There are so many advantages to buying a man lab created diamond engagement ring, but earth mined diamonds are definitely more traditional.
So, why buy a lab created diamond engagement ring? Man made diamond rings are just as durable and beautiful as the earth grown variety. Their color, clarity, and sparkle are identical. These diamond types can’t be visibly distinguished-even under magnification, so they provide an easy way to save money without feeling like you have sacrificed anything.
Still not sure? Keep reading! I’ve compiled a list of the 14 top reasons to choose a lab cultured diamond for your engagement or wedding ring.
If you’re looking for and engagement ring, I feel your pain! I’ve been there. You want something really nice, but costs from your wedding and honeymoon are going to add up fast, so you can’t spend too much. When you walk into a jewelry store, you may START by looking at their cheapest rings, but that’s never where you stay. Soon, you’re justifying a beautiful ring you can’t afford because they offer financing, and hey, you only get married once (ideally), right?
Before you walk in a traditional jewelry store, catch the diamond fever, and buy something you can’t afford and may regret, read through this article and then seriously consider a man made diamond instead. If you ultimately go that direction, you’ll never regret the decision.
Without further delay, here are the 15 top reasons to buy a lab created diamond engagement ring:
1. Several Thousand Dollars Could be Better Used Elsewhere
If you’re like most people, you probably have a number of places that several thousand ‘extra’ dollars could be put to good use.
A recent study of state-by-state engagement ring spending found that the national average for engagement rings in the US is $6000. The average cost in California is over $10,000! If you were able to get an equivalent lab created diamond ring for about one-third the normal cost, that means you’d save $4,000 to $7,500 that you could put toward something else. What would you do with that kind of extra money available to apply somewhere else? Here are a few initial ideas for starters:
- Upgrade your honeymoon
- Save a down-payment for home
- Buy a second car, or a more reliable car
- Pay down student loans
- Pay down other forms of debt
- Start a business
- College fund for a future child
- Put money in savings or investment accounts
Another option, might be charitable donation. Imagine how much good you could do donating several thousand dollars to a worth cause that you believe in!
2. Because No One Can Tell Anyway
Believe it or not, man made diamond making technology has advanced to the point that they’re visually indistinguishable from an earth grown diamond. Amazingly, not even top gemologists and jewelers can tell an earth grown diamond from a lab grown diamond by sight. Even under magnification, they can’t tell the two apart! If professionals can’t distinguish them, what chance is there that your friend and family can? Nil.
My own feeling, is that you shouldn’t be ashamed to wear a man made diamond anyway. They aren’t ‘fake’ diamonds—they’re actual diamonds that come to us through a different channel. Friends would likely be jealous after seeing your ring and realizing just how little you paid.
If you WANT others to think your lab diamond is a mined diamond, you’re in luck, because they will. Your diamond will look no different from the, far more expensive, earth grown diamonds that others are wearing.
3. Because Lab-Grown Diamonds are also ‘Forever’
One of the most significant advantages that diamonds have over all other gems and manufactured stones used for engagement rings and wedding rings, is its hardness. Diamond is the hardest natural material on earth.
Mohs Scale of Hardness is a tool used to communicate the relative hardness of various minerals. It’s a 10 point scale where 1 represents the softest material, and 10 represents the hardest. Actual hardness doesn’t evenly scale between numbers. The scale just illustrates order of hardness (which materials are capable of scratching other materials).
Diamond is scored at 10. Sapphire is considered a hard stone, with a rating of 9. What’s interesting, is that diamond is approximately 4 times harder than Sapphire! Why should you care? Because hardness equals scratch resistance—and scratch resistance equals durability.
Because diamond is so hard, it’s considered a ‘forever’ stone. It’s something you can wear everyday, and then pass down to future generations. What’s really important for you to realize, is that lab grown stones are also rated 10 on the scale. They’re just as hard, and in some cases harder, than diamonds that formed below ground!
Obviously, the fact that diamonds are so scratch resistant, doesn’t mean that they’re impossible to scratch, so you shouldn’t tempt fate by dragging you ring across brick walls or anything.
4. Because You Don’t Want ‘Blood’ on Your Hands
A great deal of violence and suffering is used to bring some of the world’s diamond supply to market. The diamonds brought to us this way, are referred to as ‘Blood Diamonds’ or Conflict Diamonds.’
