If you've shopped for diamond jewelry lately, you've likely been faced with a choice: natural diamonds unearthed from diamond mines or diamonds grown in a laboratory (referred to as lab-grown diamonds and, less commonly, cultivated diamonds). 

So what exactly are lab-grown diamonds? They are real diamonds created using advanced technological processes that replicate the conditions under which diamonds naturally form deep within the earth. Diamond growing facilities have sprung up all over the world in the past few years, in the U.S., United Kingdom, European Union, India, China, and the Middle East.

Within the jewelry industry, a host of opinions about lab-grown diamonds coexist—many retailers have embraced the lab-grown diamond revolution with gusto, while others maintain that lab-grown diamonds are a different product than mined diamonds (though lab-grown diamonds are chemically and optically identical to mined diamonds). Many feel that mined diamonds, which are millions of years old, possess a unique history and singular emotional value. And mining communities have positive effects on local populations, including job-creation.

But proponents of lab-grown diamonds like the potential they possess for limiting mining and offering a carbon-neutral gemstone source. To be clear, it takes significant energy resources to grow diamonds. But at this stage, many diamond growers are utilizing sustainably sourced energy such as wind, solar, and hydropower, and a number are beginning the use of carbon capture and sequestration to further reduce their ecological footprint.

Two primary methods of growing diamonds in laboratories are employed: high pressure high temperature (HPHT)—by simulating the natural growing environment of the diamond, this process uses carbon, extreme pressures, and temperatures to produce a diamond—and chemical vapor deposition (CVD), a method that involves breaking down carbon gases and depositing them onto a diamond seed layer, allowing the diamond to grow layer by layer.

For jewelry lovers, lab-grown diamonds offer value: they are typically 20-40% less than mined diamonds, making diamond jewelry more accessible to more people. For this reason and others, there's been a tidal wave of interest in lab-grown diamond jewelry. And several brands and retailers offer lab-grown diamond jewelry styles in a range of prices. 

Here are a few of the companies doing great things with lab-grown diamonds:

 

Pandora bracelet
Pandora lab-grown diamond bracelet

Pandora

The world’s largest jewelry brand, Pandora, now only uses lab-grown diamonds made with renewable energy; the company's carbon footprint is around 95% lower than those of diamond mining operations. To further reduce climate impact, all Pandora lab-grown diamond styles crafted since August 2022 are set in 100% recycled silver and gold, which underscores Pandora's commitment to purchasing only recycled silver and gold for its crafting by 2025. 


 

Lightbox necklaces
Lightbox lab-grown diamonds necklaces

Lightbox

Launched in 2018 by the largest diamond mining company in the world, De Beers, this jewelry brand disrupted the lab-grown diamond market with its transparent approach and groundbreaking linear pricing model (currently its sells diamonds for $800 a carat) and the company continues to transform the industry through innovation and world-leading technology. In its state-of-the-art advanced manufacturing lab in Gresham, Ore., Lightbox scientists 'engineer' brilliant pink, blue, and white diamonds in a matter of weeks, using 100% renewable wind energy to power the growing process. You can find Lightbox online and a Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's, and Reeds. 


 

Loyal.e Paris diamond jewelry
Loyal.e Paris diamond jewelry

 

Loyal.e. Paris

This French lab-grown diamond fine jewelry brand launched in 2021 and committed to a new kind of luxury that prizes authenticity and responsibility. Loyal.e teams fine Parisian jewelry craftsmanship with sustainable and transparent practices. Each statement piece is handcrafted in Paris from 18k recycled gold and climate-neutral lab grown diamonds. 

 

Woman in a blue shirt wearing diamond rings, earrings and necklaces.
Smiling Rocks lab-grown diamond jewelry


Smiling Rocks
 

This premium lab-grown diamond luxury brand based in New York offers stunning luxury designs and collections as a means of modeling eco-conscious corporate practices. Smiling Rocks has several eco-certifications: it's is a certified Positive Luxury Butterfly Mark brand, an SCS Global Certified, and a member 1% for the Planet.

 

All photos courtesy of brands listed