More shoppers are saying "I do" to a lab-grown diamond engagement ring. In 2022, lab-created diamonds accounted for nearly 10% of diamond sales, and their popularity is growing exponentially. Two factors account for the rise in lab-grown diamond sales—price and provenance.
"Lab-grown diamonds are less expensive than mined diamonds, which means you can get a larger—typically one to two carats larger—diamond," explains Nicole Wegman, CEO of Ring Concierge and an accredited fine jeweler with the GIA. "Many clients also want a more thorough understanding of the diamond's origin, which can be tougher to track with a natural diamond."
A lab-grown diamond is chemically, aesthetically, and physically identical to a natural diamond. The only difference? One is formed over millions of years and mined from the Earth, while the other is created in a controlled environment under more sustainable conditions.
Budget-conscious and socially-conscious couples account for the rise in demand, but is a lab-grown stone worth the investment?
If you're wondering if a lab-created diamond is real, you can rest assured. "A lab-grown diamond is not a diamond simulant like cubic zirconia or moissanite," explains Dr. Sally Magaña, a Gemological Institute of America (GIA) research scientist. "Laboratory-grown and natural diamonds have essentially the same physical and chemical properties. Plus, a lab-grown diamond has the same sparkle and fire [as a natural diamond]."
To help you pick your perfect lab-grown diamond engagement ring, we researched the market, interviewed experts, and tested lab-created diamonds from the most popular jewelers.
Ready to shop? Keep scrolling to see a few of our favorite rings.
Brilliant Earth Secret Halo Engagement Ring
Shop now: Brilliant Earth 2-carat Secret Halo engagement ring; $6,710
Brilliant Earth offers an extensive collection of lab-grown diamond engagement rings with countless customization options. We love this Secret Halo style, featuring a two-carat round center stone, set atop a hidden halo of diamonds on a petite band.
Ritani Toi et Moi Engagement Ring
Shop now: Ritani Toi et Moi engagement ring; $995
Since you'll save so much money when you opt for a lab-created diamond, opt for a double stone style like Ritani's stunning Toi et Moi (that's French for "You and Me") ring. The setting holds two Asscher cut diamonds, symbolizing the union of you and your partner.
VRAI Signature Emerald Engagement Ring
Shop now: VRAI 1-carat Signature Emerald engagement ring; $2,560
VRAI’s sustainably-created diamonds are made in the brand’s zero-emission foundry in the Pacific Northwest with 100 percent hydropower from the Columbia River. VRAI’s collection of lab-created diamond engagement rings and other fine jewelry pieces caters to the modern minimalist. Brides who love dainty bling will especially gravitate towards the brand's Signature Emerald engagement ring, which pairs an emerald-cut center stone with a pavé-studded band.
How are lab-grown diamonds created?
According to Dr. Dr. Magaña, there are two main processes for creating gem-quality laboratory-grown diamonds. "Many laboratory-grown diamonds today are produced by chemical vapor deposition (CVD) in which a carbon gas, typically methane, along with hydrogen flows into a chamber where the gas molecules are split apart by microwaves," explains. "The reactor chamber typically operates at about 1,000 degrees Celsius and under vacuum. These molecular fragments migrate to a cooler section of the chamber and deposit as solid carbon. These carbon atoms stack on top of each other gradually making the diamond larger and larger."
"The other method—high-pressure, high-temperature or HPHT—requires, as its name suggests, a high pressure of about 50,000 times the atmospheric pressure of earth at sea level and temperatures of about 1400 degrees Celsius. It uses graphite as the carbon source and this high-pressure method approximates the growth conditions that a natural diamond experiences while growing within the earth. For both methods, a small laboratory-grown diamond is required to start the process. This seed diamond functions as a 'blueprint' that the carbon uses as a guide when being added to the growing diamond crystal."
What are the main differences between lab-grown and natural diamonds?
"Laboratory-grown and natural diamonds have identical physical traits," says Dr. Magaña. "Therefore, whether a diamond is natural or laboratory-grown, there are not many differences regarding what you will see." She explains that the major differences are more intangible. "Laboratory-grown diamonds are often produced in a factory within the last few years, while natural diamonds were created millions to billions of years ago and many miles deep within the earth. They survived a tumultuous journey to the surface and often have their own story of creation."
How much do lab-grown diamonds cost?
While many lab-grown options are less expensive than natural diamonds, you can still pay a significant amount for a piece, depending on the quality of the stone and its setting. And, like a mined diamond, the value of a lab-created diamond largely depends on the four Cs: color, cut, clarity, and carat. Lab-grown diamond engagement rings can range from under $500 to over $100,000, depending on the size and quality or the stone and the setting type.
Meet the Expert
Dr. Sally Magaña is a research scientist and Senior Manager of Diamond Identification at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in Carlsbad, California.
Nicole Wegman is the founder and CEO of Ring Concierge, an NYC-based bridal and fine jewelry brand. She is also an accredited fine jeweler with the GIA.
Why Trust Brides
Chloe Caldwell is a Commerce Writer for Brides. She has more than five years of journalism experience writing about beauty, fashion, accessories, and weddings.