The sparkly white glow of a diamond has captivated us for centuries as a symbol of enduring romance and commitment. Increasingly popular lab-grown diamonds aim to offer an ethical, affordable alternative to mined gems, using advanced technology to essentially manufacture diamonds above ground. However, misconceptions exist about lab-created diamonds always appearing in perfectly colorless shades rivaling top-tier natural options. When selecting a cultured diamond, color remains one of the most critical factors determining its beauty and value. Let's explore what contributes to lab diamond color, grading scales, visible tints, expert buying tips, and maintenance to keep your diamond dazzling brightly forever.
What Is Diamond Color in 4Cs?
The diamond color stands as one of the 4Cs - cut, clarity, color, and carat weight - which are the top factors evaluating a diamond's excellence. Independent gem certification labs like GIA and IGI grade every diamond's color based on professional comparisons to benchmarked master reference stones under controlled lighting conditions. This color analysis is denoted on the diamond's grading report.
Whiter diamonds with less noticeable yellow, brown, or grey tones receive higher color ratings, with the best designated as colorless. These highest color grades in top colorless categories result in substantially higher pricing for diamonds of equal carat sizes and cut/clarity ratings. Less color means more beauty, desirability, and value.
Additionally, the ring metal can inflect hues onto the diamond, so grading aims to score just the stone's inherent color. Experts factor in setting colors when making recommendations best showcasing a diamond's luminosity. Understanding diamond color concepts allows spotting quality and value based on this key characteristic documented on reports.
Lab-Grown Growth Methods: How It Affects the Color
Lab diamonds are produced through two main technological processes - HPHT and CVD:
HPHT (high pressure, high temperature) simulates underground conditions using extreme heat/pressure to grow diamonds from an initial seed crystal. This forces crystallization resulting in sparkling gems.
CVD (chemical vapor deposition) utilizes lower heat but still rigorously controlled conditions to deposit carbon gas compounds onto a base surface and build diamond crystal layers gradually atom by atom.
HPHT natively yields diamonds with better, more colorless innate properties closer to top-graded gems not require additional enhancements. Meanwhile, as-grown CVD diamonds tend to exhibit more noticeable yellow/brown defects acquired during initial production.
Some CVD producers apply post-growth high heat/pressure treatments trying to correct these imperfections, resulting in improved color. However, experts still recommend choosing "as-grown" HPHT diamonds without any treatments for diamonds with the best possible color. This requires double-checking certificate documentation for growth method specifics when sourcing diamonds. Knowing production techniques helps pick an ideal color.
What Are Colors in Lab-Grown Diamonds?
While striving toward colorless, lab-created diamonds tend to exhibit tinges of yellow and sometimes blue depending on growth factors. Their testing incorporates advanced spectroscopy and microscopic analyses, identifying specific chemical irregularities responsible for introducing color tints. These include:
- Nitrogen Impurities – Besides pure carbon, lab diamond growth introduces trace elements like nitrogen residues. This nitrogen content commonly lends a pale yellowish tint to diamonds.
- Boron Exposure– Meanwhile, isolated blue tints arise from boron interactions during some growth recipes. This boron incorporation stems from diamond seed, precursor gases, or production reactor conditions.
Importantly, the prominence of these tints significantly depends on the overall color grade. Lower-quality grades exhibit readily visible saturation, while only the keenest expert inspection might notice indications of tints in higher colorless grades.
Lab-Grown Diamond Color Grading Scales
Lab diamonds utilize the same color grading terminology and benchmarks defined by the GIA/IGI as their natural counterparts. This grading system spans from completely colorless to light yellow/brown shades, encompassing both the highest prized transparent gems as well as cheaper stones displaying noticeable hues.
Breakdown of Color Categories:
- D-F– Considered colorless, with just minute differences detected among super ideal options only by specialized comparisons
- G-H– Deemed near-colorless; these represent diamonds still appearing quite transparent, with faint warmth possibly visible upon close detailed inspection
- I-J– Classified as almost colorless, though the faintest yellow and brownish tones start becoming apparent even to untrained eyes
- K+– Lower grades down the scale beginning to show overt, visually distinct color saturation
Notably, every grade encompasses overlapping sub-ranges as well. A high I grade diamond could rival one graded lower in the near colorless categories due to subtleties in shading not always captured during assessments.
