lab grown diamonds

Why Lab Diamonds Will Never be Cheap to Manufacture

It is a common misconception that the price of growing diamonds will fall precipitously in the decades ahead. The mined diamond industry aggressively promotes this misconception, arguing that the price of lab diamonds will fall to the price of inferior diamond simulants such as cubic zirconia in the decades ahead.

Cubic Lab Created Diamond Press

The Truth: High Quality Lab Diamonds Are Difficult to Grow and are Rare

It is easier and cheaper to grow brown or industrial-quality lab diamonds and expensive and difficult to grow colorless, high-quality lab diamonds. Just like in the mined diamond industry, there are two completely different supplies of lab diamonds: high quality and low quality. Most of what is in the market is low quality, just like in mined diamonds. High-end retailers like Ada Diamonds have access to high quality lab diamonds that took significantly longer to grow than their lower quality counterparts.

Why Is it Difficult to Grow High Quality Lab Diamonds?

  1. There is a well-known speed limit as to how fast a diamond crystal can be grown. If you try to grow a diamond faster, the diamonds will have fractures in the crystal resulting in low-clarity. Hot, fast growth also produces more voids in the crystal structure which results in brown, yellow, and gray undertones.
  2. Short-cuts produce low quality lab diamonds. One of the ways HPHT diamond growth is sped up is by adding boron during the growth process. This can result in lab diamonds with a blue tinge which is undesirable and low quality. Lab diamonds that are grown too hot and come out brown can be irradiated to remove the color, resulting in gray color and a cloudy appearance.
  3. The cost of cutting and polishing a rough diamond into a diamond gemstone is A) significant and B) exactly the same for both grown and mined diamonds. Diamond is the hardest naturally occurring material on Earth, and it can only be cut and polished by other diamonds or multi-million dollar laser tools.
  4. The process to grow diamonds is one of the most difficult and precise manufacturing techniques ever achieved by humankind. The operation and care of diamond growth equipment takes PhDs and highly skilled technicians. Each diamond production machine ranges from approximately $250k to over $1 million dollars.

Large, high quality lab diamonds require that CVD and HPHT machines run for several weeks or months non-stop while there is still a high failure rate. That means significant opportunity and operational costs for growers that keep the cost of lab diamonds

Lastly, it is far cheaper to mine diamonds that you would think. De Beers self-reported costs to mine diamonds was $104 per carat (for rough diamonds). It is Ada Diamonds' position that the marginal cost to grow each diamond in a laboratory will always be greater than the cost for De Beers and other mining operations to dig diamonds out of the Earth, and the costs to cut, polish, and grade diamonds is exactly the same, regardless of the origin: grown or mined.