Let's address the proverbial diamond elephant in the room- the ones grown in a lab. I have seen a lot of misinformation in my own comment sections when it comes to the truth about lab grown stones. Here's everything you need to know- and my own take on these manmade gems.
The traditional jewelry industry has been disrupted by the introduction of lab grown diamonds and gemstones. It has resulted in millions of dollars spent on ad campaigns to convince the public that natural stones are superior to lab grown, but the lab grown space has persisted in already taking up 8% of the retail diamond market (and it's not slowing down either). So what's the truth, which is superior?
Lab grown diamonds are as real as diamonds mined from the earth. Lab grown diamonds are identical to earth mined diamonds in every way, except that they are grown in a lab. They have the same chemical, physical, and optical properties as mined diamonds and exhibit the same fire, scintillation, and sparkle. I often compare lab grown diamonds to ice in your freezer versus ice on a glacier. The glacier has more history, and maybe more dirt and debris, while the ice in your freezer is more perfect and consistent, but not particularly unique. Both are still ice!
Naturally mined diamonds retain a higher resale value due to rarity, which historically was important for women dependent solely on their husbands for finances. It's not a perfect solution though. Diamond rings are like cars, once they're driven off the lot you can't expect the same sticker price on your return, should you ever find yourself selling it. Natural will always command a higher value than lab, but both will resale at less than purchase price.
All Natural Diamonds are Blood Diamonds.
In the 1990's, diamonds mined in conflict zones in Sierra Leone and surrounding areas helped fund rebel groups looking to overthrow their governments, often through the use of child soldiers. These diamonds were referred to as “blood diamonds”. The wars ended in 2002, and 80 countries agreed to adhere to the Kimberley Process, a legal document stating that diamonds in circulation come from a legitimate source. After peaking at around 4% of all diamonds in circulation, today less than 1% are believed to be sourced in conflict. Statistically, most average consumers will never see a blood diamond in their lifetime.
Some towns also rely heavily on diamond mining to fund their local economies. Diamonds can build schools and hospitals and railways. However, humanitarian and environmental concerns in their sourcing is pushing consumers to consider lab grown alternatives. This is why it's so important to know the origin of a natural diamond; to insure your money doesn't contribute to known conflicts.
So which is better?
Honestly- the market needs both. Lab grown diamonds lessen the demand for naturally mined diamonds, which can help the environment. While naturally mined diamonds become even more valuable when mined humanely. We are also seeing a rise in demand for visibly “flawed” diamonds with tons of unique inclusions, like salt and pepper diamonds. This is a gorgeous way to own a natural diamond that traditionally would be discarded in the cutting process.
It basically boils down to what matters most to you. Selecting a diamond is a personal choice, and if selected with your values in mind, you'll always associate it with the milestone or commitment it celebrates.