Real Diamonds vs. Lab Created Diamonds

Valentine’s day and wedding season is just around the corner and that typically means one thing…diamonds. Hopeless romantics and couples in love will probably be perusing the jewelry counters or window shopping for that perfect engagement or wedding ring. If you’re anything like me and most other women, the bigger the better! I have some savvy insight that will help your man’s wallet out and feel P.C. about his purchase.

I used to be somewhat of a jewelry snob and had to make sure everything I owned was made from “real” metals and stones. Now that I’ve wised up in my “40’s is the new 20’s” era, I own pieces that I enjoy whether they’re made out of something real or not. I have a mix of real diamonds and lab created diamonds and a plethora of other stones and gems. Although I’m not a gemologist or jewelry maker by trade – I’m a collector and know a lot about jewelry and the history of jewelry designers.

I had the savvy of acquiring a beautiful three stone engagement ring with a 3 carat center, cushion cut, lab created diamond with two 1 carat baguettes on each side of the center stone. This was at the end of 2008 (first hit of the recession) when every store was trying to get rid of inventory with crazy discounts from 70 to 75% off from already discounted items.

As a collector of bling, I couldn’t believe the lower price tag for lab created diamonds set in white gold or platinum. I was still skeptical and had to investigate before investing in my first lab created diamond piece. Usually I can find most of my answers researching online but this time I didn’t and still had questions. I needed hard facts.

I ended up speaking to several jewelers I trusted and also emailed the Gemological Institute located in San Diego for answers. Finally satisfied with all the information and validation of lab created diamonds, I got the deal of a lifetime with my upgraded lab created diamond ring.

Here’s the skinny: Lab created diamonds are identical to real diamonds. They are still diamonds, but are man-made instead of mined. Natural diamonds and lab created diamonds are chemically the same – carbon atoms in a lattice structure of bonds. Forming a diamond requires not just carbon but heat and pressure. In natural diamonds, nature supplies the heat and pressure, whereas in a lab, the lab supplies the heat and pressure.

From Wikipedia: “Although synthetic and natural diamonds are theoretically identical and indistinguishable from each other, diamonds from each of the two categories usually incorporate their own characteristic imperfections, arising from the circumstances of their creation, that allow them to be distinguished from each other.”

What about cubic zirconia? CZs are not made of carbon like diamonds. They’re made of zirconium dioxide, chemical formula ZrO2. They look superficially like diamonds but most people who know diamonds can tell with the naked eye they’re not diamonds. Got questions? Ask below and I’ll answer. Savvy shopping!

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