A diamond is a mineral consisting of at least 99.5% pure carbon. Carbon atoms arrange in a particular lattice structure to give diamonds their strength. Diamonds are most commonly used in jewellery and are prised for their superior hardness (they are the hardest of all the gemstones making them the most durable of them all) and sparkle. Other uses for diamonds include the drill bits for many hand tools, medical and dental tools.
Diamonds are either formed naturally or grown in a laboratory.
Natural diamonds are formed in the earth’s core over millions and billions of years. In order for a diamond crystal to form, the right combination of heat, pressure, elements and host rocks must all combine in perfect synergy for it form. Through tectonic plate movements in the earth, the rough diamond crystals rise higher up from the earth’s core in order for them to be mined. Once a natural diamond has been mined and deemed good enough for use in jewellery, it is then cut and polished by hand to fashion them into the finished gems we see in jewellery shops.
Research, development and technology has allowed for this process to be replicated in a controlled laboratory and achieve amazing results. Lab-grown diamonds are formed in a special pressurised chamber that re-creates the conditions in nature to allow diamonds to form. Initially, a “seed” or “host” diamond crystal is implanted in the chamber and the combination of heat, pressure and the elements allows for the seed/host to grow into a larger crystal that can then be used in jewellery. Once the lab-grown crystal has finished growing, they are then cut and polished by hand, just like their natural counterparts. You would be surprised to know, that lab-grown diamonds are commonly formed within 4-weeks – not 4 million years!
Yes. Lab-grown diamonds and natural diamonds share the same chemical and physical properties: they both have the same hardness, sparkle, durability and light performance. Their only difference is how they are formed: one comes from the ground and the comes from a laboratory.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of a lab-grown diamond? You could significantly over-pay for them if they are not disclosed properly at the point of sale. It is hard to differentiate between natural and lab-grown diamonds – this determination is done in diamond grading laboratory with specialised testing equipment. They are much cheaper than their natural counterparts (up to 75% cheaper) because there is much less investment cost in growing them versus mining them out of the ground. Lab-grown diamonds are also an excellent way to ensure that your diamond is definitely conflict-free and blood-free. (Read more here – HYPERLINK ABOUT BLOOD DIAMONDS & CHILD LABOR). They also result in a much lower carbon foot-print on the environment because there is no mining of the earth’s soil to get to them an no harmful chemicals are used to eliminate the other rock elements that are found around the natural rough diamond crystals.
With a natural diamond, you own a piece of the earth and one of nature’s gifts that can be passed on from generation to generation. High global demand and limited supply has meant that historically natural diamonds have gained value over time. When purchasing ethically sourced natural diamonds, you are supporting human, social and economic development in the 3rd world through employment and training. Unfortunately though, despite international efforts to clean up the natural diamond industry, smuggling of conflict-zone diamonds and blending them with “legitimate” parcels still goes on. Unless the seller has a fully documented chain of custody that can be verified from the mine to the market, it is almost impossible to determine where an origin of a natural diamond has come from.
The simple answer is: it depends what you paid for it.
Like with most other items that are purchased retail, there is always the element of the sellers profit that will be difficult to retain. Typically in goods that depreciate in value (price goes down), their re-sale value is very low in comparison to their purchase price –think about old TVs, computers, smartphones, games, clothing, cars, cameras, furniture etc.
Depending on the type of diamond and jewellery you have purchased (regardless of weather it is natural or lab-grown), the re-sale value is either the scrap value of the metal and wholesale cost of the stones (less the second-hand buyers profit) or a strong retention of value (or possibly even a slight gain) depending on the stone and where you purchased it from. If you purchased from a chain store (the item was mass-produced using commercial grade quality natural diamonds), the re-sale value is going to be the scrap value. If you purchased from a high-end brand retailer and the item is in good condition, it will come down to how keen the buyer is to have a pre-loved piece of jewellery.
Traditionally speaking, jewellery was not often re-sold – it was often passed on from one generation to the next. With a rising divorce rate, it is a fair question to consider. Natural diamonds have a higher re-sale value because they cost more to begin with.