What Are Lab Grown Diamonds And How Do They Compare To Mined Diamonds?


Absolutely Sussex chats to Melanie Wakefield about lab grown diamonds, available now at Wakefields Jewellers in Horsham

The obvious place to start is what exactly are lab grown diamonds?

They are quite a new thing for us, but lab grown diamonds are not new to the industry. Diamond producers have been making them industrially for many years, but they have now made them in a better quality. Lab grown diamonds are graded now in the same way as a natural diamond is graded. You can buy a lab grown diamond with a certificate and it looks identical to the natural diamond certificate – they can be graded by weight, colour, clarity etc. That has given the industry confidence to be able to sell them.

There are mined diamonds and lab grown diamonds. Mined diamonds are so rare and that’s why they are expensive. If you go really big with lovely quality and clarity, it’s expensive. Whereas lab grown diamonds are created, so they are not limited, and they can produce larger diamonds as well. So actually you are getting the same diamond as it were – chemically, optically, physically identical to the natural diamond.


How are they actually created?

They are grown from a tiny diamond plate or seed in a laboratory. They are grown under intense heat and pressure, and it takes weeks to grow them in a machine that basically mimics the volcanic pressure and heat they were under within the ground. So what would have normally taken a thousand years, can be sped up and made within months. However, I will only buy lab grown diamonds that have been created from renewably sourced energy. 

What convinced you to sell them at Wakefields?

I have quite a lot of couples coming in looking for a real show for their money, who really do want to have something they can show off to their friends. Buying a lab grown diamond means that they can get a stone double the size. All of the other things about the diamond – the way we set them, its certification – means it will behave and look the same way as a natural diamond. There are lots of people now who are on a strict budget, but they still want something that will look amazing. That’s why we sell them. For the same price you will get double the size of diamond in a lab grown. I have sold quite a few now and I am really pleased with the response.

What kind of lab grown diamonds do you have on sale at Wakefields?

Everything I have chosen is really excellent quality. There will be a mix of diamonds in D, E and F colour, and all VVS or VS clarity. The collection ranges in weight starting from one carat, so they are all exceptional, show-stopping stones that I think everyone will love when they see them. The selection includes everything from rings and pendants, to earrings, but I am also designing a bracelet that is currently being made in the workshop. Interestingly I have even sourced some lab grown diamonds in shades of pink, which are really rare. In the natural diamond world, pink is almost unheard of, I have only ever seen three natural pink diamonds in my life. So I’m really excited about these pink stones. I have plenty of sketches for designs, which I am working on at the moment. 

Wakefields ©toby P Photo
Wakefields Jewellers, photo by Toby P

Are you often sketching designs?

That’s what I do every day. I design every single day for different people and our own collection. I will do a CAD on the computer, so somebody can look at their ring 360 degrees, I can turn it upside down for them etc, and I can either use their stones or my stones, and they are getting something completely unique. It’s something we do a lot here. I had a client yesterday who came in to pick up a bangle and she burst into tears with happiness. It was using gold that belonged to her mum and nan, and it was a really beautiful piece that she just loved.

What else do you have in store that’s perfect for Valentine’s Day?

I buy in quite a lot of pre-owned jewellery and tend to break it up to create more wearable designs, repurposing older jewellery is definitely proving to be popular. It does tend to be all

about diamonds at this time of year, they are just a timeless choice for engagement rings. But many people are also looking for something completely unique, proposing with rings from our coloured gemstone collections too, there are no definitive rules when it comes to engagement rings.


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