Synthetic Diamonds 101

Synthetic diamonds—what are they, are they real, and should you get one? Read on to find out everything you need to know about synthetic diamonds.

By Deanna deBara

Synthetic Diamonds Guide
Photo by Palm Beach Photography

The First Look ✨

  • Synthetic diamonds are diamonds that are manufactured in a lab by recreating the conditions that create diamonds in nature.
  • The great thing about opting for synthetic diamonds is that they're chemically and physically identical to natural diamonds.
  • Synthetic diamonds are also more affordable and sustainable than traditionally mined diamonds, but keep in mind there’ll be less variety in the final stone.

There are plenty of things you think of when you hear the word “wedding.” Maybe you think of shopping for the perfect wedding dress, asking your best friends to be in your wedding party, or throwing the most epic bachelor/bachelorette party the world has ever seen. But there’s another thing that pretty much everyone thinks of when they hear the word “wedding”—and that’s diamonds.

Diamonds go hand-in-hand (pun intended!) with both wedding rings and engagement rings. But when it comes to picking a diamond for your ring, there are a lot of choices to make, including whether you want a synthetic diamond.

Synthetic diamonds are having a serious moment; the global synthetic diamond market is projected to generate a whopping 27.6 billion dollars by 2023. But what exactly are synthetic diamonds? How are they different from traditional diamonds? And how do you decide whether they’re the right diamond for your engagement or wedding ring?

What Are Synthetic Diamonds?

Zola - Synthetic Diamonds 101 - Deanna deBara Photo Credit // Casey Durgin Photography

Synthetic diamonds are exactly what they sound like. While diamonds are formed naturally, synthetic diamonds are manufactured in a lab. Because of that, they are sometimes called “lab-grown diamonds” or “man-made diamonds.”

The biggest difference between synthetic diamonds and real diamonds is how they’re made. Real diamonds are created through a natural process and then mined from the ground. Synthetic diamonds are created by replicating the process through which diamonds are formed naturally—just in a laboratory setting.

Are Synthetic Diamonds Real Diamonds?

The biggest misconception about synthetic diamonds is that they’re somehow “fake” diamonds. But synthetic diamonds are not a stone trying to pass as a diamond (like cubic zirconia). Synthetic diamonds are real diamonds—they’re just made a bit differently from a mined stone.

All synthetic diamonds start off with a diamond “seed,” which is a tiny piece of diamond. From there, lab technicians use a process that replicates natural diamond formation, which essentially “grows” the diamond seed into a larger diamond.

So, is the process for creating a synthetic diamond different from the process of creating a naturally occurring diamond? Absolutely—but that doesn’t mean a synthetic diamond isn’t a “real” diamond. On a chemical and physical level, there’s no difference between a lab grown stone and a diamond mined from the earth.

The two types of diamonds are chemically and physically identical, so if you’re worried that a synthetic diamond is somehow less “real” or legitimate than a naturally occurring diamond, you can let those worries go. Synthetic diamonds are just as “real” and legit as any mined stone.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Synthetic Diamonds?

Since synthetic diamonds qualify as a “real” diamond, they have become a popular option for both engagement and wedding rings.

But is a synthetic diamond the right fit for your ring? Like anything else, synthetic diamonds have both positives and negatives. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of choosing a synthetic diamond over a traditional diamond for your engagement ring, wedding ring, or any other piece of jewelry:

Synthetic Diamonds: Pros

  • Synthetic diamonds have the same high-quality as natural diamonds. Synthetic diamonds are evaluated using the same criteria as natural diamonds—cut, color, carat, and clarity. They’re also graded and certified using the same diamond grading standards, so when it comes to quality, there’s zero difference between a synthetic diamond and a traditionally mined diamond.
  • Synthetic diamonds often have a lower price tag. The quality of synthetic diamonds and mined diamonds are the same, but the price tag can be very, very different. Synthetic stones are typically much more affordable than natural diamonds, with synthetic diamonds sometimes coming in at 50 percent less than a naturally occurring diamond of a similar quality. If affordability is a concern, synthetic is definitely a strong option.
  • Synthetic diamonds come in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes. Looking for a pear-shaped diamond? How about a one-carat canary yellow stunner? Or a pink radiant cut? Synthetic diamonds come in every shape, color, and size you could imagine.
  • Synthetic diamonds are both ethical and sustainable. There are some environmental and ethical issues associated with the diamond industry and diamond trade. If those issues matter to you, synthetic diamonds are a great way to get a diamond ring on your finger in a more sustainable, ethical way.

Synthetic Diamonds: Cons

Synthetic diamonds have less variability than natural diamonds. Synthetic diamonds are created in a lab under a controlled setting. Because there’s less variability in the process of creating synthetic diamonds, there’s also going to be less variability in the final product. If you’re in the market for a one-of-a-kind stone, you might be disappointed with a synthetic gemstone.

Find the Right Synthetic Diamond for You

Zola - Synthetic Diamonds 101 - Deanna deBara Photo Credit // Palm Beach Photography

When it comes to choosing a diamond, there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Ultimately, you have to pick the stone that feels right for you. But if you’re looking for a diamond that’s affordable and sustainable without sacrificing quality or selection, a synthetic diamond could be the perfect option.

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