Lab Grown Diamond Engagement Rings: An Ethical Option

At Secrète Fine Jewelry, we have always hand crafted every piece of jewelry in our own Bethesda workshop, with careful attention paid for each client’s exact wishes. As the world has become more aware of unethical practices in every industry, it has become all the more important for transparency and honesty about the sourcing of materials, especially diamonds. Many couples are doing their due-diligence researching options for conflict-free engagement rings, and Secrète Fine Jewelry is happy to help.

In addition to all of our jewelry being hand-crafted in Maryland by master jewelers, and in addition to our store’s being a small family business, we’re proud to offer many ethical engagement ring options. You have so many choices at Secrète: using gems sourced from ecologically- and ethically-friendly sources, using Canadian diamonds, using recycled diamonds, using fine diamond alternatives, or using lab-created diamonds. We’re exploring lots of conflict free custom engagement ring options in our blogs, but this week, we’re focused on the advantages of lab-grown diamonds.

lab grown diamond ethical engagement ring conflict free american made handmade washington dc secrete jewelry
This one-of-a-kind lab grown diamond engagement ring in platinum was made by Secrete's Bethesda workshop for a lovely DC couple in 2018. The groom decided to go with lab created diamonds because his bride-to-be is a scientist, and she would appreciate not only the ethical and ecological benefits to lab stones but also the space-age science that goes into their creation. 

lab grown diamond engagement ring ethical custom jewelry washington dc family owned hand made secrete bethesda
Another angle of this ring highlights its streamlined simplicity. Featuring a matched pair of lab grown emerald cuts framing a lab grown oval-- all in G color VVS2 clarity-- this ring has a timeless charm with its simplicity and clean lines. Simple and anything but basic, this engagement ring was handmade to last for generations. 

What are lab-created diamonds?

Lab created diamonds (or lab-grown diamonds) are scientifically, chemically, and molecularly indistinguishable from naturally mined diamonds. More importantly, they are visually indistinguishable from naturally mined diamonds (because really, people, we’re talking about jewelry, and it’s got to be pretty). They’re made in laboratories in different places around the world using a really cool process that simulates the type of conditions it takes the earth to form a diamond underground-- what takes Mother Earth millions of years can be recreated in a lab in a few months. Imagine a really hard-core pressure cooker.

lab grown diamond process
Lab grown diamonds are formed by placing a "seed" or part of a natural diamond in a sealed chamber. As chemical vapors are added to the chamber, the diamond "grows," layer by layer. Photo credit- Daily Mail UK.

Lab created diamonds are different than imitation-diamonds. They’re not the same as cubic zirconias or Swarovski crystals, which are cheap, soft, mass-produced, and not chemically or structurally anything like a diamond. They’re also not like more high-end diamond alternatives, like Moissanite, which is a very hard synthetic stone with a lot of sparkle, but a different molecular structure and a tendency towards a noticeable greenish-brown tinge. Lab grown diamonds are the gemological equivalent of a test-tube baby; they were conceived in science, but after that, everything else is exactly the same as their natural equivalents.

lab created diamond versus natural diamonds secrete fine jewelry washington dc custom engagement ethical conflict free
Lab-grown diamonds are indistinguishable from naturally mined diamonds because, for all scientific purposes down to the molecular structure, they are real diamonds. Photo credit- NPR.

How do I choose a lab created diamond?

Like all diamond purchases, you’ll need to consider budget and the 4Cs. You’ll want to talk to your jeweler about the style of engagement ring you want and what diamond would look best for your specific project.

In addition, you should feel free to ask questions about the origins of your lab grown diamond. We’ve heard sketchy stories about some jewelry stores’ responses to questions about their lab stones; jewelers should be able to give very specific information about the origins of their lab-grown diamonds, citing a state or city, not something vague like “probably Russia” (a real response from another Washington, DC jeweler, believe it or not). At Secrète Fine Jewelry, we source all of our lab-created diamonds from the United States-- many are created in New York state, but some are from Oregon, California, and even Texas.

You should also make sure your lab-grown diamonds is certified. Some labs, like GIA, only certify naturally-mined diamonds, so most commonly a lab-grown diamond will have a certificate from IGI or GCAL or another reputable lab. Just because it’s factory-created, it doesn’t mean the specifications are guaranteed. Trustworthy jewelers will provide third party certificates for you lab-created diamonds that attest to the color, carat, clarity, and cut of the stone, matching it to its laser-inscribed serial number.

lab grown diamond certified reports ethical engagement secrete jewelry washington dc bethesda
Lab-grown diamonds come with reports from independent gemological associations that verify their grades. This custom lab diamond ring from Secrete's Washington, DC store using three diamonds, two certified by GCAL and one by IGI. 

How to I create a lab diamond engagement ring that's truly ethical? 

If you’re choosing to create a custom engagement ring with a lab created stone, be sure to find a jeweler who can make a custom engagement setting using the ethical stones of your choice for side stones. The most popular “ethical” engagement online mega-store will help you find a lab diamond for the center stone, but give you no options when it comes to the other diamonds on the ring. Even worse, they offer no information on the origins of the halo diamonds, side diamonds, or accent stones, neither information attesting to a conflict-free origin nor information about the quality of the diamonds. 

This just doesn’t make sense to us. At Secrète, we understand that couples who prefer lab diamonds for their ethical engagement rings shouldn’t have to throw their morals out the window because it’s easier for a big company to have pre-fab settings. We're a small family business dedicated to one-to-one service. We work with our clients to make sure every stone in the ring, from the biggest center stone to the smallest piece of melee, fits their conflict-free standards. For ethical side and accent stones, our clients have a choice of lab-grown diamonds, recycled diamonds, Canadian diamonds, white sapphires, other white gems, Moissanite, or other synthetics. Each couple will have their preference, and each ring’s unique design will suggest a few front-runners, but the most important things are that we have transparency and that you have a choice.

ethical lab grown sapphire ring secrete fine jewelry custom engagement washington dc conflict free
This gorgeous lab-grown sapphire ring was made by Secrete DC for an adorable young couple who work in international development. Their commitment to a more peaceful earth is reflected in this conflict-free engagement ring, using a lab-created gemstone, diamonds recycled from the groom's grandmother's earrings, and recycled white gold. 

Are you interested in designing an ethical engagement ring using lab-grown diamonds from the USA? Reach out to us today, at our DC store in DuPont Circle, our Bethesda store in Wildwood Shopping Center, or online.

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