Our love of valuable gems hasn’t waned for centuries. Diamonds have continually been held in the greatest esteem, and are of infinite worth, both emotionally and monetarily. And it goes without saying that the single most important piece of jewelry purchased is the engagement ring.

Recently, a young man visited our showroom, intent on designing a custom engagement ring that captured all of the feelings of his heart. During the course of our conversation, he asked about the difference between real diamonds and their synthetic counterparts. His questions included:

  • Is a synthetic diamond real?
  • Does it have the same brilliance?
  • Is it as valuable as a naturally formed diamond?
  • Will it hold its value?
  • Will it be acceptable to my fiancee?

In the following, we will both explain what a synthetic - or created - diamond is, as well as provide answers to these common questions.

What is a synthetic diamond and is it considered “real”?

“Synthetic” is an adjective used to describe a substance made by chemical synthesis, especially to imitate a natural product. In other words, a synthetic diamond is one that has been created in a lab. ( Please note: do not confuse “synthetic” with “imitation” or “simulant.” Synthetic - or created - diamonds have all the characteristics of their natural counterparts. ) These diamonds must be - and are - physically, optically and chemically identical to natural diamonds. Synthetic diamonds are indeed real.

How is a synthetic diamond created?

There are two types of synthetic diamonds. The first is called a CVD (Carbon Vapor Deposition) diamond. Its creation is achieved when a thin, wafer-like diamond host is introduced to carbon atoms, which find their sweet spot as they drop onto the host and build up in layers. All of this is done strategically within a clean and controlled environment. Once the desired thickness is achieved, then the host is separated from the new, uncut gem. The host can be used again. The remaining material is cut and faceted into what we know as a brilliant diamond. The second type of synthetic diamond is called an HPHT (high pressure high temperature). There are a few different ways that this is done, but to keep it simple, this process is also accomplished by introducing a seed along with what will become solvents. When molten by high temperature and pressure, the molten metal dissolves and high purity carbon is then transported to the diamond seeds. This precipitates and forms into a large synthetic diamond. The HPHT process has been around a lot longer than the CVD process.

Do synthetic diamonds have the same brilliance as natural diamonds?

The answer is yes. To the human eye, there is no difference. Even professionally trained gemologists cannot tell the difference. Only a grading laboratory, such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) will be able to spot any differences using very elaborate scientific equipment. It is literally impossible to see a difference otherwise.

Will synthetic diamonds hold their value like natural diamonds do?

A diamond is a diamond. Remember, synthetic diamonds hold their value, and in fact, increase in value, just as their natural counterparts do. They do cost a bit less in the current marketplace than mined diamonds, somewhere between five and 10 percent less. The synthetic diamond industry are keeping their margins low in order to be competitive, thus procuring more funding, which ultimately leads to improved research and increased production.

Will a created diamond be acceptable in the engagement ring I create?

The answer to this question is subjective and personal. Synthetic diamonds are certainly worthy enough in quality to be presented in an engagement ring. Educating yourself and your partner in comparing natural versus synthetic diamonds is an important step in choosing what direction you want to take.

At Bostonian Jewelers, our designers and gemstone experts know how crucial finding the right gems and the right setting are in your engagement ring journey. We have decades of experience as Boston jewelers, both in creating heirloom pieces that will capture a legacy of family memories, as well as in understanding the story behind every piece of jewelry we design. Come and sit with us, and let us help you keep that story alive. Visit us at www.bostonianjewelers.com for more information.