Man versus Nature

Lab-grown / Synthetic / Man Made diamonds are becoming increasingly common. Hardly surprising, given the rarity, the beauty and the price of the real thing. And while the two look almost identical on the surface, there are still real differences that set them apart.

The most obvious is, of course, time.

While nature takes anywhere between 1 and 3.5 billion years to form a real diamond, a lab will take around 6 to 10 weeks to manufacture the synthetic version. And that’s one of the big reasons why organic diamonds are so valuable. They started their journey way, way before the dawn of the human race – the kind of story that adds an extra dimension to their sparkle.  

Then there’s the resale value. Or lack of…

In general, a man-made diamond will cost around 20-30% less than a natural diamond of similar size and quality. On the flip side, lab-grown diamonds arguably lack resale value. That’s because factory production can supply a theoretically unlimited amount. Organic diamonds, on the other hand, typically retain their prices. Already a rare commodity, high quality natural diamonds are set to become even scarcer – a fact that will underwrite their value in the future. Montluc diamond jewellery typically costs between a third and half the price of the comparable quality elsewhere. So with the same kind of budget you can go for the lab version. Or choose to wear the world’s best diamonds.  

What about the way they’re graded?

The GIA (Gemological Institute of America), the world’s most authoritative gemstone body, tests every diamond to determine if it is natural or not. Lab-grown diamonds receive their own Synthetic Diamond Grading Report. As an added precaution, the GIA also lasers a report number and statement into each to confirm it is laboratory-grown.  

So what about the eco side of things?

It is often claimed that man-made diamonds are eco-friendly, but they are produced in factories and do not offer any positive benefits for the environment. In fact, without any accurate metrics of the raw material used, question marks still hang over the impact they have.

”Great Thoughts”
Photo by Simon Cederquist

The elephant in the room

Is it more ethical to produce a diamond in a lab than to mine it from the earth? On the face of it, the answer may be yes. But dig a little deeper and you’ll see that modern diamond mines have had a positive effect in poor countries in Southern Africa and elsewhere.

Botswana… has risen out of poverty to become a showcase of democracy and development in Africa. The only reason that has happened is because it’s the world’s largest diamond producer.

Saleem Ali, University of Vermont

Our head designer, Rudy Prampolini, has been a regular traveller to African countries and completely agrees. “Mining does not mean exploiting miners or countries. We can work with them in an ethical way to use help them make the most of their natural resources. The reality is that most companies now work in the right way: they pay taxes to open a mine, build roads to make it accessible, dig wells for local villages, connect them to power, and bring work where it is needed. Often they will also sign a contract to build a new hospital or a school. This is what big companies are doing right now. This is the reality. This is where safeguards such as the Kimberley Process and the triple control of the Antwerp Diamond Office come in to the equation, guaranteeing the exploitation-free origin of any diamond.”

As a matter of personal choice, there is no right or wrong answer

To the naked eye, it’s pretty much impossible to spot the difference between a lab-grown diamond and a real one. There’s no doubting that what man can achieve is incredible. Is it as awe-inspiring as the product of nature? That’s for you to decide.

» Click here to read about our approach to ethics

» Click here to see how we offer unrivalled value

Montluc » Man versus Nature

Small diamonds

Our small diamonds under 0.20ct all meet the top grades.
Colour: D-F
Clarity: Flawless to VVS2
Cut: Always Triple Excellent

Open gradings chart under 0.20ct
Montluc » Man versus Nature Montluc standard for diamonds - diamond grading schema
Montluc » Man versus Nature

Large diamonds

Our larger diamonds over 0.20ct all meet the very top grades.
Colour: D
Clarity: Flawless
Cut: Always Triple Excellent

Open gradings chart over 0.20ct
Montluc » Man versus Nature Montluc standard for diamonds - diamond grading schema