What exactly is a lab grown diamond?

Recently there has been bantering opinions in the news about lab grown diamonds versus mined diamonds used for jewelry. What exactly is a lab grown diamond? The first thing you should know is both lab grown and mined diamonds are diamonds. Their chemical structure is identical and in their raw state, they both begin as diamond crystals. Their difference is a mined diamond is formed deep underground by exposing pure carbon to extreme heat and pressure for billions of years, and a lab grown diamond is formed in a lab by exposing pure carbon to extreme heat in a low pressure chamber. Both forms diamond crystals of varying sizes and qualities.

The next phase of a lab or mined diamond’s life are exactly the same, both mined and lab grown diamond crystals are sent to a diamond cutting facility to be cut into a finished diamond. So, we can take that part of their life story out of this post.

Many people wonder which is more sustainable, a lab grown or mined diamond? This is controversial because diamonds are expensive and both parties have large marketing budgets dedicated to convincing their customers that theirs in the most sustainable. 

So are they sustainable? Mined diamonds cannot and never will be because they are a natural resource/mineral that has taken millions of years to form and are removed from the ground. To be sustainable, they would have to be renewable, like a tree. 

The question remains, are lab-grown diamonds sustainable?

  • According to the independent agency TruCost, (part of S&P Global, a leading independent analyst in carbon and environmental data based in London), the lab grown diamond’s carbon footprint is much higher than a mined diamond’s carbon footprint. The Diamond Producers Association released the report from TruCost that backed their claim that mined diamonds indeed do have a lower carbon footprint even though diamond mining is very complex with large machinery, use of explosives and large transportation impacts. To recreate the perfect environment in a lab to create a lab grown diamond a large amount of methane and hydrogen gas is used. According to TruCost, this pushes the carbon footprint of the lab created diamond higher than a mined diamond.

Going back to the real question – which is more sustainable? The lab grown diamond wins out because it is renewable and a mined diamond is not. The word sustainable can’t be used for anything that has a mining element to it. Mining is not sustainable.

At East Fourth Street, we like to offer you a third diamond option – certified post-consumer recycled diamonds.

Their carbon footprint is even lower than newly mined diamonds because they are multiple steps away from the environmental and social impacts attributed to newly mined diamonds. They are still not definable as sustainable, but  their negative impacts are lower and there are literally billions of carats that have already been mined from our earth. I like to reuse what we have mined instead of mining new.

Reuse, Recycle and Reclaim.

Check out 3 of our designs that offer post consumer recycled diamonds.

post consumer rose-nouvous recut square post consumer recycled diamond set in 18kt Fairmined yellow gold ring.18kt Fairmined yellow gold pendant is set with a 3mm round white recycled diamond. 18" longrecycled champagne colored round diamonds in handmade sterling silver and 14kt yellow gold earrings.


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