signs of wear and won’t be as sparkly.

Lab-grown diamonds vs. Moissanite

Moissanite is a completely different gem, that tends to be less expensive than a diamond. It started out as a naturally occurring mineral, but natural supply wasn’t enough to make even the smallest pieces of jewelry. Scientists then found a way to replicate it in a lab to make it commercially available. While it might look like diamond it’s a much lower grade on color and hardness.

Lab-grown diamonds vs. Cubic zirconia

Cubic zirconia was created to be a less expensive alternative to diamonds. It’s chemically completely different, not as hard and lacks the same sparkle. It’s also not considered a gemstone because it can’t be found in nature. It’s made from powdered zirconium and zirconium dioxide, melted together and formed into a stone.

What do lab-grown diamonds cost?

At Lightbox, all our lab-grown diamonds are priced at $800 per carat. Because each batch of our lab-grown diamonds is produced to the same standard, this means we can transparently price our carat weight in a linear way. In natural diamond pricing, the price goes up exponentially when a larger weight is combined with high quality cut, color and clarity as this increases a stones rarity and value. In lab-grown diamonds, this rarity is removed, meaning we can price our stones in a more affordable way, no matter the carat weight. For a full breakdown on our pricing click below.

Our Pricing

How are lab grown diamonds graded?

Lab-grown diamonds can be graded in the same way as natural diamonds, by assessing the four C’s of diamond quality: Cut, Color, Carat, Clarity. The GIA and IGI both offer dedicated reports using the same grading process as natural diamonds, whilst also specifying their origin as lab-grown. At Lightbox we do not individually certify each stone as we believe it's unnecessary. We see one of the major benefits of lab-grown diamonds to be the ability to consistently create high quality stones, therefore we guarantee all our stones reach our quality standards without the added cost of a third party certification. You are of course welcome to have your Lightbox stone graded post-purchase for your own peace of mind.

Our Quality Guarantee

Lab-grown diamond FAQs

Different sources use different names to refer to lab-grown diamonds. For example, you might see lab-created diamonds, cultured diamonds, engineered diamonds, synthetic diamonds and even man-made diamonds. The term ‘simulated’ diamonds, does not refer to lab-grown diamonds. Simulated diamonds may look similar at a glance, but do not share the same physical, chemical, or optical characteristics. They are not as hard, and do not have the same sparkle.

Lab-grown diamonds will not appreciate in value like some natural diamonds. The cost of new stones is based on the manufacturing and settings costs, plus a brands individual added margin. The resale value is based on the cost of buying a new stone, rather than any inherent value or rarity as with natural stones.

This depends on the price you pay for a lab-grown diamond originally. As a relatively new manufacturing process, it’s reasonable to expect the cost of production to fall, and lab-grown diamonds purchased at too high of a price will lose value as similar stones will become available for a lower cost. Through our world-leading technology, we’ve already achieved a sustainable pricing model that means our stones are priced transparently at $800 a carat.

Lab-grown diamonds are now widely available online through both lab-grown diamond jewelry brands and through more traditional diamond sellers too. Lightbox can be found both online, and through our partner retailers across the US. You can see our stockists here.

In addition to the speciality lab-grown diamond brands like Lightbox, traditional jewelry brands and retailers have begun to stock lab-grown diamonds too. Our own Lightbox pieces are available from Reeds, Bloomingdales, Blue Nile and other third party retailers.

Natural diamond prices go up exponentially when a larger weight is combined with high quality cut, color and clarity, as this increases a stones rarity. There is no rarity in lab-grown diamonds as more can always be manufactured to meet demand, meaning we can price our stones in a more affordable way.

Lab-grown diamonds have the same physical properties as natural stones, so will be categorized as ‘diamond’ when using a diamond tester pen. This relies on the accuracy of the equipment used, and it being used correctly. Lower price mass-market testers from Amazon can often produce false negatives, so it’s best to consult with a specialist. Specialist equipment that goes beyond a diamond testing pen can always correctly identify the difference between a lab-grown diamond and a natural stone.

Only a specialist with the right equipment can tell the difference between a lab-grown diamond and a natural stone. All Lightbox stones above 0.2 of a carat also have a laser inscription within them (invisible to the naked eye) as a marker of their authenticity and quality.

Lab-grown diamonds make the incredible sparkle of a diamond available to more people, more often. They’re perfect to wear every day or to buy as a birthday or anniversary gift, and because they are manufactured to a consistent high quality you can be confident about buying them online.