Diamond Mining vs Diamond Growing: Little Known Facts

Article by Kate

The FTC has done extensive testing of earth-mined and Lab Grown Diamonds to discover they are chemically, optically, and physically identical, but now we are going to examine the differences in how they come into our jewelry shops. Both are real diamonds - which by definition is pure crystallized carbon, but we want to explore more on how they are made, the differences, diamond facts, and myths. Lab Created Diamonds will pass all tests used to confirm a pure carbon diamond, so what separates these two sparkly gems? By the time we finish answering that question we will have you convinced to only opt for Lab Grown for all your future diamond purchases- they are simply better for many reasons, and here is why.

Inspecting a lab grown diamond under a magnifying glass

How Lab Grown Diamonds are Made

 

There are two methods to grow Lab Grown Diamonds - either through High-Pressure High-Temperature or through Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD). Want to know exactly how growing a diamond works? In the CVD method, scientists start the process by cutting a small piece of carbon, known as a seed, which is then placed in a low-pressure microwave chemical vapor deposition chamber. Gases combine with electrical energy, which ignites a plasma ball causing a cloud to form in the chamber leading to carbon molecules that rain on the seed. And within 6 to 12 weeks, a rough diamond is formed! They then take the perfect beauty to be cut, polished, and graded by the same world-renowned labs that certify earth-mined diamonds. Just like with earth-mined diamonds, there will be variances in color, clarity, and carat size, and the Lab Created Diamond will be graded accordingly. Both earth and Lab Made Diamonds have one primary ingredient: carbon.

a chemical vapor deposition chamber where diamonds are created

Lab Grown vs Earth Mined Differences: Quality

 

MiaDonna Lab Grown Diamonds are indistinguishable from earth-mined diamonds, even under a microscope, according to the Gemological Institute of America. So, what makes them different then?

 

Only 2% of diamonds mined will be Type IIa diamonds, making them very rare. They contain the purest form of carbon, with either very little or no nitrogen atoms in the crystal structure. This makes Type IIa diamonds harder and brighter than your typical Type la diamonds. Type IIa diamonds were historically only owned by royalty and the super-wealthy due to their incredible beauty and high level of quality - examples are the Elizabeth Taylor Diamond and The Hope Diamond. All of the diamonds we grow at MiaDonna are the superior Type IIa, giving you the highest-quality brilliant gem with more value for your money.

diamond halo engagement ring with a lab created diamond center stone

The Environmental Impact

 

Diamond mining disrupts communities and the environment by tearing up the land in search of sparkles, whereas Lab Grown Diamonds are made safely in a lab causing no harm. In fact, Lab Grown Diamonds have 7 times less environmental impact than earth-mined diamonds. In Frost & Sullivan’s most recent report, the carbon emissions from earth-mined diamonds were 57,000 grams in contrast to 0.028 grams from Lab Grown Diamonds when comparing equal carats produced. And water? A mined diamond guzzles more than 126 gallons of water per carat, whereas Lab Grown Diamonds use just 18! Diamond growing does use electricity, but most companies are focused on renewable energies, and other ways to give back to the environment to offset any electricity use. The destruction from diamond mining to the environment, however, is irreversible.

diamond mining facility with a large open pit

Diamond Myths

Myth 1: The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) ensures that your diamond is conflict-free

 

Unfortunately, the definition for the KPCS is “a rough diamond mined in an area controlled by insurgent forces and used to fund war.” While the KPCS ensures that no money from your diamond purchase went into funding rebel war it doesn’t mean there was no bloodshed or conflict. Mining community members are brutalized, beaten, raped, or even murdered at the expense of earth-mined diamonds. Those very diamonds will be marketed as “conflict-free” because the money did not directly fund a war. At MiaDonna, we believe no diamond coming from the earth can be considered conflict-free!

 

Another problem with the KPCS is that smuggling remains a major problem. A UN panel of experts recently found that after diamond exports from the Central African Republic were banned, 24 million carats of diamonds were smuggled out of the country and mixed with other diamonds in neighboring areas to receive KPCS approval and enter the supply chain.

 

Myth 2: Lab-Grown Diamonds aren’t real diamonds

 

Diamonds are pure carbon- and it doesn’t matter whether they came from the earth or a lab. The FTC said, “technological advances have made it possible to create diamonds in a laboratory. These stones have essentially the same optical, physical and chemical properties as mined diamonds. Thus, they are diamonds.” Yes, Lab Grown Diamonds ARE real diamonds.

lab grown diamond rings

Myth 3: Diamonds are rare

 

Diamonds have been mined in such abundance that there are enough in circulation to never need to mine again. Good marketing has brainwashed us all into believing diamonds are or were rare- but the rarest gems are actually tanzanite, alexandrite, and emeralds!

 

Both earth-mined and Lab Grown Diamonds may be identical to each other when viewed under a microscope, but one has a far greater impact on the world than the other. We hope this information helps you on your way to becoming a conscious consumer. And remember- you can go bigger with a Lab Grown Diamond because they are up to 40% less than the cost of an earth-mined!