Buying Natural Diamonds

There are many diamond alternatives that have come to market in recent years, and in some cases these ‘fake’ diamonds look almost identical to a natural diamond. One of the most important factors to consider when choosing is how will the bride-to-be feel about being proposed to with a real diamond engagement ring as opposed to a fake diamond ring? If the bride is not concerned (and some women are truly alright with diamond alternatives) there are still other considerations such as the value, durability, and benefits of a natural diamond vs a fake, or synthetic, diamond.

What are Natural & Synthetic Diamonds

A natural diamond is made from carbon and is the hardest natural known substance on earth. Natural diamonds are created over a period of one to three billion years, at least 85 miles below the earth’s mantle under natural conditions of very high pressure and high temperature. Once a diamond has been created in these underground conditions, it travels via molten rock to the earth’s surface, where it is mined, refined, and turned into beautiful jewelry or used for industrial purposes.

A natural diamond will be more durable over time than any other substance. Because they rate a 10 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness they are an ideal choice for everyday wear. Because an engagement ring will be worn every day in most cases a natural diamond is the most obvious choice. They have survived billions of years and are the most durable stone a woman could wear on her finger.

The drawback of synthetic and fake diamonds is that they are not created naturally and every process during their creation cannot mimic nature’s perfection. They are more susceptible to cracking and discoloration and none have reached a 10 on the Mohr Scale of Hardness.

Fake, or synthetic, or otherwise enhanced diamonds are not true natural diamonds as they have either been manufactured or chemically altered. An enhanced diamond has been altered and treated in order to improve its appearance. Enhancements can include fracture filling, laser drilling, and high-pressure high temperature treatment, which may result in cracks or discoloration in the future.

Synthetic and fake diamonds can include cubic zirconia, white sapphire, moissanite, zircon, rutile, spinel, and synthetic garnet. Synthetic diamonds are created with the same physical and chemical properties as a natural diamond would have but are created by man and not in nature. Fake diamonds are not made with the same physical and chemical properties as a natural diamond and are much less expensive in most cases.

Benefits & Value of Buying Natural

There are a number of benefits to buying a certified diamond for an engagement ring. The first and most important is that most women will prefer to know that the ring their future husband proposed with is in fact a real diamond engagement ring. A diamond that took billions of years to form is going to be more meaningful than one that was created in a factory that may have only taken a few weeks. The diamond itself is meant to represent the love and commitment to each other over a lifetime.

While some people believe that a synthetic or fake diamond looks just as beautiful as a natural diamond, in most cases this isn’t true. One drawback to fake diamonds is that the very process used to create them can result in future discoloration or even cracks or visible lines. The durability of a natural diamond is second to none as the strongest material known to man.

A natural diamond’s value will usually increase over time with inflation however diamonds are a product of supply and demand. The larger a diamond the more rare it is and this usually results in a good investment. Finding a diamond with perfect clarity and color is also rare which also makes for an equally sound investment. The key to purchasing a real diamond engagement ring is to make an informed decision and choose a quality stone. Natural diamonds that may appreciate more quickly in value include fancy colors such as canary yellow diamonds which are considered investment grade. If looking to make a great investment in a diamond the rarest natural diamonds are red. Pink and blue are also considered higher value in terms of appreciation.

Natural Diamonds & Certification

GIA (Gemological Institute of America) was established in 1931 and is considered to be the world’s authority on certified diamonds. GIA is a non-profit institute that ensures that every report on a diamond is accurate and discloses its origin (natural or not), treatments that may have been performed on the stone, and grades the diamond for the 4 Cs – cut, clarity, color, and carat.

GIA is the foremost authority in the diamond industry worldwide and is considered unbiased. It can be difficult to find GIA certified diamonds less than $1,000 or less than ½ carat, but buying a GIA certified natural diamond engagement ring is one way to ensure that you know exactly what you’re buying. A natural diamond is considered the hallmark of what an engagement ring should be – to symbolize an endless love between two people. A certified diamond that took billions of years to create is going to be more valuable symbolically and as an investment in the long run.

Differences Between Natural & Lab Created Diamonds

The new and improved method of creating engineered diamonds make them chemically identical to 100% natural or mined diamonds. There are a few ways to tell the difference, but these are not visible to the naked eye.

Manufactured diamonds, sometimes have laser inscriptions on them that distinguish each diamond. GIA certified natural diamonds also have inscriptions on them. If so, it's easy to tell them apart because the manufacturers tell you that it is lab-grown.

The coloration of the lab created diamond might give you a clue that it was created in a lab. Diamonds created using the old technique usually have a yellow color due to the concentration of nitrogen, which made them not suitable for use in jewelry but for many other applications. Diamonds using the new technology are usually clear with no impurities but can have a colored tinge in their fluoresence and a different sparkle than natural diamonds. This rarely occurs in nature elements such as nitrogen, hydrogen, boron, or carbon found in the earth, usually affect the color of the stone.

They are created by two different processes. Engineered diamonds are of course grown in a lab beginning with what is referred to as a seed, which is a natural diamond approximately the thickness of a human fingernail. It is placed in a vacuum chamber and is used to build layers and layers of carbon that bond to the seed and eventually form the diamond. It requires the correct conditions and temperature in order for the growth to occur. This process results in distinctive patterns that can be detected with the correct equipment.

Machinery such as the Diamond View machine is used to detect the differences between lab-grown and natural diamonds. It can cost a pretty penny, but can detect the differences in a matter of seconds or minutes. It looks at the fluorescence of the surface of the diamond. Natural diamonds usually reflect a blue fluorescence while manufactured diamonds give off an orange hue or orange fluorescence. There are other cheaper machines that can be used as well, such as the “D Screen” to test if a diamond has been treated or enhanced in order to make it colorless.

Cost Differences Between Natural & Lab Created Diamonds

Presently lab created diamonds account for approximately 2% of total diamond sales they also cost up to 35% less than natural diamonds. More than a whopping 90% of diamond engagement rings use natural diamonds. Synthetic diamonds have found a field in the industrial marketplace and have been used for many different industrial applications as they are made to last. They can withstand enormous levels of radiation they are used in engineering, medicine and in a wide range of cutting tools. Lab grown diamonds might someday find a niche in fine jewellry but it can never replace or compare to certified GIA diamonds and all the emotion, years of history, romance and love that is associated with natural diamonds.

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