One of the most common questions for buyers in the market for an engagement ring is “should I get a natural diamond or lab diamond?” This is a very important question as the difference between a lab diamond and a natural diamond can be thousands of dollars or over double the diamond size for the same budget. Most quality lab diamonds are nearly indistinguishable from natural diamonds, so they seem like the better choice right? Both yes and no, there are a few things you should consider before pulling the trigger on a lab diamond right away. Today we will break down the advantages and disadvantages of both natural diamonds and lab diamonds and explain why one could be a better choice than the other.
Are Lab Diamonds Real Diamonds?
Yes, both natural earth diamonds and lab diamonds are made of a solid form of carbon. The only difference between the two is that lab diamonds are created in a lab, while natural diamonds are created in the earth.
Lab diamonds can have some small variances in aesthetic compared to natural diamonds in the form of boron impurities, which is unique to the lab diamond manufacturing process. These boron impurities can give a lab diamond a blue hue, which is rare to find in natural diamonds that are created in the earth. Only select lab diamonds will have boron impurities and it will be noted on the diamond report. Quality lab diamonds with no blue hue will look identical to a natural diamond.
Pros and Cons of Natural Diamonds
Natural Diamond Pros
- Natural diamonds are traditional in the sense that they have been the standard choice for engagement rings and wedding bands for many generations.
- Natural diamonds cost more, which gives them a sense of rarity and prestige to some owners.
- Natural Diamonds AKA earth diamonds are created in the earth, which is intriguing to some potential buyers. Buyers sometimes love the idea that it can take millions of years for a diamond to form naturally in the earth.
Natural Diamond Cons
- Natural diamonds are very expensive and go up in price rapidly once you pass one carat.
- Natural diamonds are often sold with lower clarity, color and cut grades. They are so expensive that consumers will often times buy a less appealing natural diamond simply based on price, which leaves them with a below average performing diamond.
- Very well graded natural diamonds do exist, but their cost increases quite quickly.
Pros and Cons of Lab Diamonds
Lab Diamond Pros
- Lab diamonds are physically the same as natural diamonds with the only difference being the process in which they created. (manufactured in a lab vs. in the earth). Both are pure carbon crystallized into an isotropic 3D form.
- Quality lab diamonds can look identical to natural diamonds.
- Lab diamonds can cost approximately 40%-80% less than natural diamonds of the same size and grading. The amount saved depends on the size, where the larger the diamond the larger the savings in most cases.
- Lab diamonds are often times found with better clarity and color grades on average compared to natural diamonds.
Lab Diamond Cons
- Lab diamonds are rather new and the idea of a lab diamond is often misunderstood by those not aware that a lab diamond is an actual diamond. The term lab diamond can be mistaken for other types of stones like moissanite or cubic zirconia. This is clearly not the case, but others who don’t know better may make this common misconception.
- Lab diamonds can have what is called “blue nuance” or “blue hue,” which will be noted on the diamond grading report. This is a side effect of the manufacturing process and occurs in some HPHT lab diamonds. This should be avoided as it creates a diamond with a blue hue that is not commonly seen in natural diamonds.
Do Lab Diamonds Hold Their Value? Am I Going To Lose Money On A Lab Diamond?
The common argument for “natural diamonds versus lab diamonds” is that natural diamonds are a better investment as they hold their value, while lab diamonds become worth very little after you buy them. There are many things that are wrong with this argument, but it does hold some truth.
Yes, natural diamonds are more expensive and there is a larger secondary market for them. That being said, the price you paid for your natural diamond is not the price you will get when you try to sell it. If you bought a one carat $7,000 natural diamond and went to sell it few years later you could likely get $3,000-$4,000 for that same diamond. End result, you will be out $3,000 to $4,000 even with a secondary market willing to buy your diamond.
If you purchase the same size and quality lab diamond you will likely spend $2,500. Now that you have purchased the lab diamond, it is true that it would be rather difficult to sell that lab diamond on the secondary market (not impossible, but certainly more difficult.) Let’s say you are only able to sell it for $500 to a local shop. End result, you’re out $2000 because of the high depreciation of the lab diamond.
So which buyer lost more money in the long run? The natural diamond buyer. Just because natural diamonds have a better secondary market and they won’t depreciate as much, doesn’t mean that you will get all of your money back. Lab diamonds have a cheaper purchase price upfront, which even with harsh depreciation still results in less of a loss than a natural diamond of the same size.
Keep in mind, if you are deciding between purchasing either a lab diamond or natural diamond with the same budget (say $10,000 for either), than yes the lab diamond will depreciate more and result in a larger loss if sold.
Lab Diamond vs. Natural Diamond Depreciation
What is “Blue Hue” or “Blue Nuance” and why should it be avoided?
Some lab diamonds will suffer from “blue nuance” or “blue hue,” which is a boron impurity that occurs in the lab diamond manufacturing process. This will result in your diamond having a blue tint that can look unnatural compared to natural diamonds. While blue hue diamonds are still beautiful, if you’re trying to get the most natural lab diamond possible it should be avoided.
If a diamond has “blue nuance” or “blue hue” it will be noted in the grading report for the diamond in the notes section.
Most blue hue lab diamonds will be discounted as it is not a desirable trait for a diamond to have. If you’re trying to fit a specific carat weight of diamond into a limited budget, a blue hue diamond can be a good option as it will be discounted in price. To the untrained eye, blue hue is often times so subtle that many won’t notice it. This is especially true when there is no other diamond to compare it to (for example in a solitaire engagement ring).