How to Choose Among Sub-Grades in Lab Diamonds
Within each GIA/IGI color grade classification, overlapping sub-ranges exist capturing subtle color variations between diamonds earning the same grade. By comparing options side-by-side in person when possible, slight differences become apparent even within the same scored bracket.
Based on noticeable warmth traces, lab diamonds qualify into high, middle, or low sub-categories for every grade label. The top sub-ranges represent that grade's "peak" diamonds exhibiting the absolute minimum visual color indicators for that classification. These maximize apparent whiteness perceptions at their grade level.
Conversely, lower sub-ranges start revealing somewhat more yellowish or brownish cast at equivalent carat sizes, while still rating within the ascribed color grade boundaries. Subtleties abound when comparing high versus lower sub-grades sharing the same headline grade ranking.
When shopping and choosing a lab diamond, prioritizing higher sub-ranges for a target grade better optimizes selecting diamonds with the most imperceptible warm undertones affordable for your budget. Comparing sub-grade variations allows finding the best diamond with the least visible color influences relative to the grade's overall classification.
Expert Tips for Buying Lab-Grown Diamonds
When purchasing a diamond, overlooking professional guidance may be hazardous to your budget. The pros share their secrets to wisely navigating lab-created diamond colors.
1. Mind the Visible Tints
Depending on preference and budget aims, experts recommend a minimum color grade of G or H before yellow tints seem faintly evident in lab diamonds, with high sub-ranges ideal. However, prioritizing elevated color does reduce feasible carat sizes in a given price bracket. Determine priorities around maximizing physical size versus color score.
2. Carefully Inspect Before You Buy
Rectify apparent certificate scores against real-world performance through in-person evaluations when possible. Grading often occurs prior to diamond polishing/setting, with mounted comparisons under varied lighting most indicative of eye-visible results. What looks near-colorless on paper might show slightly more warmth set in certain ring metals and lighting conditions.
3. Enhance Diamond Visibility
The band metal chosen alongside the diamond dramatically impacts perceived color, with white metals like platinum best emphasizing a diamond's clarity. Meanwhile, warmer metals like yellow gold can inflect surrounding hints of matching tones onto an otherwise colorless diamond. Consider the setting's color influence on the diamond when selecting for maximum sparkle factor.
Does Color Grade Affect the Price?
As with natural diamonds, lab-grown diamond values closely correlate with scored coloration levels. According to the 4Cs excellence benchmarks of cut, clarity, color, and carat for gemstones, analyzing thousands of stones demonstrates significantly escalating prices for higher color rankings once all other factors get equalized. However, the price premium between consecutive color grades shrinks moving up the colorless scale, given the tinier differences distinguishing ultra-elite rankings. Additionally, above grade H near-colorless, differences between lab and natural prices substantially narrow thanks to lab technological improvements.
Yet across all color categories spanning distinct yellows through exceptional whites, whiter lab diamonds command substantial financial premiums over more tinted low-color options.
How to Keep Your Lab-Grown Diamond Shining Bright
To preserve your lab diamond's stunning brilliance over the long term, utilize these care and maintenance methods:
- Use designated diamond jewelry cleaner products for safe cleaning
- Store properly in secure ring holders, slots, or boxes to prevent scratching
- Seek professional ultrasonic cleanings annually to dissolve built-up dirt and oils
- Gently polish away minor scratches using a jeweler's rouge buffing cloth
- Check diamond documentation for any special care recommendations
- Implement routine care habits like proper storage, cleaning, and occasional professional polishing
- Avoid wearing diamond jewelry when engaging in rough, abrasive activities or sports
- Confirm appropriate methods for your ring settings like channel set or prong set diamonds
By following these best practice cleaning, storing, and maintenance guidelines, your lab diamond jewelry retains its optical excellence and unbelievable brilliance for lifetime enjoyment.
Lab-grown diamond technology keeps reaching new heights in efficiently producing environmentally ethical diamond alternatives. When selecting a manmade diamond, the D-Z color scale provides familiar benchmarks indicating diamonds with exceptional transparency down to subtle yellow and brown tints. Seek options with negligible eye-visible imperfections by targeting higher color classifications, while balancing priorities around physical size. With some diligence in choosing settings minimizing color appearance influences, alongside proper lifetime care, lab diamonds offer relatively affordable, consciously-sourced gems emulating the most elite diamond aesthetics. Your custom creation harnesses the full fire and brilliance deserving of life's precious moments.