The 2006 Leonardo DiCaprio flick Blood Diamonds helped shine a light on this human rights issue that many, diamond wearing, people were completely unaware of. Radical groups often take control of diamond mines and use the profits from the diamonds they produce to arm themselves and fund campaigns of war and terror against other tribes, groups, and governments.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the suffering goes further, because their laborers are often slaves, that are being forced to work and produce in order to avoid pain or death. If they don’t work, or aren’t productive in their efforts to find diamonds, these slaves can be beaten or killed. I’ve seen pictures of people that have had their hands or arms cut off by these groups as punishment for various things. It’s horrific!
Despite efforts to stop the flow of Blood Diamonds into international markets, they’re still ending up in jewelry display cases around the globe. A conflict diamond looks no different than all the diamonds that surround it in the case. At this point, they’re impossible to effectively keep out of our system because these groups are so resourceful in side-stepping restrictions and regulation through smuggling or other means.
I very much doubt that many, if any, jewelers would carry blood diamonds knowingly, but they get infused into legitimate channels and are indistinguishable. These diamonds show up in our malls and on main street. The owners of those shops often fully believe, and would represent, that all of their diamonds are conflict free, but in reality, they can’t be sure.
It’s sad to think that the item you use to honor and celebrate your love, may have been brought to you through a great deal of pain and suffering. In an effort to make sure they aren’t unintentionally giving financial support to the groups that bring conflict diamonds to market, many wealthy individuals that could easily afford earth mined diamonds have decided not to purchase them.
If you love the look and symbolism of diamond, you don’t have to do without, in order to avoid accidentally buying a conflict diamond. Lab created diamonds provide all of the benefit, but none of the guilt. It one way to ensure that suffering and slavery wasn’t part of the history of your diamond.
5. Because you can go WAY bigger
When my parents got married, my dad bought my mom a tiny diamond ring. I’m not sure the carat weight, but it wasn’t much. That diamond was all he could afford at the time, and my mom was still really proud of it.
Lab created diamonds weren’t viable options when they got married in the early 1970’s, but if they had been, dad could have gotten a much bigger ring for the same amount of money!
There are 4 main drivers of diamond value. They’re known as the 4 C’s:
- Carat Weight
The most expensive diamonds are phenomenal in all of those areas. To save money, we often have to make sacrifices in one, or more, of those areas. For example, dad sacrificed on carat weight. He chose a diamond that was small enough to meet his budget. Another alternative, could have been getting a larger diamond that sacrificed on color or clarity instead.
Because lab created diamonds are so much less expensive than earth formed diamonds, you don’t need to sacrifice as much in each of the four areas outlined above, in order to hit your target number. That means that you could get a much larger diamond, get better coloring, a better quality cut, greater clarity (fewer inclusions), or some combination of those factors without going over budget!
Remember, you’re not sacrificing ANYTHING to get more. You’re still getting an actual diamond—just one that came to market through a different channel than the more expensive versions.
6. Because Fancy Colors Are Affordable Too!
Clear diamonds are timeless, but colored stones are quickly growing in popularity for both engagement and wedding rings. Pink diamonds are especially popular ring now, but you can find diamonds is a huge range of colors, including yellow, purple, blue, green, orange, red, black, brown, gray, and other variations.
Many people feel an affinity for a particular color. Looking at the right shade, just makes them happier or more energized. That’s a big part of the allure of colored diamonds, but they’re also great for the bride that doesn’t want a ring that’s just like what they see everyone else wearing. They can be one component of the unique qualities that make your ring really fit your sense of style and personality.
7. Because Resale Values on Diamonds Really Stink
Diamond marketers like to portray diamonds almost as a storehouse of value—or an investment. In reality, you’re likely to take a financial beating when you try to resell your diamond ring. Several great pieces have been written by journalists over time about the fallacy of looking at your diamond ring as an investment.
Realistically, you can expect to lose between 50 – 70% when you sell. Why? There are a number of factors at play, but two major reasons, are that you can’t pay retail and expect to resell at retail prices too. No jeweler (including the one you bought from) or pawn shop will be willing to give you anything remotely close to retail for your ring.
They wouldn’t even give you wholesale prices for it. Why would they pay you wholesale prices in cash, when their suppliers will give them whole prices on terms. You have to sell well below wholesale prices for a business to be willing to pay cash for your ring.
The other factor is trust. It’s too bad, but there are a lot of dishonest people that will take advantage of others for a profit if they can. You’d have a really hard time selling your ring for a decent amount on sites like Craigslist. Many people worry that you’re going to cheat them in some way. Big spenders also don’t shop for rings on Craigslist (bargain hunters do). They buy from desperate people (like most pawn shops) and pay as little as they can get away with.
