Diamonds are a woman’s (and some say a man’s) best friend – the gem is not only a symbol of everlasting love but also a durable investment for those looking for a classic piece that will withstand the test of time.
While diamonds have typically been known for not being the most wallet-friendly jewellery option, things are set to change with this innovation: lab-grown diamonds.
The largest jewellery retail chain store in Singapore, SK Jewellery Group, has launched a new line, Star Carat, that features lab-grown diamonds, an alternative to diamonds that has been gaining prominence in the US and other markets – even Meghan Markle has been seen with a pair of lab-grown diamond earrings!
A lab-grown diamond, as the name suggests, is grown in a laboratory using technology that replicates the natural diamond growing process. By replicating the heat and pressure conditions found on earth in which carbon crystallises into a diamond. This allows new carbon crystals to build upon the diamond seed, creating a larger diamond.
There are two main methods for manufacturing diamonds – the high-pressure, high-temperature (HPHT) method and chemical vapour deposition (CVD) method. SK Jewellery sources diamonds that are made from the CVD method, which is much cheaper as it works at moderate temperatures and low pressure, hence requiring smaller and less expensive equipment.
Lab-grown vs mined diamonds
Can you tell at a glance which of these diamonds is lab-grown, and which is mined?
Chances are, you’ll have to hazard a guess because even trained eyes can’t tell the difference!
Lab-grown diamonds are chemically, physically, and optically identical to natural diamonds mined from the earth, where the only difference is the origin. You will find the same brilliance, fire, and scintillation in lab-grown diamonds as natural diamonds, as well as variations in terms of colour and clarity.
One of the biggest misconceptions that people have is that lab-grown diamonds are the same as simulants such as cubic zirconia and moissanite – they are definitely not the same! The latter two may look like diamonds but do not have the same physical structure as diamonds at all, which is why they are not as durable and scratch-resistant.
Natural diamonds have a lengthier supply chain which requires the laborious process of having them mined, while lab-grown diamonds forgo the mining process, requiring less labour and hence a reduction in costs.
As a result, lab-grown diamonds are priced up to 50% lesser than mined diamonds, which essentially means that you can get carat sizes up to 50% bigger for the same price. For example, a 0.5 carat mined diamond would cost you SGD5,000, but you can now get a 1 carat mined diamond at the same price!
Because of the difference in production, lab-grown diamonds are also an environmentally-friendlier and more ethical option.
Lab-grown diamonds are less detrimental to the environment as it takes lesser energy to grow a diamond in a laboratory as compared to the diamonds that are mined and unearthed from the ground. In addition, it is easier to track the production and sourcing of lab-grown diamonds, whereas the supply chain of mined diamonds is often murky and ethically debatable.
How to choose a good lab-grown diamond
Due to the fact that lab-grown and mined diamonds have the same physical properties, lab-grown diamonds can actually be graded and certified using the same process as natural diamonds, where they are sent to a gemological laboratory that specialises in grading diamonds to have their 4 C’s (Cut, Carat, Clarity, and Colour) evaluated.
For example, all Star Carat Shop diamonds are sold with a certification from the International Gemological Institute (IGI), one of the major diamond grading laboratories.
The IGI grades lab-grown diamonds on the same scale and criteria as mined diamonds, and issues a certification that prominently states if a gemstone is lab-grown or natural. Laser engravings on the diamond itself tie the gem to its certificate, which may be viewed online.
Cut is the most important grading aspect of the 4C’s – it determines how effective the light that enters the stone is refracted within and then reflected back through the top of the diamond. The overall proportions, symmetry, and polishing affect the diamond’s fire, brilliance and scintillation. A well-cut diamond is able to reflect maximum light to the eye, allowing it to sparkle brighter than a poor cut diamond.
Only lab-grown diamonds of cut grades “Very Good” and above are offered at Star Carat Shop.
Colour refers to the natural hint inherent in diamonds. Graded on an alphabetical scale starting from D (colourless) to Z (light yellow). The closer the diamond is to colourless, the rarer it is.
