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Lab-grown or natural diamonds? Tips on how to choose which one is best for you

Lab-grown can cost less than half the price of a naturally mined diamond
Engagement Ring Couple
Posted at 5:00 AM, Dec 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-02 07:11:03-05

Whether you're getting down on one knee or trying to make this Christmas extra special, the holidays are huge for jewelry sales.

And while diamonds may be a girl's best friend, prices have soared on mined, natural diamonds in recent years.

So the biggest money-saving trend right now is lab-grown diamonds.

Eric Fehr of Richter and Phillips Jewelers said that lab-grown diamonds look identical to natural stones, unlike cubic zirconia, which is easy to spot.

"This is the natural.... this is the lab," he said, showing us two diamonds side by side. We could not tell any difference, even in how they reflected light.

Fehr said that they could save you thousands of dollars over a mined diamond, but only an expert can tell the difference.

"With an eyeball test, it's going to be impossible to tell to the trained eye," he said. "So they are growing in popularity in terms of someone who wants something big for their buck."

Lab-grown diamond sales soared during COVID

Between the pandemic and inflation, you'd think people would spend less on something like jewelry.

But COVID did just the opposite, giving people a reason to propose or at least buy something special, according to Edahn Golan, a diamond industry analyst.

He said before the pandemic, lab-grown diamonds made up about 4% of the market. Now they are up to 10%.

Golan said a big seller in the past few years was lab-grown stud earrings, thanks to video chats and working remotely.

"You don't see the necklace, you don't see a bracelet, you don't see a ring, but you'll definitely see earrings," Golan said during a Zoom call.

Big savings for young couples

Golan said a lab-made diamond is priced 60-70% less than a natural diamond of the same size.

He said you could save money, pocket the difference, or buy something bigger.

"All of a sudden, people said I want to maximize my budget, so give me a nicer diamond," Golan said.

Fehr agrees that you can never go wrong with diamonds and says this is a great way to save money.

"If they want a 4-carat and don't have $40,0000 to shell out, it is an alternative at a much lower price," Fehr said.

Lab-grown gives the same look for much less; that way, you don't waste your money.

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