Knowing that you’ll lose if you try to resell ANY kind of diamond, it makes a lot of sense to minimize your total costs, because you minimize your exposure at the same time. For sake of example, let’s look at two rings. The lab created option is $2,500, or the identical earth created option is $8,000. If you purchase the earth grown diamond and then have to later resell it for some reason, you might only be able to recover 50% of its value. That leaves you with a $4,000 loss!
If you purchased the man made diamond and later had to resell at 50% of its original value, you would end up only losing $1,250. Even if you couldn’t resell that ring AT ALL (unlikely), you’d still come out ahead, with only a $2,500 loss.
The lab created ring gives you all the beauty and function of the more expensive ring, but also limited your downside exposure (risk).
8. Because Mined Diamonds are a HORRIBLE Investment Vehicle
A justification trap that’s easy to fall into, is that we might reason that we aren’t really “spending” $10,000, for example, we’re investing it. We may believe that the diamond ring we purchase will actually go up in value over time. Maybe it will, and maybe it won’t—but it’s a horrible investment either way in my opinion.
The price of mined diamonds has been kept artificially high through careful regulation of supply. If diamonds are held back and released slowly enough, the supply doesn’t outpace demand. Unregulated supply could lead to MUCH lower prices. If prices fall to the point that diamonds are affordable for all families, then they’re no longer seen as a status symbol and lose desirability for many.
This is a hypothetical situation, but what happens if man made diamonds are adopted and embraced to the point that diamond suppliers have to lower their prices to compete? As technology improves, the cost of lab cultured diamonds could get even more out of line with the present cost of earth created diamonds. At what point will extra cost demanded for mined diamonds just to too much when compared to a lab diamond? Again, they’re both diamonds with the same sparkle, look, durability, etc, so would the price of mined diamonds be sustainable if they were 90% more expensive than lab diamonds? I don’t think so.
In my opinion, mined diamond companies are going to need to overhaul their business model at some point. But competing based on price is bad news for anyone that’s relying on diamonds as an investment. We’ll see what happens in coming years. But without question, there are many safer and more productive places to park your financial resources, for growth, than diamonds.
9. Because You’re an Independent Thinker
Ok, let’s be honest. We’re ALL controlled to some extent by marketing messages, but occasionally, some of use snap out of the marketing induced hypnosis long enough to question why we’re buying the things we’re buying or doing the things we’re doing. Often times, marketers shape our appetites and opinions.
Cut and polished diamonds are pretty gems, without question, but have people always exchanged them as they got married? No! Not until cleaver marketers (being paid by diamond suppliers) told us that diamonds were a symbol love and success that should be an expected part of marriage.
The same marketing machine has been playing up the term “Synthetic” in relation to man made diamonds. They’ve loved calling them ‘Synthetic Diamonds,’ because they know full well that the typical person equates the word synthetic with fake. It conjures an impression of something that looks like a diamond, but is made of plastic.
It’s that false impression that lead the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) to update their guidelines for diamonds and gems which essentially says that man made diamonds are not ‘synthetic’ and shouldn’t be referred to that way because of the misimpression that it leaves people with. They found that a lab diamond is a diamond in every sense—it just has a different origin than an earth grown diamond. That origin needs to be clearly disclosed, for the sake of clarity, but it doesn’t make it fake or ‘synthetic.’
In order to buy a lab created diamond, you need to be able to pull yourself out of the grip of marketer’s continual messaging to see that there’s absolutely no good case for spending 50% to 75% more for an otherwise identical gem, simply because they had to wipe dirt off it before cutting.
10. Because Frugal couples stay married longer
Marketers would have us believe that big diamonds are romantic. That they somehow equate to the quality, or depth, of our love. They also want us to think that large diamonds mean that we’re successful and worthwhile. Subconsciously, may people are trying to buy a sense of self-worth in the jewelry store. They’re afraid of being judged or rejected if they don’t get something that’s acceptable in the eyes of society.
If the insinuated association between the value of a ring and the quality of the love were valid, then Hollywood would have marriages that never end. There are some pretty large and expensive rings that are devoted to some pretty short-term marriages.
Researchers at Emory University actually found evidence for an opposite trend. They found that the less couples spent on rings, the longer they stayed married. They saw the same association with overall wedding expenses. Those that spent less than 2000 on their ring stayed married longer. Those than spent under $1,000 on there overall weddings stayed married the longest.
Based on the findings of these researchers, making a more frugal choice for your engagement ring and wedding ring doesn’t jeopardize your relationship— it actually improves your chances of staying together based on this study!
