​Cost of Lab Created Diamonds vs Natural Diamonds

Are you ready to rock? You’re set to buy your first diamond, and budget is an issue.  You’re considering buying a lab created diamond. You’ve heard that they are chemical, physically and optically identical to real diamonds, and can cost as little as 40% of the price of a natural one.

Your plan is to look around and find the biggest bang you can get for your buck, natural or lab-created.  But once you start your search, things get confusing, and you notice that diamonds are not all created equally

Looking at the world wide web for the price of a one-carat diamond, you’re probably not going to find one definitive answer. That’s because there is no set price of a one-carat diamond. You may see a one karat diamond for about $1,179 and another of the same size for $16,500.

It’s the same to do with lab created diamonds. The price is directed at its quality. Therefore, you might find a very low-quality real diamond that matches the price of a high-quality lab created one. Believe it or not, sometimes size is the only thing that matters.

However, when you break it down, with all other things being equal, you’ll find that the lab created diamond is always the better deal.

In this article we will discuss:

  • The 4C’s: Carat, Clarity, Color, and Cut
  • Shopping for a Natural Diamond
  • Shopping for a Lab Created Diamond
  • The Breakdown: Lab Created Diamonds vs. Natural Diamonds
  • Lightbox Diamonds  

The 4C’s: Carat, Clarity, Color, and Cut

If you’re not a diamond expert, the 4C’s may sound foreign, but when it comes to buying a diamond, a little more of an, “in-depth,” understanding is required.

The Four C’s Diamond Quality is the universal method used to determine the quality of any diamond anywhere in the world, lab created or natural. They also have a large impact on how the diamond is valued. Here’s a little run-down on the 4Cs and how they impact a diamond’s worth.

Carat is the first and most familiar and easily understood factor in assessing diamond quality. It refers to the size of the diamond. In general, the more carats a diamond weighs, the bigger it is, and the more it is worth.

Next comes clarity. In basic terms, clarity refers to how clear the diamond is. When a diamond is grown or created in a lab, the high pressure and temperature conditions cause flaws to develop in the diamond. The more flaws a diamond develops, the less light the diamond is able to reflect, and the lower the value of the diamond becomes.

The GIA Diamond Clarity Grade Scale is the standard measure of diamond clarity. The highest quality gemstones are flawless (FL), or very slightly included (VS). The lowest quality is included. Included diamonds are not preferred by most customers and can be found very affordable, even at relatively large sizes.

Color has to do with the whiteness of the stone or lack thereof. During a diamond’s formation, different chemicals can leak in and affect the diamond’s color, leaving a yellowish tinge. Colorless diamonds fetch the highest prices. The GIA rates the color of a diamond on a scale of D-Z, with D being close to colorless and Z indicating a yellow tone. Most diamond sellers will not sell diamonds below a K rating because of their lack of consumer appeal.

The last C is cut. The way a diamond is cut also affects its price. The shape of a diamond and the way it’s cut are both responsible for its luminosity, sparkle, and brilliance. Even if a diamond has perfect clarity and color, a poor cut can make it appear dull. Many experts believe that looking for a diamond with the highest grade of cut is the best way to maximize your budget. A well-cut diamond will literally outshine a poorly cut one, despite other quality discrepancies without raising the price.

Surprise! There’s actually a fifth C, and that’s certification. Certification is the first step in making sure the diamond you are buying is quality. If you’re looking to spend at least $1,000 dollars on your diamond, make sure the diamond has earned a certificate from the GIA or AGS laboratories. Then you know you’re buying an honest diamond.

So, how does the process of buying a diamond actually look and why does it make sense to buy a lab created diamond?

Shopping for A Natural Diamond

Putting this information into practical use, do you have the budget down? Got a few ideas of what to look for? Good! Now, let’s go shopping. We want to give you a little look at what you can expect when shopping for a diamond.

Say you’re shopping for a one carat round shaped diamond.  Let’s take a look at the Blue Nile Company first. Blue Nile is a reputable diamond company and one of the most trusted names in the online jewelry diamond business. All their diamonds are GIA graded and come with grading reports, so you’ll receive a pretty transparent breakdown on the specific characteristics of the rock you’re buying.

  1. Take the Blue Nile One Carat round diamond.  It’s certainly beautiful, and the details are close to impeccable. Its cut is ideal, and its color rating is a D. A diamond of this color quality is quite rare. It’s also very slightly included, which means it has near perfect clarity. What about the price? The price of this diamond is $7,642 per carat, diamond only.  Let’s look at another option.
  2. Ritani Diamonds is another well-respected diamond vendor. It too sells a similar round one-carat diamond. The cut is very good, the clarity, like the Blue Nile, is very slightly included, and like the Blue Nile it too rates a D in color and is also GIA certified. The Ritani sells for $7,862, diamond only.
  3. Yet another well-reputed vendor is the James Allen Company. James Allen has a one carat round diamond for only $5,750.  The picture on the website dazzles the eye, but on closer inspection, it is slightly included, and its color rating is an I.   

Are you beginning to see how diamond buying can be complicated? The three diamonds are all of the same sizes and may look the same on first inspection, but when the 4Cs come into the picture, the price difference makes sense.

