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Why diamonds grown in a lab are growing in popularity

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Posted at 4:00 AM, Feb 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-15 00:54:03-05

SCOTTSDALE, AZ — Buying a diamond ring for your lover is an age-old symbol of lifelong commitment. The sparkly diamond that’s long been a symbol of “forever” usually comes with a hefty price tag.

But there’s a new trend among engaged couples set to say “I do” that’s slashing the cost of that tradition, while also promising better and bigger quality, more eco-friendliness, and a clear conscience that no ethics were violated in the process.

Enter, the lab-grown diamond.

Robbins Brothers in Scottsdale offers dozens of both lab-grown and natural mined diamond options for engagement rings. Sales associate Greg Hjartarson told ABC15 that in the almost decade that lab-grown diamonds have been on the mainstream market, some people are skeptical.

Are they still diamonds? Are they fake? Are they less valuable?

“I think that there was a lot of disinformation that goes with something that’s new,” Hjartarson said. “They are optically, physically, and chemically identical to a mined diamond.”

It’s not just Hjartarson saying that either. The Gemological Institute of America even uses the same rigorous grading process with both lab-grown and mined diamonds and has done extensive research on the topic.

The way these diamonds are formed in the lab mimics how they would be formed in the earth: with lots of heat and pressure.

If you hold a lab-grown and a mined diamond next to each other, the naked eye wouldn’t be able to tell a difference, and, chemically, there is none. The big difference is the mined diamond was created over millions of years in the Earth, while the lab-grown was born in a matter of weeks by a scientist.

diamond rings
Which ring is lab-grown and which is natural mined? The left photo is natural — the right one is from a lab.

Then, there’s the financial difference. Hjartarson said with smaller diamonds in general, the cost is going to be less for a lab-grown stone compared to a mined one, making the option a more financially flexible one for some couples.

“This is a symbol of your love,” he said. “It doesn’t mean that if you spend less... you love the person less. I mean, that’s ridiculous.”

Wedding planning website “The Knot” found that in 2021, nearly one in four engagement rings had a man-made center stone.

Senior Fashion and Beauty Editor Shelley Brown said that’s up 11% in the past two years.

“We think this demonstrates that dedication to both sustainability and a more budget-conscious mindset as lab-grown diamonds tend to be both more eco-friendly and they cost about 30% less than natural stones,” Brown said.

Tena Garrubba and Gabrielle Petersen are two Valley brides-to-be who decided on lab-grown diamonds with their respective fiancés specifically for ethics and sustainability reasons, in addition to the financial ones.

“I’ve read about some human rights abuses in the diamond industry, and it just wasn’t something I was comfortable with,” Petersen said. “Just knowing that it came from a lab just made us feel a lot better.”

Garrubba and her fiancé felt the same.

“I loved the idea of the tradition of having a diamond engagement ring,” she said. “I didn’t like the ethical considerations of having a mined diamond.”

Still, some choose mined diamonds, which Hjartarson said typically comes down to tradition.

“That’s what their mother had, and that’s what they want,” he said. “It’s really opened up the choices now that people can actually make because this is such a personal, personal piece of jewelry.”