Jewelry Blog

Are Lab-Grown Diamonds a Massive Scam?

lab grown diamonds testers and jeweler examine loupe

Over the past few years, lab-grown diamonds have received a lot of hype and notoriety. If you google them, it appears that these artificial gems are fine. But beware! Lab-grown diamonds are undoubtedly one of the biggest jewelry scams in the past 50 years. Keep reading to learn why!

Most consumers aren’t even aware that the Federal Trade Commission had to intervene. See below.

Short History of Lab-Grown Diamonds

Here’s a very short breakdown of the 150-year history of lab diamonds.

In the late 18th century, scientists discovered that diamonds are made from pure carbon. This prompted them to start developing methods to grow diamonds under artificial conditions.

James Ballantyne Hannay and Frederic Henri Moissan gave it a fair shot, but by today’s standards, their method was crude. Within a crucible furnace, they heated charcoal to more than 3,500°F together with iron. Then, they cooled the iron to create the pressure needed for diamond creation. This first experiment flopped. But it motivated others to try their luck with the process.

In 1953, ASEA, the Swedish utility company, claimed to have developed the process during 1953. Yet, they kept it a secret until well into the 1980s.

General Electric (GE) is credited with producing the first lab-grown diamonds in 1954, under the codename “Project Superpressure.” This groundbreaking work involved using high pressure and high temperatures to transform graphite into diamond. Initially, these diamonds were too small for jewelry and were primarily used for industrial applications. It wasn’t until 1971 that GE produced gem-quality synthetic diamonds, although these early versions were often yellow and contained many inclusions.

How Are Lab Grown Diamonds Made?

lab grown diamond machine HTHP

There are two basic ways to make lab-grown diamonds. See below for more information.

  • High-Pressure High-Temperature (HPHT). This method involves placing a seed into a highly pressurized and heated mold and then dissolving molten metal into it.
  • Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD). This method involves inserting carbon-based gases into a chamber, energizing them, and providing good conditions for the growth of the diamond.

In general, the machines need to run for about a week to yield a 1-carat diamond. During the early years, the lab-grown diamonds were of poor quality. The gems were yellow and brown. This was because they got contaminated with nitrogen and nickel.

However, adding titanium or aluminum allowed the manufacturers to produce pure white diamonds. And if boron gets added, diamond laboratories get blue gemstones.

Click here to skip straight to where we explain why buying a lab-grown diamond is a massive scam.

The 5 Different Types of Lab-Grown Diamonds

Afshin Examining Diamond Ring Under Loupe

The different types of lab-grown diamonds can be primarily categorized into two main types:

Simulant Diamonds (AKA Fake Diamonds)

These materials resemble diamonds but are not composed of carbon crystal structures like genuine diamonds. They only share some visual similarities with natural diamonds.
Examples include:

  1. Cubic Zirconia Simulants: These are affordable and visually similar to diamonds but lack durability.
  2. Diamond Nexus Simulants: These are known for better durability than cubic zirconia and are made from a mix of carbon and other substances.
  3. Moissanite Lab Gemstones: Created through a laboratory process, they are known for their brilliance and hardness comparable to diamonds.

These types of “diamonds” are the ones that you’ll see on eBay for $10 per diamond. They look 80% real and will fool most beginner jewelry enthusiasts.

Cultured Diamonds (Lab-Grown Diamonds)

Carbon diamonds produced in a lab share the same physical, chemical, and optical properties as mined diamonds. As mentioned before, there are two types of lab diamonds.

Cultured lab Diamonds can be divided into:

  1. HPHT Synthetic Diamonds: Created under high pressure and high temperatures, replicating the natural diamond-creating conditions. They are carbon diamonds with almost identical characteristics to those formed underground.
  2. CVD Diamonds: Grown from a hydrocarbon gas mixture using the Chemical Vapor Deposition method. This technique is favored for its flexibility and impurity control, making it popular for industrial applications and research.

These lab-created diamonds offer a more affordable alternative to natural diamonds while maintaining most of the desirable properties of their natural counterparts​​​​.

But as we will explain, there are massive issues with lab diamonds that almost no one is willing to discuss.

4 Reasons Why Lab Grown Diamonds Are a Scam

  1. Price of Lab-Grown vs Natural Diamonds
  2. Lab Diamonds are Unsellable
  3. Lab Grown Diamond Prices are Falling Rapidly
  4. The FTC’s Involvement in Lab-Grown Diamonds

1. Prices of Lab-Grown vs Natural Diamonds

Lab-grown carbon diamonds’ main allure (and pitch) is that they’re at least 60% cheaper than natural diamonds. But are lab-diamonds really your cheapest option?

Let’s compare all your options. Let’s say all three options were equal, measuring at G color, VS2 clarity, and weighing 1.50 carats:

  • The Natural Diamond will cost $10,000.
  • A Lab-grown Diamond will cost around $2,800.
  • A Synthetic Diamond will cost under $100.

Our point is that if you don’t want to pay the price of a natural diamond, we completely understand. It’s expensive and not for everyone, but in that case, we strongly recommend going straight to a synthetic diamond. The lab-grown diamond is not the cheapest alternative, and as you will see below, it is also a really bad idea.

2. Lab Diamonds are Unsellable

The resale value of lab-grown diamonds is non-existent. This is the most compelling reason to stay far away from lab-grown diamonds!

