As with any significant investment, you will want to do your research — and an engagement ring is a huge investment. When shopping for lab-grown diamonds, there’s a lot to consider between the shape, setting and band to the retailers and jewelers behind them.
If you couldn’t guess by the name, lab-grown diamonds are just that: Diamonds produced in a lab using technology that mimics the conditions that create natural diamonds. The result is a sparkly rock identical to a diamond that anyone would drool over.
First introduced to the market in the 1980s, lab-grown diamonds have long received a skeptical side-eye. How could something compete with a diamond from the earth? But consumer interest has grown exponentially thanks to affordable pricing, eco-friendly technology and ethical production practices.
Nowadays, there are so many ways you can shop for a lab-grown diamond engagement ring. Online retailers, in particular, have grown in popularity. With a range of styles, shapes, production practices and customization options and overall value, you won’t be disappointed with your options.
Before you start throwing your credit card at any retailer with a pretty picture of a dazzling diamond, a few questions need answering.
Are lab-grown diamond rings real?
Lab-grown and naturally mined diamonds appear identical to the eye, with brilliant cuts and stunning sparkle in direct light. However, one is the work of billions of years while the other is grown in a laboratory — so how could they be the same?
Let’s break it down: A lab-created diamond is “grown” inside a lab using technology that replicates the natural diamond growing process. The result is a man-made diamond that is chemically, physically and optically the same as those mined from the earth.
Each lab-grown diamond gets graded on the same famous 4Cs scale as natural diamonds: cut, clarity, color and carat. The stones also match their counterparts in hardness and durability.
TL;DR: Yes, lab-grown diamonds are absolutely real diamonds.
What are the benefits of buying a lab-grown diamond ring?
Lab-grown diamonds are obviously very new to the market than naturally mined diamonds. Still, there are so many financial and sustainable benefits to choosing a lab-grown diamond engagement ring.
1. Affordable pricing
Lab-grown diamonds skip the whole mining process of natural diamonds, including miners, distributors, cutters, polishers, jewelers and retailers. Since fewer hands are involved, the production cost is much smaller.
2. Ethically sourced
The United Nations defines these natural diamonds as “those mined in areas that are not under the control of any internationally recognized government and sold to finance a violent uprising against that government.” Per the World Diamond Council, purchasing a lab-grown diamond ensures that the stone did not contribute to the violation of universal human and labor rights.
The process of diamond mining has a significant impact on the environment. Made using technology that simulates a natural diamond’s creation, each lab-grown diamond uses less energy than digging diamonds out of the ground. Many companies also use renewable energy sources, leaving behind zero carbon emissions.
Best places to buy lab-grown diamond rings
Since the world of online ring shopping can be overwhelming, we’ve selected a few of our favorite trusted retailers of lab-grown diamond engagement rings. These retailers also include in-depth FAQs that explain their production process and sustainability practices.
Once you’ve purchased a lab-grown diamond ring, make sure you receive and review its certification — just as you would with a natural diamond!
Ready to shop? Scroll down below to check ’em out!
12FIFTEEN exclusively sells lab-grown diamonds, meaning every single stone (not just the center stone) is ethically grown. Currently, many of the brand's engagement rings are made from recycled metal and have been certified by the Responsible Jewellery Council, with the number of offerings increasing every day.
Read 12FIFTEEN's FAQ page by clicking here.
2. James Allen
James Allen is widely known in the jewelry industry as a trusted authority of both natural conflict-free and lab-grown diamonds. You can shop a massive selection of diamonds in every cut imaginable—at every price point. The website also has a wildly helpful virtual service for custom-free rings.
Read James Allen's FAQ page by clicking here.
Ethically sourced and environmentally friendly, Ritani sells lab-grown diamond engagement rings as sparkly and brilliant as mined diamonds. Looking for a more specific cut? Shop the selection of over 10 cuts, including hexagonal and emerald. Ritani also doesn’t hide behind its prices. You can expect explicit details on the costs of your lab-grown diamond, including fulfillment fees and markups.
Read Ritani’s FAQ page by clicking here.
Unique jewelry with a twist is kimai's signature style. Each diamond ring here is uniquely designed and carefully crafted — all in the lab. Having grown up in the diamond-trading world of Antwerp, childhood friends Sidney Neuhaus and Jessica Warch founded kimai as an answer to the unethical practices and general murkiness of the diamond industry.
Each traceable, lab-grown diamond ring is made to order just for you. The diamonds are also set in 18K recycled gold, ensuring that the gold plating will not wear away with time.
Read kimai's FAQ page by clicking here.
If you’re on the hunt for an engagement ring, you’ve definitely seen one of Brilliant Earth’s romantic Instagram ads. While you can choose from already-made engagement rings, Brilliant Earth shines when it comes to customization. The user-friendly online diamond retailer makes shopping for custom engagement rings a breeze, with virtual appointments and try-ons.
Read Brilliant Earth’s FAQ page by clicking here.
Environmentally friendly and chic, each lab-grown diamond from VRAI is impeccably crafted, cut and polished by a team of expert artisans. VRAI’s selection includes a range of styles from trendy Toi et Moi rings to timeless classics — you can even design your own custom engagement ring.
An engagement ring from VRAI goes beyond the aesthetics: Every diamond is grown with 100% hydropower from the Columbia River and produces zero carbon emissions.
Read VRAI's FAQ page by clicking here.
7. Blue Nile
A trusted name in the diamond world for years, Blue Nile recently dipped its toes in the lab-grown diamond game in a 2020 partnership with Lightbox. Though the selection is small compared to other retailers on this list, each style is a unique showstopper. With low-overhead costs, Blue Nile lab-grown engagement rings are the most attainable without sacrificing craftsmanship.
Read Blue Nile’s FAQ page by clicking here.
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