11. Because Rings Get Lost, Stolen, and Broken
It makes you sick on multiple levels when you lose a diamond engagement ring, but it does happen. It could get lost, stolen, or broken. My wife once had hers stolen by a window contractor that was working at our house. We contacted the company, they confronted the employee, and we ultimately got the ring back. That’s a happy ending that’s pretty rare.
Recognizing that rings can get lost in a variety of ways, it’s smart to limit your exposure. Insurance is one way to do that, but insurance comes with insurance premiums. Another way to limit your exposure, is by limiting the cost of your ring as much as possible.
Lab created diamonds make it possible for us to get the size and style we want, without spending the large amount that the style would demand, with an earth grown stone. As we talked about earlier, we limit our downside significantly when we get a man made diamond for 50% to 70% less. You could essentially buy up to 3 rings with lab grown diamonds over time…and still spend less than you would on one earth grown diamond.
12. Because They Can Be Made in JUST 6-10 Weeks—AMAZING!
I recently read an article that droned on-and-on in a really sappy way about how earth formed the diamond over 3.5 million years, and so that’s the only gem that says true love, blah, blah, blah…
I found myself thinking, ‘are you kidding me?’ You’re saying that man made diamonds aren’t very cool because a lab just cranked them out in a matter of weeks while the earth has been working on their diamonds for millions of years. I see the opposite. Science and technological advances have made it possible, for the first time ever, for man to do in just 6 to 10 weeks, what it took the earth up to 50 million years to do! That’s incredible!
We aren’t talking about a shiny piece of glass that looks a lot like a diamond—we’re talking a made entirely of Carbon, glass cutting, incredibly durable, super sparkly, diamond. I think it’s also amazing that man can build HPHT machines that can apply the kind of intense heat and pressure needed to mimic natural formation conditions well enough to manufacture an above ground diamond!
13. Because You May End Up With a Lab Made Stone, Even If You Don’t Intend To Buy One
Lab grown diamonds looks so indistinguishable from mined diamonds, that they’re now sometimes being unintentionally sold as mined diamonds in some cases. There are frequent reportings of what were supposed to be mined diamonds testing as man made. Often the jeweler that sold the ring was also in the dark.
Several really large diamonds costing hundreds of thousands of dollars each were just discovered to be man-made. They were sold to sophisticated buyers, that just couldn’t tell without high tech testing. In that case, the diamonds had a counterfeit GIA certification report and engraving apparently as well.
The way I see it, if you pay man made prices and accidentally get an earth grown diamond (which isn’t likely), you’re far better off, than if you pay earth mined prices and get a man-made version instead.
14. Because Lab Created Diamonds Are More Environmentally Friendly
Mining is almost never ecologically friendly. Massive amounts of earth are moved for every diamond found. That disruption can destroy habitat and displace all sorts of wildlife. Rivers and streams sometimes have to be dammed up or diverted in the name of mining and profits.
Mines are often abandoned and left exposed when mining companies are finished with exploiting the resources of the area. Open pits sometimes scare the face of large parcels of land, leaving a safety hazard for those that remain in the area. Not only are mines dangerous to potentially fall into, but they also commonly fill with water over time and become ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes that can carry terrible disease to the area.
Run off and landslides can also be an issue that’s unaccounted for once many mining operations have taken all they can from the earth in a given area.
What if Man Made Diamonds are Still Too Expensive? What Else is There?
Moissanite is the non-diamond material that’s closest to diamond in appearance, durability, and other qualities. Quality Moissanite can be purchased for $300-$400 per carat typically. While it’s not as hard as diamond, Moissanite is a very hard stone. In fact, it’s even harder than Sapphire.
If Moissanite is outside your reach, you could also look into White Sapphire. On the Mohs Scale of hardness, White Sapphire rates an impressive 9. Again, way softer than diamond, but harder than nearly every other gemstone option in existence.
If They’re so Similar, Why Use Terms Like ‘Lab Created’ at All?
Since man made diamonds are so much less expensive than earth grown diamonds, it would bother them a lot if they paid earth grown prices for a man made product. Also, since some people are wanting a feeling of exclusivity and privilege when they purchase an earth-mined diamond, they would certainly want to know the origins of their stone, and retailers should forthright with that information.
Can You Get Certifications and Grading Reports for Lab Diamonds?
Yes, absolutely. People often go to a source like IGI (International Gemological Institute) instead of GIA for man made gems, because they issue the same kind of grading for lab created stones and earth mined stones. At this point GIA still has some differences in how they grade and report on the two types of diamond.