Lab Grown Diamonds and the 4 C’s
Are you searching for the best lab grown diamond for your budget? If you’ve ever researched how to buy natural diamonds, you already know the basics of lab diamond quality. The quality of both lab grown diamonds and mined diamonds are determined using the famous and universal 4 Cs of diamond quality: color, clarity, cut and carat weight. Understanding how the diamond 4 Cs are applied to lab grown diamonds will help you find the best lab grown diamonds for you.
Even though the quality of lab grown diamonds and mined diamonds are graded in the same way, there are few key differences. Because lab grown diamonds are more affordable and available in top color and clarity grades with excellent cuts and large carat weights, you won’t have to sacrifice quality or size to get the diamond you want and stay within your budget. You’ll be able to appreciate just how beautiful diamonds can be! Here is everything you wanted to know about the 4 Cs of diamonds and how they apply to lab grown diamonds.
Lab Grown Diamond Color Grading
The colors of diamonds, whether they are mined or lab created, are graded on the same D-to-Z scale. A D grade means the diamond is completely colorless and a Z grade indicates the diamond is light yellow, gray, or brown. The colors of lab grown diamonds are graded under precisely controlled conditions so their subtle color distinctions are visible to the trained eye. To make sure that the created diamond’s sparkle doesn’t influence the color assessment, the lab grown diamonds are placed upside down and compared to reference diamonds of each color grade. Because the differences between color grades are subtle, it’s difficult to tell similar color grades apart without comparisons. That means you can’t easily tell diamond colors apart in the real world.
With experience and improvements in technology, diamond crystal growers are able to create the best colorless and near colorless lab grown diamonds. But it’s not easy. Even in controlled laboratory conditions, the carbon tetrahedral lattice that grows into a diamond crystal can be affected by even a few stray atoms of nitrogen yielding a diamond with a bit of color. Nature also introduces a bit of randomness while the diamond crystal is growing and tiny shifts of just a few atoms can introduce some color into the diamond.
There are two methods to create lab grown diamonds, Carbon Vapor Deposition, or CVD, and High Pressure High Temperature, or HPHT. Both methods can produce a wide range of diamond colors but CVD is able to grow the chemically pure Type IIa diamonds, the most famous of which include the Elizabeth Taylor Diamond and The Cullinan Diamond. These Type IIa diamonds have virtually no measurable nitrogen and boron, making them colorless or near colorless. In lab grown diamonds created with CVD it’s even possible to apply extreme heat and high pressure to squeeze the diamond crystals into near perfect alignment, improving them so they are even more colorless.
Just like mined diamonds are more expensive in the D to F color range because of their relative rarity, lab grown diamonds in this color range are more rare because they are more difficult to grow. This means great values for lab grown diamonds can be found in the G to I colors. In the G to I color range, lab grown diamonds will appear almost colorless in everyday conditions.
When you’re selecting a diamond to be set in jewelry, the metal of the jewelry piece should also influence your diamond color choice. Diamonds respond to the colors in their environment, and with the right metal, your diamond will look bright white. When setting your lab grown diamond in white metals, like platinum or white gold, select diamond colors in the upper ranges of near colorless. For settings in yellow or rose gold, select a lab grown diamond in G to I colors since the slight color in the diamond will be less visible in contrast to the surrounding metal.
Likewise, the cut of the diamond has an impact on how much your notice a diamond’s color. With diamond step cuts, like emerald cuts, the diamonds show more color because of the larger facets. Other diamond cuts with points, like pear shapes and marquise cuts, will concentrate their color towards the angular tips.
The Clarity of Lab Grown Diamonds
Just like mined diamonds, the clarities of lab grown diamonds are graded under 10x magnification on a 11 category scale: Flawless (FL), Very Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2), Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2), Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2) and, Included (I). But unlike diamond color, which is judged only from the bottom, clarity is judged by inspecting the lab created diamond from every angle. For round brilliant diamonds, the diamond’s grading report will have the locations of the inclusions plotted so you’ll know exactly where they are located. Like a snowflake, there are no two diamonds with exactly the same inclusion pattern.
In general, when selecting a lab diamond, avoid dark inclusions in the center which are more likely to be visible. Keep in mind though, all the inclusions for diamonds graded Flawless to Slightly Included are generally not visible without the aid of a jeweler’s loupe which has 10x magnification. In the case of very large diamonds, inclusions can be more noticeable to the unaided eye.
Lab grown diamonds are grown in very clean environments and so you will find that moving up the clarity scale from SI to VVS is possible without a big impact on price. A good starting place in your search for brilliant shapes like round diamonds, oval shape diamonds, and princess cut diamonds is a clarity of VS2 and higher. For fancy shapes like emerald cuts with larger facets, start at VS1.
Cut Grading Lab Grown Diamonds
Cut is the most important of the diamond 4Cs. The cut affects how much light is reflected back to you to create what people call brilliance and fire. Sparkle is what makes diamonds the most beautiful and coveted of gems. A gem cutter’s experience reveals your diamond’s beauty, so whether your diamond is grown in the lab or mined from earth deposits, selecting a diamond with expertly cut facets should rank highly in your diamond selection. If possible, select the best cut diamond you can — even if it means selecting lower clarity and color.
At Carbon Atelier we only offer diamonds that are expertly cut, so our stock reflects this curation. We want to be sure that the lab grown diamond you select from us is dazzling!
Gem labs grade the diamond’s cut based on its proportions, polish and symmetry. The labs assign a best cut grade based on a diamond’s ideal proportions and how it interacts with light to make a beautiful diamond. Select diamonds with cut grades in ideal, excellent, and very good, and you’ll know your diamond is delivering on its full potential.
Lab Grown Diamonds and Carat Weights
Last, but not least, of the diamond 4 Cs is carat weight. All diamonds have their physical weight measured in carats. The most popular shape and weight of diamond is the one carat round which is 0.2 grams and about 6.5mm in diameter. Since the cut and shape of the diamond determines its diameter, a one carat oval shape will look bigger from above than a one carat round even though they are both the same carat weight. When seen from the side, the longer shapes are less deep than rounds. The grading report shows these measurements, and it will help you in your decision making.
When selecting your lab grown diamond you will find that as the carat weight increases, the total savings compared to mined diamonds really adds up. Compare a mined 2 carat round, G SI1 quality diamond with a lab grown diamond of the same carat weight and quality. You will find the lab grown diamond will cost about half of the mined diamond. With the savings, you can upgrade to a larger lab grown diamond without sacrificing quality. Or if you already have a specific size in mind you can select a higher quality. A lab grown diamond gets you more diamond for your money.
Lab grown diamonds are changing the marketplace and shopper preferences. The demand for two carat lab grown diamonds has grown as shoppers find that selecting a lab grown diamond gets them a bigger diamond for the same price. Paired with the assurance of quality, it’s no surprise that shoppers would prefer a lab grown diamond that is larger and better quality for less money. Lab grown diamonds let shoppers like you select the size and quality diamond they really want without breaking the bank.
Lab Grown Diamond Jewelry
Now that you know the 4Cs of diamond quality and can appreciate a fine quality lab-grown diamond, it’s time to buy the classic diamond jewelry you’ve always wanted. Carbon Atelier makes the kind of beautifully crafted classic styles you can enjoy forever at very competitive prices. Shop for lab-grown diamond pendants, lab grown diamond stud earrings and lab-grown diamond engagement rings on Amazon.