The 4Cs of Lab Grown Diamond Quality
Looking to find the most beautiful lab grown diamond? Like mined diamonds, quality is judged according to the famous 4Cs of diamond quality: color, clarity, cut and carat weight. Here is what you need to know about the 4Cs of diamond quality and how they apply to lab grown diamonds. Although most of the quality criteria are the same, there are a few interesting differences. Knowing the lab-grown diamond 4Cs can help you be a savvy diamond shopper.
Lab Grown Diamond Color Grading
Diamond color is graded on a D to Z scale, with D being completely colorless and Z being light yellow or brown. Diamonds are graded upside down in controlled lighting next to master stones so slight differences in color can be seen. You probably won’t be able to distinguish between three color grades without seeing a diamond upside down and next to a master stone. All the sparkle distracts your eye too much.
In a perfect world, all the lab grown diamonds would be D color, right? But nature doesn’t work like that, even in the lab. Only a few atoms of nitrogen from the air or a few atoms out of place in the carbon crystal while it’s growing and a diamond will have a slight tint of color, just like in nature. The first lab grown diamonds were always dark yellow. But technology has advanced a lot in recent years and skilled growers can produce large colorless and near colorless crystals.
Both of the processes used to create lab grown diamonds, Carbon Vapor Deposition, or CVD, and High Pressure High Temperature, or HPHT, produce a range of diamond colors. The CVD process produces Type IIa diamonds which are exceptionally pure and potentially colorless. Sometimes the atoms will be out of place in CVD-grown diamond crystals so they are squeezed again under high pressure and temperature after they are grown to align the crystal perfectly, making them more colorless and transparent.
Still D to F color lab grown diamonds are more difficult to produce and command a premium. That’s why at Brilliant Carbon, we recommend you choose lab grown diamonds in the near colorless range. As in mined diamonds, G to I colors are a great value. They are almost colorless so they look bright and white in when set in jewelry but they are a bit more affordable.
If you are setting your diamond in white gold or platinum, you will want to select from the higher end of the near colorless range. If your jewelry piece is yellow or rose gold, more of a tint in your diamond won’t be visible. The shape and size of your diamond will also affect how much color you notice. Larger sizes, with their larger facets show more color. Color is also more visible in step cuts with larger facets like emerald cut diamonds and Asscher cut diamonds as well as fancy shapes like pear shapes and marquise shapes, which concentrate color in their points.
Lab Grown Diamond Clarity Grading
Like mined diamonds, the clarity of lab created diamonds is graded using 10x magnification on a scale from Flawless (FL) to Very Very Slightly Included (VVS) to Very Slightly Included (VS) to Slightly Included (SI) to Included (I).
In addition to the clarity grade, you can see a plot of where the inclusions are located and what kind of inclusions they are on a diamond’s grading report. The pattern of inclusions is so distinctive that it’s like a fingerprint that can even be used to identify stolen diamonds.
In general, you won’t be able to see any of your diamond’s inclusions with your unaided eyes for all the grades above Included. In practice though, you may be able to see some inclusions in SI2 grades too, especially if your diamond is large. We recommend you avoid diamonds with dark inclusions or inclusions located smack dab in the center of the diamond where you are more likely to spot them.
At Brilliant Carbon, we recommend SI1 grades and higher for brilliant shapes like round diamonds, oval shape diamonds, and princess cut diamonds. Because Emerald cuts and Asscher cuts have longer facets, inclusions can be more visible so you may prefer a higher clarity like VS1.
Most lab created diamonds are grown in a very clean environment and so they have fewer inclusions than natural diamonds that form deep in the earth. It doesn’t cost much to upgrade to a VVS or VS clarity.
Lab Grown Diamond Cut Grading
Cut is the most important of the 4Cs. The quality of a diamond’s craftsmanship, its proportions and polish, is what makes it sparkle with brilliance and fire. No matter whether your diamond is mined from the earth or grown in a lab, the cutter creates its dazzling beauty.
At Brilliant Carbon, we always recommend buying the best cut diamond you can, even if it means choosing a lower color and clarity. We only offer diamonds that are well cut, so we have fewer diamonds in stock than other retailers. We want to make sure that every lab grown diamond we sell is gorgeous!
Today, laboratories grade the quality of a diamond’s cut, assessing its proportions, polish and symmetry. The best cut grade is referred to as ideal proportions. Look for ideal, excellent and very good cut grades on your diamond’s grading report to make sure that your diamond will be as beautiful as possible.
Lab Grown Diamonds and Carat Weight
Diamonds are sold by carat weight, which translates to 0.2 gram. A one carat round diamond, the most popular size and shape for engagement rings, is about 6.5mm in diameter.
Different diamond shapes and cuts have different diameters. Elongated silhouettes like oval shape diamonds and pear shape diamonds look a bit larger than rounds from above because they are less deep. To find out the exact dimensions of a diamond, check the lab grading report.
Most people agree that the bigger the diamond the better. Who doesn’t love a big beautiful diamond? Choosing a lab grown diamond gives you more carats for your money without sacrificing quality. Lab grown diamonds cost about half of mined diamonds of the same quality.
But larger carat sizes are where lab grown diamonds really shine because the total savings adds up as the carat weight increases. If you are shopping for a mined 2-carat round diamond with a G SI1 quality, you’d expect to pay between $15,000 and $20,000. Saving half that amount is significant.
That’s why two carat and up lab grown diamonds are the fastest growing size category. In fact, there is so much demand for large lab-grown diamonds right now that they are getting harder to keep in stock. We’re not surprised. Who wouldn’t want a diamond that’s better cut and identical quality for half the price? You can afford to get the diamond that you really want without breaking your budget.
Now that you understand the 4Cs of lab grown diamonds, you are ready to find a lab grown diamond that's right for you.