How a Gemologist Can Tell the Difference Between Natural and Lab Diamonds

Natural and lab diamonds look very similar, but there are differences at the atomic level that allow gemologists to tell them apart. In addition, most large jewelry companies and reputable jewelers that sell lab grown diamonds lab grown diamonds Sydney use a special laser inscription on the girdle to identify it as a lab created diamond.

1. Look

Despite what you might have heard, there is no way to tell the difference between a natural diamond and a lab grown one with just your naked eye. In fact, even a professional gemologist won’t be able to tell the difference without the use of specialized equipment.

That’s because lab created diamonds are comprised of the same carbon atoms that natural ones form from over billions of years, and to the human eye they look identical. They also have the same molecular structure, and are equally durable with a 10 on the Mohs scale.

But it’s important to know that there are differences on a microscopic level between lab and natural stones. Some lab created diamonds, particularly those of lower clarity grades, contain inclusions that can be seen by the naked eye. It’s for this reason that it is crucial to only purchase a lab-grown diamond that has a GIA (Gemological Institute of America) laboratory report. GIA laser-inscribes the girdle of lab diamonds with their grading report number and a statement that certifies them as laboratory grown to ensure consumer protection.

In addition, there are also many ethical reasons to choose a lab grown diamond. Lab diamonds are made with special machinery that creates the same environmental conditions of a mined diamond but without damaging any ecosystems.

2. Feel

As far as the 4Cs go (cut, clarity, color, and carat), it’s pretty hard for a gemologist to tell lab diamonds from natural ones. The biggest difference is going to be on a microscopic level, such as metallic inclusions and weak strain patterns.

That said, the vast majority of reputable jewelers offer lab grown diamonds alongside their natural options, and most lab diamonds are transparently disclosed as man-made. In fact, GIA has invested in new technology and educational seminars to ensure the public knows how to identify lab grown diamonds.

While most lab diamonds are G+ or better in color and VS2+ or better in clarity, they still range in quality just like mined diamonds. They are also still 50-70% cheaper than equivalent quality natural diamonds.

Aside from the cost and environmental benefits, many millennials and Gen Z consumers prefer lab created diamonds over natural ones for ethical reasons. They want to know their dollars are supporting companies that embody the values they value, including traceability and sustainability.

However, there are still concerns that lab grown diamonds could have a negative impact on natural diamonds and their supply chains. And while it’s unlikely that diamond production will ever completely replace the need for natural diamonds, the technology is evolving and we may see a day when both diamond sources are equally important.

3. Smell

Whether lab grown or natural, diamonds are very odorous. Because of this, a jeweler can use their sense of smell to determine the origins of a stone. This method is not foolproof as there are certain types of lab diamonds that can have odors that are very similar to natural ones. However, these diamonds have a very specific set of material issues that are easy to detect by professional gemologists using specialized equipment. These types of lab diamonds often contain unnatural color tinges from impurities and crystal structure dislocations. Ada Diamonds screens all of our lab created diamonds for these problems and doesn’t sell any that exhibit these characteristics.

On the other hand, lab created diamonds smell very much like natural ones because they’re made from pure carbon. Lab created diamonds also have a very unique chemical composition that is very different from other diamond simulants such as cubic zirconia (CZ) or moissanite, which don’t contain any carbon at all.

While a jeweler cannot tell the difference between lab diamonds and natural ones by looking at them, they can easily test them with high-tech equipment used by professional gemologists worldwide. The same grading laboratories that evaluate diamonds also evaluate lab grown diamonds to ensure they are authentic and of high quality. In fact, a CNBC reporter took an Ada diamond to multiple “We Buy Diamonds” businesses in the New York Diamond District and none of them detected that it was lab grown.

4. Look Again

Since lab grown diamonds are made using the same chemical composition as natural stones, they look exactly the same to the naked eye. However, a gemologist can tell the difference on a microscopic level, because they’re able to look for different inclusions that occur differently in natural and lab grown diamonds. For example, lab grown diamonds may have teeny tiny bits of platinum metal trapped within them from the crucible in which they were formed. Natural diamonds don’t have these kinds of inclusions, which is why they’re referred to as pure.

The main advantage of lab diamonds is that they are much less expensive than natural diamonds, which means consumers can often get a larger carat size or higher quality stone for the same price. This makes lab diamonds lab created diamonds UK a popular choice for engagement rings, especially as more consumers seek a greener alternative to mined diamonds.

As with any purchase, whether you’re shopping for a natural or lab created diamond, you should consider your budget and expectations before you make a decision. It’s important to remember that diamonds don’t increase in value, and if you are buying your diamond as an investment, it will likely be worth a fraction of what you paid for it when you want to sell it.


In contrast, natural diamonds have historically increased in value over time, because people are drawn to the story behind them and to their rarity.

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