Synthetic Diamond vs. Real Diamond What's the Difference

For years, the choice gemstone for engagement rings has been natural diamonds. However, with growing social and environmental issues, synthetic diamonds have increasingly become the new norm.

So, can one tell a synthetic diamond from a real diamond, you may ask? Well, it’s not always that easy because to the naked eye, the two usually look quite similar.

However, there are still ways that you could use to compare synthetic diamond vs real diamond that we will discuss in a few. But first, let’s understand exactly what these two types of diamonds are.

What Is a Synthetic Diamond?

Also known as lab-grown diamond, a synthetic diamond is developed in a highly controlled laboratory environment that attempts to mimic the Earth’s natural diamond formation process.

It is created under high pressure and temperature and has typically the same optical and physical properties, crystal structure, and chemical composition as naturally mined diamonds.

Contrary to what the name may suggest, synthetic diamonds are not at all synthetic, as they have a similar molecular structure to real diamonds. They can exhibit brilliance, fire, and scintillation, just like organic diamonds.

Depending on the method used to create them, synthetic diamonds can be classified as either chemical vapor decomposition diamonds or high-pressure, high-temperature diamonds. However, unlike natural diamonds that may take billions and billions of years to form, producing synthetic diamonds may take just a few weeks.

Because lab-grown diamonds have the same chemical properties as the diamonds found in nature, differentiating the two requires specialized equipment.

What Is a Real Diamond?

What Is a Real Diamond
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Real diamond is also referred to as natural diamond and unlike synthetic diamond, this one occurs naturally.

It is formed when carbon gets exposed to high pressure and temperature, causing it to crystalize. The crystals are then transported near the surface of the earth by volcanic activity.

Only about 40% of naturally obtained diamonds are of the proper size and quality for making jewelry. As such, raw diamonds must undergo hard processing to produce a gem appropriate for commercial use.

Diamonds formed in the earth’s crust are rare, and each one is unique, just like a fingerprint or snowflake; no two have the same molecular structure. That is perhaps one of the things that make them so special. Plus they take a significantly long time to form; those mined today may have developed more than two billion years ago.

The Difference Between Synthetic Diamond and Natural Diamond

If appearance is the only thing you are concerned about when choosing a diamond, then it does not matter whether the diamond is synthetic or real. No one will tell the difference unless you tell them. However, there are some major differences that may make you think twice before making your purchase. For instance:


Despite both stones being of almost similar grades, synthetic diamonds are considerably cheaper than their earth-mined counterparts.

The difference in price is due to the limited supply of natural diamonds, as natural diamonds take a long period of time to form. There is no shortage of supply with lab-grown diamonds, and as this supply continues to go up, the price continues to lower.

The cost of man-made diamonds has been declining at an alarming rate over the past few years and there is no sign of reversing.

When buying a synthetic diamond, this is one of the factors you should take into account. The same stone that you buy for $ 2, 000 today may be half this amount in just three or four years. A synthetic diamond may, therefore, not be the best choice if you plan to resell the stone in the future.

Market Value

In reality, the value of diamonds drops as soon as you make your purchase. However, while mined diamonds will usually retain around 60% of their original value, synthetic diamonds will lose a huge percentage of their value, and it will be impossible to make any good money from them in the future.

It is also important to keep in mind how the price of synthetic diamonds and real diamonds change over time. As the cost of lab-grown diamonds falls, real diamonds are always rising in value because of their limited supply.

As such, your man-made diamond will almost be worthless compared to a natural diamond of the same grade and quality.

But given that none of the two diamonds retains a hundred percent of its original value, when choosing an engagement ring, it will all boil down to what you prefer and makes you happy. So, would you prefer an expensive real diamond or a cheaper lab-created version that leaves you with extra money for your honeymoon?


For the most part, both synthetic diamonds and natural diamonds look similar to the naked eye. If you purchase a ring with a lab-created stone, it is almost certain that nobody will know that it is not a real diamond.

There are times, however, that lab diamonds may contain some very small flaws that may not be present in mined diamonds of the same grade. Nonetheless, it is very rare for anyone to notice these inclusions unless they are using a magnification tool.

In almost all cases, synthetic diamonds will have the same shine and sparkle as real diamonds. So, if your goal is to get a diamond that looks pretty, a man-made diamond would be a pocket-friendly option. You can get a bright stone without necessarily having to go lower on the clarity scale.

Why Is Lab Diamond Production More Popular Than Natural Mining?

Why Is Lab Diamond Production More Popular Than Natural Mining
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Because, sadly, mined diamonds have been found to have an immense impact on the environment. Over the years, diamond mining has resulted in environmental devastation among other harsh humanitarian issues.

Irresponsible mining, for instance, has caused severe land damage that has led to things like deforestation, soil erosion, and displacement of local communities because of the scarcity of natural resources.

But that is not to say that mined diamonds are essentially unethical. However, it is fair to reason that lab-created stones offer more in terms of environmental sustainability than natural gems.

Also, although there are no more civil wars resulting from diamond mining, the diamond industry is still carrying out unfair practices like forced labor, human rights violation, child labor, and dangerous working conditions.

But some reports claim that diamonds pulled from the earth are actually better for the natural environment than lab-grown diamonds because the latter involve a carbon-intensive process, which can be bad for the environment.

All in all, there seems to be no common ground just yet on whether synthetic diamonds are, in fact, more ethical and sustainable than mined diamonds.

Should You Buy Synthetic Diamond or Real Diamond?

Should You Buy Synthetic Diamond or Real Diamond
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In all honesty, it is totally up to you. Since both synthetic diamonds and real diamonds have advantages and disadvantages, a decision this big will ultimately boil down to what makes you happy.

We can argue that natural diamonds have a higher value than man-made diamonds, but when we look at the price and environment sustainability front, lab diamonds seem to hold all the cards.

So, is it ethical to invest in natural diamonds knowing the devastation its mining causes to the environment?

On the other hand, will it make any financial sense to invest in a diamond that can’t give you any substantial cash back later in life?

How you answer these questions can help you decide whether to buy a lab-grown diamond or a real one.

Some people will be more inclined to the natural diamonds because of what diamonds themselves represent. The word ‘diamond’ is Greek for ‘unbreakable’. It is due to the stone’s rarity and strength that it is considered the ultimate symbol of love and commitment. A natural diamond can be passed down to subsequent generations without losing too much of its value.

There are others who don’t see the need for buying expensive natural diamonds anymore. Lab diamonds are cheaper, have the same chemical properties as real diamonds, and are just as pretty. Case on point; what is the purpose of buying a pricy natural diamond while you can get a similar stone for almost half the price?

Well, looking at both arguments, we can see that each type of diamond has its pros and cons. Choosing the best for you will, therefore, depend on what you hope to achieve and how much you wish to spend.

Even though diamonds should not generally be considered an investment, if you are looking for a stone that will likely retain its value throughout its life, go for a real diamond.

If you are strapped for cash, we recommend opting for synthetic diamonds. You may be able to get a beautiful stone that would otherwise be priced relatively higher on the mined diamond’s scale. Just keep in mind that you may see your synthetic stone on sale for half if not quarter its current price in the future.

Now that you know how a synthetic diamond differs from a real diamond, which one do you think is worth buying and why? Let us know in the comments.

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