Shopping for a Lab Created Diamond

Now, let’s look at some lab created diamonds. Like real diamonds, lab created diamonds are also evaluated on the 4C’s rating system. Their value also varies by the quality of their color, carat, clarity, and cut.

According to Mining.com, as of March 2018, the average price of a one-carat lab created diamond was $4,350.

We wanted to get a feel for what we could expect from one of these averagely priced diamonds in terms of the 4C’s.

Ada Diamonds is a company known for its eye clean lab created diamonds. They offer near colorless, very slightly included diamonds for $3,500 to $4,000 dollars. A natural diamond of that quality would cost closer to $6,000. The James Allen diamond is a good example and a good value for what it is.  

We were also curious about what $4,000 could get us in terms of a lab created diamond. We found a 1.00-carat round lab-created diamond on Brilliant Earth. It has a clarity of VS1, an ideal cut, and a G color. In terms of quality, it was very close to the Ritani and Blue Nile natural diamonds. Thus, it would be safe to say that it would have run somewhere between $7,500 and $8,000 in value and the natural diamond market.

The lab created diamond on the Brilliant Earth website was priced at $3,850. Sounds like a steal. Are you catching the positives of buying a lab created diamond?

Over at the Diamond Foundry, we found a real stunner. This 1.33 carat was near colorless and very slightly included. However, with an ideal cut to maximize brilliance, we could see this diamond was more than capable of holding its own against even the most flawless and colorless diamond. In fact, this perfectly proportioned diamond possessed a rare quality held by less than 1% of all diamonds.  This is a perfect example of what some might call a steal.

But what if $7-$8,000 was well within your budget, should you just go for the natural diamond?

We were curious about what a $7-$8,000 dollars diamond translated to in lab-created terms. The Blue Nile natural diamond was nearly colorless and had good clarity. What would the same amount of money buy us in the lab created sector?

The first thing we found out that 7K could get you in terms of a lab created diamond was a bigger diamond. While one carat real diamonds go on the average for $6,150, you can get a 1.69-carat lab created diamond of similar quality for $7,000 on Brilliant Earth. Not only is the one we found generous in size, but it also had a VS1 clarity and an F color and a super ideal cut. At a slightly cheaper price and a 69% bigger size, we think that’s a pretty fair deal.

We also found that with $7K + you could get a really gorgeous lab created diamond. When we looked at the Mia Diamond loose diamond price chart, we were kind of shocked to see there was a one carat round diamond that listed for $7, 694, that is until we found out it was a fancy deep pink lab created diamond! The cut was very good, and it was only very slightly included. We think if you’re going to make the investment, go big or go home, and go lab created.

The Breakdown: Lab Created Diamonds vs. Natural Diamonds

So, now that you have your options, you’ll need to make a choice.

For somewhere between 7K and 8K, you can get:

  • 1 carat Blue Nile natural diamond (color D, ideal cut, VS1 clarity $7,642)
  • 1-carat Ritani diamond (color D, ideal cut, VS1 clarity, $7,862)
  • 1.69 carat Brilliant Earth Lab created Diamond (color F, super ideal cut, VS1 clarity, $7,000)
  • 1 carat Mia Lab created diamond, (fancy deep pink, good cut, VS1.)

When you take away the word lab created it’s a no-brainer. With all other things being about equal, the price of The Ritani and Blue Nile diamonds make them the less desirable choices.

Now, let’s look back at what we can buy in the $4-$6,000 price range.

  • 1 carat James Allen natural diamond (color I, excellent cut, VS2 clarity, $5,750.)
  • 1 carat Brilliant Earth lab created diamond (color G, ideal cut, VS1 clarity, $3,850)
  • 1.33 carat Diamond Foundry Lab created stone (color I, ideal cut, VS2 clarity, $3,950, rare quality held by less than 1% of all diamonds.)

Here again, take out the phrase lab-created and you’re looking at three diamonds of with a significant price difference and similar characteristics. The deciding factor is how much the words natural diamond mean to you. Are they worth sacrificing over $1,000? How about over $3,000?  Lightbox Diamonds are a newly developed company that are making the cheapest and most no-nonsense lab created diamonds on the market.

Lightbox Diamonds

If cut, clarity, and color seem like a bit too much to deal with, there is one company taking three of the c’s out of the equation and that’s Lightbox Diamonds. Lightbox Diamonds is a lab created diamond company that charges by the carat and a one-carat diamond is always $800, clarity, color, and cut notwithstanding. They reason that they make stones every day of the week and because every stone they produce is the finest you can get, carats are the only deciding factor.

So far, Lightbox is the best deal we have found on lab created diamonds yet, but they are a relatively new company, and it has yet to be seen how it will be received by the public. However, if Lightbox catches on, it could be the wave of the future in diamonds and another option you may want to consider taking a look at.

So, you’re ready to rock, and you could have a pretty rocky road ahead of you, but hopefully, this has helped inform you along your journey. You could cut out a lot of time searching and comparing by starting with lab created diamonds.

What do you think? Would you do the extra work of comparing natural diamonds to lab created ones after you know how much more affordable the lab created ones are? What do you think of Lightbox Diamonds? Are they taking things too far or are they the wave of the future?

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