By Julia Griffith FGA DGA EG
THE GEM ACADEMY
The world of diamonds is evolving and laboratory-grown diamonds have been nudging further into the spotlight. As these stones gain popularity, it's common to encounter various arguments and misconceptions about them. In this short guide, we'll explore three common arguments and show you how to respond to them with grace and knowledge.
1: "Laboratory-Grown Diamonds Are Exactly the Same as Natural Diamonds."
I've heard many an argument about this. While diamonds and laboratory-grown diamonds are the same material - they are not exactly the same.
To be 'exactly the same' they would share identical chemical compositions and properties - but they don't. This is due to subtle differences in impurity elements within these stones (which, against popular understanding, both diamonds have laboratory-grown diamonds have many).
The result is that they often react differently to gemmological tests. For example, many laboratory-grown diamonds do not test as 'diamond' on diamond testers.
As a result of these facts - it cannot be said that diamonds and laboratory-grown diamonds are exactly the same. Subtle changes to the words you use to describe laboratory-grown diamonds will help you to avoid debates around this issue.
How to avoid the argument that they are exactly the same
Selecting your words carefully when describing laboratory-grown diamonds will save you from all arguments.
For example, you could say “Laboratory-grown diamonds have essentially the same chemical composition and crystal structure as natural diamonds” and you would be 100% accurate. The word essentially is important. It means the key composition and structure (which is carbon in strong covalent bonds) is the same but not necessarily everything else.
2: "Laboratory-Grown Diamonds Are Real Diamonds."
Laboratory-grown diamonds being described as real diamonds is a huge issue.
People that refer to laboratory-grown diamonds as 'real diamonds' often wish to express that laboratory-grown diamonds are the same material as diamond and not an imitation of diamond (such as cubic zirconia - an entirely different material that looks like diamond).
Even though we can all understand the temptation to use the word 'real' to affirm the fact that they are 'diamond' and not lookalikes, using the word 'real' is inappropriate.
'Real' has a meaning:
2. (of a thing) not imitation or artificial; genuine. "the earring was presumably real gold"
By dictionary definition, the word 'real' can only be ascribed to things that natural (i.e. not artificial). Artificial means a product that was made by people and not nature. This alone should be reason enough to avoid using this term. Words and their definitions matter.
Regardless, some still insist on referring to them as 'real' in an attempt to affirm they are the same material as diamond. This is a bad idea...
If a description is true for two different things, in this case the word ‘real’ being used for both diamonds and laboratory-grown diamonds, then it is not helping separate the products. The meaning becomes meaningless and can lead to a misunderstanding.
Also, by way of definition, the term 'genuine' should also only be applied to natural diamonds.
How to counteract the argument that they are real
Avoid using the term real. Maybe do some gentle schooling that real means 'natural'. Not just by your standards, but by all trade standards and dictionary definitions.
In every terminology guide and trade guide (including the FTC) – it states that, regarding gemstones, the world ‘real’ is to only be used to describe those that are natural.
You could elaborate that though you both know diamonds and laboratory-grown diamonds are the same material, the world ‘real’ should only be used to refer to natural diamonds as this is what it insinuates.
3: "Laboratory-Grown Diamonds Are Fake Diamonds."
Laboratory-grown diamonds should not be described as ‘real’. However, the word ‘fake’ is equally wrong. It can cause just as much confusion.
‘Fake’ suggests that the stone is an imitation of diamond such as cubic zirconia, synthetic moissanite, or paste. The phrase 'fake diamonds' has been used for imitations for decades.
Though an artificial version of diamond, laboratory-grown diamonds have all the same beauty and durability. They are the same material. This eliminates the word ‘fake’ from being an appropriate term to use as it could cause confusion.
How to counteract this argument:
Call them what they are! Call them synthetic diamonds, laboratory-grown diamonds, or laboratory-created diamonds. Simples.
In all these discussions, it's essential to remain calm, respectful, and well-informed. If you find yourself at a head with someone over these subtle yet important points, address these common arguments with confidence and respect and you can help promote a better understanding of these stones which will hopefully ripple through the industry.
Wish to discuss more arguments or misconceptions? Pop them in the comments below.