All Star Carat Shop lab-grown diamonds possess colour grades between D and H.
Clarity assesses the small imperfections and flaws found on the diamond’s surface and internally, referred to as inclusions or blemishes, typically caused by tremendous heat and pressure. Ranging from FL (flawless) to I3 (included), diamonds graded SI2 and above are not visible to the naked eye. Diamonds that graded below SI2 usually possess imperfections that are visible to the unaided eye.
Star Carat Shop lab-grown diamonds are graded SI2 and above in clarity.
Carat denotes the weight of a diamond. 1 Carat is equivalent to 0.2 grams in weight. The value of a diamond (with all other C’s equal) increases significantly as it enters a higher carat weight group.
Lab-grown diamonds’ popularity in Singapore
Although lab-grown diamonds are still considered a niche in the jewellery market, they have already gained quite a huge fanbase in Singapore: according to SK Jewellery, they have received a lot of interest from customers and reported strong sales since they first started offering lab-grown diamonds at Star Carat Shop.
One of the main reasons for lab-grown diamonds’ popularity can be attributed to the fact that a lot of millennials want to know where their diamonds are coming from and are much more price-savvy, so the lab-grown diamonds appeal to them.
Generally, there are two groups of millennial consumers in Singapore who are very interested in lab-grown diamonds: men looking to propose to their girlfriends, as well as young women looking to buy jewellery pieces for themselves.
In fact, most customers who book an appointment at the Star Carat Shop already know the existence of lab-grown diamonds but want to know more about them. Ladies who are shopping for themselves, in particular, are very open to the idea of buying real diamonds at a much cheaper price.
SK Jewellery also shared with us that the pieces made with lab-grown diamonds are flying off the shelves much faster than the company has expected, so you can definitely expect lab-grown diamonds to be the next big thing!
Lab-grown diamond pieces you’ll love
Currently, the Star Carat Shop collection comprises mainly jewellery pieces with smaller-carat white diamonds, the reason being that demand for the lab-grown diamonds has exceeded their expectations and the pieces are flying off the shelves too fast, so they are concentrating on the more popular solitaire rings that fit into customers’ smaller budgets.
That being said, SK Jewellery shared with us that coloured diamonds are in the pipeworks, so keep your eyes peeled!
If you are interested in buying a jewellery piece made with lab-grown diamonds, these are some of the best-sellers that millennial consumers love:
Star Carat Glamour Diamond Ring
If you are looking for sparkly jewellery pieces, this beautiful one diamond solitaire set in an 18K white gold twisted setting will do just the trick.
While rings adorned with melee diamonds at the sides typically cost about SGD4,000, this one will only set you back by SGD2,399 – no wonder it’s flying off the shelves!
Star Carat Glamour Diamond Ring retails at SGD2,399 here.
Star Carat Elegant Diamond Ring
Popular with those who are looking for a classic engagement ring, this solitaire diamond ring comprises a single-centre diamond set in a knife-edge shank setting in 18K white gold.
You can choose from carat sizes ranging from 0.7 to 2.05.
Star Carat Elegant Diamond Ring retails at SGD2,468 here.
Star Carat Classic 6 Prong Diamond Pendant
You don’t have to wait for someone to give you diamonds, especially not when they are so much more affordable now.
You’d want this diamond pendant set in an 18K white gold 6-prongs setting for yourself, but you can always get this for a mum or sister that you love dearly as well!
Star Carat Classic 6 Prong Diamond Pendant retails at SGD739 here.
If you would like to see SK Jewellery Star Carat Shop’s full jewellery collection made with lab-grown diamonds, or want advice on the best diamond piece that will fit your budget, you may make an appointment to visit their showroom here.
Star Carat Shop Showroom
Address: 7 Changi Business Park Vista #01-01 SOOKEE HQ, Singapore 486042
Opening hours: 10am – 7pm (Monday – Friday). By appointment only on Saturday, closed on Sunday.