You’re already thinking that anyone who would go to the trouble of writing an entire article about which diamond is which MUST have an agenda. Either a vested interest in selling natural diamonds or a bias toward lab-grown, right?
Well, hold on to your facets because things are about to get real.
At Jonathan’s, we offer both natural AND lab-grown diamonds, and because we love them both, we’re here to answer all of your nittiest, grittiest diamond questions. So, put on your lab coat, and let’s get scientific.
What is a diamond?
A diamond is the solid form of the element carbon with its atoms arranged in a crystalline structure…yawn…
Ok, let’s skip over the boring parts and say…
A diamond is a type of rock formed by carbon atoms under high pressure and temperature, that, when cut well, can reflect light in the most pleasingly sparkly way known to man.
But why are diamonds so expensive?
For centuries, diamonds have been a symbol of wealth, status, achievement, beauty, and even perhaps a little vanity, and as far as we can tell, all of that is still true today, which is why people still want to own them. Which, in turn, is why diamonds still carry value.
Many things affect the value of a diamond–beauty, durability, clarity, who owned it last–but surprisingly and most importantly, demand. It’s precisely because we like them so much that diamonds hold their value and can become more valuable over time.
Okay, but aren’t there cheaper diamond-ish options?
Until recently, real diamonds were only grown in the ground. People tried to mimic the glory of a diamond with materials like cubic zirconia, but it was always just that–a cheap attempt. Not a real diamond in any way.
This all changed when humans figured out how to grow diamonds in a lab. They managed to perfectly mimic the heat, pressure, and other diamond-forming conditions. The result is a stone with the exact chemical composition of a diamond grown in the ground – so identical to a natural diamond that it requires certain technology and a specialized jeweler to tell the difference.
Wow! That’s amazing! . . . but which type of diamond is more ethical?
This is one of the questions we get asked most. Which type of diamond is more ethically sourced or more environmentally sound? The truth is, there’s a lot to those questions – a lot of debate, a lot of outdated misconceptions, and a lot of personal opinions.
But first off, let’s talk straight about the diamond elephant in the room. Blood diamonds (any diamond sold by countries trying to fund war or terrorism) aren’t really a thing anymore. It’s very easy today to buy conflict-free diamonds.
But here’s where it gets complicated…
The current natural diamond industry supports millions of local workers who depend on mining for income. Take that away, and you destroy the entire economy of those towns. But there’s still the concern about how mining degrades the environment, and no matter how many safety precautions are taken, mining still puts workers in dangerous situations.
On the other hand, growing diamonds in a lab is safer, and removes the environmental concerns of mining, while creating an identical diamond that costs less. But lab-grown diamonds have their own sustainability issues. It takes vast amounts of energy to replicate the heat and pressure conditions needed.
We’re not sure one type of diamond is clearly better than the other when it comes to questions of ethics, which is why we offer both. We’re happy to talk through concerns and help each person decide which issues and solutions are the most important to them.
If both types of diamonds are essentially identical, why would I pay more for natural?
For fun, let’s use the example of a priceless painting by Picasso titled, “Woman of the Algiers.” In 2015, this stunning piece set a world record as the most expensive artwork to be sold in auction, at a price of $179 million.
Now, imagine that there was a computer with the technology to scan this painting with such exact precision that it could manufacture a perfect replica – the same materials, weight, chemical composition of the paint, frame, even the signature. Everything would look so identical that even an expert art collector looking at the original side-by-side with the replica would not be able to tell which is which.
Would you consider them to be of equal worth? They’re technically the exact same thing, right? Except for one factor…a genius named Pablo Picasso. He created the original, while a computer created the replica.
The case with diamonds is the same, except the artist is the Earth. The organized creation of diamonds out of such a chemically chaotic world is remarkable. And no lab can recreate the infinite variety and uniqueness of stones created by the vast unexplored conditions of our beautiful planet.
Now, that being said… not everyone in the world can own a Picasso. And that’s the beauty of a replica. The same beauty, the same enjoyment, just created in a different way.
Will I still be happy with my lab-grown diamond in 100 years?
If you’re still alive in 100 years, we’d love for you to let us know. But the truth is, because of the limitless possibilities and capabilities of manufacturing lab-grown diamonds, no one is certain about how they will affect the diamond industry in the future, or where their value will go. But most people don’t buy diamonds as a retirement plan. They buy a piece of jewelry out of love, to commemorate a life-changing event, to express the deepest emotions, and on occasion to save themselves from the doghouse. Just like any high-end commodity – real estate, vehicles, twinkies – the value of diamonds will fluctuate over time. But if your diamond is purchased for someone you love, the real value is the message it sends, and the memories it will hold.
What if I have more sparkle-related questions?
We hope we’ve been able to answer some of your biggest diamondy questions, but we’d be honored to continue to help. We know that buying diamonds and jewelry is a very personal, intimate choice. That’s why our ultimate goal is to perfectly assist you as you choose the jewelry that will define the most important moments of your life.
Feel free to reach out at any time!
Or stop by Tues-Sat to visit with Marc, Michelle, Mike, Josh, Leslie, or Bryan