In other words, if you go to a random jeweler and offer to sell them your lab-grown diamond, they will not buy it, at any cost. Even the jewelers who sell lab-grown diamonds do not want them back (unless their return policy forces them). They would rather just print a new diamond for a fraction of the selling cost than buy them back, even at a fractional price of what they were sold at.

This is the most compelling reason to keep far away from artificial and lab-grown diamonds.

“There is nothing rare or distinct about a lab-grown diamond,” says Benjamin Khordipour. “There is no market cap or control on how many can be made available. They are completely worthless in my eyes. No one I’ve met in the jewelry trade wants to buy them.”

Counter Argument: You may argue that you have no intention of ever selling the lab diamond from your engagement ring, to which we counter that case, you should just buy a synthetic diamond.

3. Lab Grown Diamond Prices are Falling Rapidly

We’ve been watching the lab-grown diamond market carefully over the past few years, and we’ve seen a massive drop recently.

In other words, the lab diamond prices are falling very quickly. Too quickly.

“One of the most alarming issues with lab-grown diamonds is their massive price drop,” says Benjamin Khordipour GG, Chief Gemologist at Estate Diamond Jewelry. “They’ve lost over 80% value from 2016 to 2024, which is only one of the massive red flags associated with lab-grown diamonds. I estimate that they will drop 200% more before 2025.”

4. The FTC’s Involvement in Lab-Grown Diamonds

USA FTC Building

As soon as lab-grown diamonds hit the market and began to make waves, the FTC saw a massive problem. Jewelers were selling lab diamonds and not clearly marking them as lab-grown.

In 2018, the FTC started a crackdown on jewelry companies representing their lab-grown diamonds as genuine, naturally mined diamonds. In fact, according to the FTC, using the term “diamond” for a lab-grown diamond is illegal unless you add a descriptor that makes it clear that it is lab-made.

Here’s an article from USA Today that gives a better idea. In short, lab-grown diamonds have an uncomfortable element that is now associated with scams and shady business practices.

Important Note: According to FTC rules, if a store wants to sell lab-grown diamonds or gemstones, it must declare that the product was made in a lab. It can’t leave this information ambiguous.

Are There Any Pros of Lab-Grown Diamonds?

As you can see, we are very uncomfortable with lab diamonds, but to be fair, there are very few positive elements about lab-grown diamonds. Here are a few of the benefits of lab-grown diamonds:

  1. They are much cheaper, and even though their resale value is nonexistent, you don’t have to put down as much money as a natural diamond. (Of course, if you want to save money, we recommend purchasing a cheap Cubic-Zirconia diamond for under $20.)
  2. Lab diamonds are great for industrial purposes. The Mohs ranking is high, and they are great for drilling and manufacturing uses.
  3. Lab-grown diamonds are better for the environment than earth-mined diamonds. It is for this reason that we sell vintage diamonds, which are even better for the environment than lab-grown diamonds.

How to Authenticate Against Lab-Grown Diamonds

GIA D Color Authentic Natural Diamond in UV Seal

The good news is that GIA and most professional diamond certification companies can easily tell you if a diamond is natural or lab-grown.

“With colorless HPHT synthetics, the contrast in fluorescence color between growth sectors is much more subtle and can be difficult for a gemologist to detect even while rotating the sample in the DiamondView.” – Gemological Institute of America.

Adding fuel to the fire, Chinese companies have been mass-producing synthetic diamonds. And they’ve managed to get stones larger than 10 carats when cut.

That being said, GIA still determined that it is possible to differentiate between the two because all lab-grown diamonds have an odd fluorescence pattern. When subjected to imaging instruments, artificial diamonds show odd patterns. These aren’t the same as natural diamonds of the same clarity and color.

The problem is that the cheap diamond testers on the market cannot differentiate between natural and lab diamonds. For that reason, if you are suspicious of a diamond, send it to get tested by a certification company.

In conclusion, the experts can determine the difference between genuine natural diamonds and lab-grown artificial diamonds.

Final Thoughts and Verdict

We understand that, as a seller of natural diamonds, we are not completely objective. That said, if we believed lab-grown diamonds were a good idea, we would sell them in our store.

We haven’t sold unnatural diamonds on our website, and we won’t. And for all the reasons mentioned throughout the article, we also believe that lab “diamonds” are not an ethical product at all.

In conclusion, we firmly believe in using what’s already out there and are strong proponents of antique diamonds. Antique diamonds are environmentally conscious, prettier, and romantic and carry their worth better than any synthetic or lab diamond.


About Afshin Shaddaie

Afshin moved to New York City in the 1980s, and a few years later, he began his career in the fine and rare jewelry scene. He teamed up with Michael Khordipour, and they've been curating vintage jewelry ever since. He also regularly contributes to Forbes, Rapaport, CNBC, The Knot, and Insider. Afshin constantly travels to international shows and private viewing events in the hope of finding rare vintage rings that will be important enough to make an impression. He is available for appointments at our New York showroom when he's not traveling. In 2019, Afshin authored his book called The Engagement Ring Guide for Men. He is considered one of the world's foremost authorities on vintage jewelry and antique diamonds. His favorite jewelry era is Art Nouveau, and he loves rare Italian jewelry from the 1950s - 1970s. The Natural Saltwater Pearl is his favorite precious jewel.