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July 07, 2022

What is a lab-grown diamond?

Becky Waldron

For centuries diamonds have been the epitome of beauty and prestige, the pinnacle of jewels. De Beers’ ‘diamonds are forever’ campaign in 1948 leveraged their luxuriousness, making these jewels even more of a must-have.  

In the ‘90s, there became an uncomfortable paradox of the diamond – a jewel known for love also became known for harm.  

Could there be a way to own one of these precious and gorgeous jewels, without being weighed down by the humanitarian and environmental costs? 

AdobeStock 442252261

The emergence of innovations such as lab-grown diamonds showed that indeed, there is. 

Lab-grown diamonds are providing conscious consumers with the choice they deserve, hammering in a mindset we at Skydiamond strongly align with; it’s not about giving up the things we love, it’s about finding better ways to go about them. 

What are lab-grown diamonds?  

A lab-grown diamond is exactly what it says; a diamond grown in a lab. While lab-grown diamonds are becoming more popular and prevalent, the first genetically engineered diamond was created back in 1954.  

Perhaps a much less desired or even considered option in the ‘50’s, a lab diamond has identical physical properties as natural diamonds - i.e. thosesourced from the earth. Growing diamonds in a lab essentially replicates the process in which natural diamonds are formed deep below the ground, with sustainable processes in mind. 

How are lab created diamonds made?  

Naturally, diamonds are formed deep underground. With a combination of pressure, heat and time, diamonds crystalise in the earth. It takes the ground-shaking activity of a volcanic eruption to edge these jewels closer to the surface. This is where they are usually then dug up. 

To grow diamonds, these same conditions are required. Through plasma heating, a dose of pressure, and electrical energy, a lab diamond can form. Requiring an initial diamond ‘seed’ in which to grow, these above ground diamonds take around 2-3 weeks to fully form.  

Intrigued? Find out more on how our sky diamonds are made.  

Are lab grown diamonds more ethical? 

One of the main reasons why lab-grown diamonds are becoming a more favourable option for consumers is because of their reputation as being more ethical.  

Yet, there is still some controversy around these lab-created jewels about how ethical they really are. Below we’ll look at some reasons why lab diamonds are more ethical and, in contrast, why they might not be considered a wholly sustainable choice, either.

Protecting the earth 

Diamond mining has traditionally been destructive to the earth, with miners having to dig thousands of feet into the ground to extract them. It’s not just the surrounding ground that is affected, but diamond mining also contaminates soils across a large area, pollutes surrounding rivers due to sediment run-off, and destroys biodiversity in the process*.  

Without the need for this, lab-grown diamonds are undeniably better for the environment in this respect.  

*See the latest Imperial College London Consultants report for a more in-depth exploration on the environmental impacts of diamond mining. 

The second largest man-made hole in the world, the Mir mine - in Russia, where 30% of diamonds are still mined today - is a product of diamond mining and is 1,722 feet deep and 3,900 feet wide. Where you source diamonds matters. Engineering diamonds helps to protect the earth, preserving habitats for humans, animals and wildlife.  

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Water supplies

Another flaw in diamond mining is the extent to which it pollutes and exploits water supplies. Mining diamonds from the earth is water intensive because a vast amount is needed to release the diamond from its host rock. The debris then gets into the surrounding water supplies.

While water is required for growing a diamond in a lab, the requirement is much less than with traditional diamond sourcing. Lab-grown diamonds are more ethical and environmentally friendly as they don’t pollute water supplies.

Social responsibility

One of the biggest issues within the diamond industry is the poor conditions that workers are subject to. Blood diamonds are renowned for their role in the forced labour of vulnerable and disadvantaged people. [ED1]

Lab-grown diamonds are conflict-free, providing peace of mind that workers are not harmed in the process. [GU2]

However, there has been some controversy sparked around lab-grown and their role in not contributing to the livelihood of workers in diamond mining areas.

In an article in The Guardian, concerns were expressed over lab-grown diamonds and their impact on artisanal miners saying that they “disfranchise the same communities that consumers are concerned for – and it comes at a moment when traceable, ethically mined gems are more accessible than ever.”

Essentially, they are saying lab diamonds disempower the people that they are trying not to harm. [ED3]

There’s no doubt that lab-grown diamonds are better for the environment than earth-mined diamonds, but it’s always worth being mindful of where praise or disapproval is coming from, though, knowing those that are marketing ploys and those based on objective information.

Energy requirements

Due to the energy needed to replicate the process of forming a diamond, some argue that lab-created diamonds have a higher carbon footprint than diamond mining.

It’s true that a lot of energy is required to engineer loose diamonds; something handled differently by different companies.

While some use fossil fuels to power their diamond growing process, others strive to use cleaner forms of energy, contributing to a completely sustainable diamond. Take Skydiamond, for example, our diamond creation process is powered by the sun and wind, using only certified green energy from Ecotricity, the UK’s greenest energy provider. [GU4]

Are lab-grown diamonds real diamonds?

This question is asked frequently about lab-grown diamonds and, to answer simply, yes, lab-grown diamonds are real diamonds.

Diamonds grown in a lab are structurally, anatomically and chemically identical to diamonds found naturally in the earth.

Sky-sourced and lab-grown

A lab-grown diamond is just as legitimate as those mined from deep beneath the ground. While there’s some controversy over lab-grown diamonds, they are a step in the right direction towards creating more sustainable ways of living while still enjoying the things we love.

At Skydiamond, we source our carbon from the sky, removing toxic CO2 and releasing cleaner air than what we took. For sustainable engagement rings, ethical jewellery or a guilt-free loose diamond, our beautiful selection won’t disappoint.

The rarest jewels on earth, sourced from the sky and released exclusively in infrequent ‘diamond drops’, a sky diamond is what the future of jewellery looks like – a better, more beautiful jewel for diamond lover

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