Natural Diamonds vs Lab Grown Diamonds and Cubic Zirconia

Revered for their beauty, durability, and classic elegance, diamonds have been used in jewelry for hundreds of years. But natural diamonds can be costly, so over time, alternatives have become available. 

Cubic zirconia, an imitation gemstone, became commercially available in 1976 and quickly became popular. Even earlier, in 1954, General Electric created the first lab grown diamond. By the 1980s, the quality of lab grown diamonds had improved so much that they became high-quality gemstones that were readily accessible to the general public. 

Today, there remains a lot of discussion surrounding lab grown and natural diamonds. People often wonder if diamonds that are made in a lab are real. We share the story behind natural, artificial, and imitation diamonds.

What Are “Natural” Diamonds? 

Natural diamonds are made from pure, crystallized carbon. They are formed by intense pressure and high temperatures deep within the earth.

Diamonds reach the surface of the earth after they’re expelled by volcanic activity. This process takes a long time, and some natural diamonds are up to 3 billion years old.

Diamonds harvested from the earth are imperfect. A natural diamond typically has “inclusions.” These are small particles of foreign substances that remain from when the diamond was being formed.

Colorless or near-colorless diamonds are the most common, but the presence of other elements, like nitrogen or boron, may result in naturally colored diamonds. Colored diamonds can include yellow, blue, pink, and even brown — many of which are very rare and expensive. 

Our handcrafted jewelry collections showcase the brilliance of natural diamonds.

What is a Lab Created Diamond? 

Lab created diamonds grow in a laboratory rather than beneath the earth’s surface. Also known as synthetic diamonds, lab created diamonds have the same composition as natural diamonds, and can be virtually impossible to distinguish from real diamonds.

How are Lab Grown Diamonds Made? 

The most popular sizes of lab grown diamonds can be grown in as little as one month. There are two different methods that are used to create them.

High Pressure, High Temperature (HPHT) Method

This method uses specialized equipment to apply high pressure and heat to create lab grown diamonds. The equipment simulates the conditions that natural diamonds endure inside the earth.

The HPHT method can also be used on existing diamonds to improve their color grade and make them whiter.

Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) Method 

This method uses diamond seeds that are created from the breakdown of molecules of carbon-rich gas into hydrogen and carbon atoms. 

Lab Grown Diamonds vs Natural Diamonds 

Lab created diamonds are identical in chemical composition to natural diamonds, but they are grown in a laboratory rather than below the earth’s surface. You can’t easily tell them apart, so it’s necessary to use specialized equipment to determine if diamonds are natural or lab grown. 

Are Lab Grown Diamonds Real? 

While lab grown diamonds get a little extra help as they grow, they are regarded as real by geologists. The main difference is that they are grown in a controlled laboratory environment instead of deep within the earth. 

How Can You Tell The Difference Between Synthetic and Natural Diamonds?

Like natural diamonds, lab grown diamonds also have inclusions. However, the inside of synthetic diamonds can be slightly different. When viewing the lab grown diamond under specialized equipment, it’s possible for a trained eye to differentiate between the two. 

What is Cubic Zirconia? 

While they may look similar, cubic zirconia is completely different from natural diamonds. Both stones have a different chemical composition. Cubic zirconia stones are created from zirconium dioxide (ZrO2). They are flawless and colorless in their natural state, but they can be color treated to mimic the look of many popular colored gemstones. 

While diamonds are rated 10 on the Mohs hardness scale, cubic zirconia stones are rated 8.5, so they aren’t quite as hard as diamonds.

Cubic zirconia stones are typically affordable and can be a good option for those who want beautiful, inexpensive jewelry, but unfortunately, because of their lower hardness, they will only retain their appearance for several years.

CVD Diamonds vs Cubic Zirconia

CVD diamonds are grown in a lab, and they have the same chemical structure as natural diamonds that are mined from the earth, so they are quite different from cubic zirconia stones, which have completely different chemical and physical structures from diamonds.

Cubic zirconia stones are imitation diamonds that are easily identifiable and distinguishable from CVD diamonds or natural diamonds. While they do sparkle and look beautiful, they are not of the same high quality as synthetic or natural diamonds.

Natural Diamonds At Simon G. Jewelry 

At Simon G., all of our collections feature pieces that are handcrafted by our jewelers and set with high quality, natural diamonds.

Among our collections you’ll find one of a kind diamond engagement rings to elegant women’s bracelets and pendants. Let us help you find the perfect piece of diamond jewelry for any occasion.