A jewelers tweezers gently hold a diamond ring as they inspect its qualities

Publish Date: October 20, 2020

A diamond is the world’s most enduring symbol of love. Whether you’re celebrating a milestone anniversary or making an everyday moment sparkle, there are now more ways than ever to find the diamond that tells your unique story. Today, lab-grown diamonds and diamond alternatives are growing in popularity as more affordable options to natural diamonds.

Learn more about the differences between natural diamonds and lab-created diamonds, and explore some of the most popular diamond alternatives, so you can find the diamond option that’s right for you.




Lab-created diamonds (also referred to as lab-grown or man-made diamonds) possess the same optical, chemical, and physical properties as a natural diamond. To the untrained eye, the differences between natural and lab-created diamonds are virtually indistinguishable. What sets them apart, however, are their origin and the time they took to form.

Natural diamonds are formed over billions of years deep below the earth’s surface, under extreme pressure and high temperature. They rise and become accessible by volcanic eruption.

Lab-created diamonds are produced in a lab within weeks or months, using specialized technology that mimics the extreme heat and pressure of a natural diamond’s growing environment.

Rough cut natural diamond and lab-created diamond


Find out how natural diamonds and lab-created diamonds compare, so you can decide which option is right for you.

KAY Diamond Comparison Natural Diamonds Lab-Created Diamonds
Is it a Diamond? Yes Yes
Primary Chemical Composition Carbon Carbon
Source The Earth A Laboratory
Time to Create 1 to 3 Billion Years Several Weeks to Months
Supply/Rarity Finite and Rare Unknown at this Time
Independently Certified Yes* Yes*
100% Conflict-Free Yes Yes
KAY Responsible Sourcing Commitment Yes Yes
Industry Sourcing Standards Established Yes In Development
Included in the Lifetime Diamond Commitment Yes Yes
Eligible for Trade-In Yes No
Price Comparison (of comparable quality and size) $$$ $$
*Select styles & carat weights



Whether natural or lab-created, all of our diamonds are 100% conflict-free. Each is transformed by our experts, who map, cut, and polish the diamond from its rough form to bring to life the precious stone’s unique sparkle, fire, and brilliance.




While diamond alternatives (also known as diamond simulants) are made to look like the real deal, they have very different chemical and physical properties. As their name implies, simulant diamonds merely imitate the appearance of a diamond, and generally do not possess the same level of brilliance or durability as natural or lab-created diamonds. However, diamond alternatives are an excellent budget-friendly option.

White sapphire earrings



White sapphire is available in natural and lab-created varieties. Natural white sapphires are typically more expensive than lab-created stones, but they can look milkier and have visible inclusions.  Lab-created white sapphires  are clearer and more affordable than their natural counterparts. White sapphires are very durable, but they are not nearly as brilliant, fiery, or sparkly as a diamond.

Pearl necklace featuring cubic zirconia stones



Cubic zirconia is probably the most commonly known diamond alternative. CZ is often found in children’s and costume jewelry, but it is sometimes used in placeholder and lower quality engagement rings. It is an artificially produced version of the element zircon. Colorless CZ is common, but its brilliance is easily diminished when it gets dirty. It weighs almost twice as much as a diamond, and, like moissanite, has a lot of fire. It is often cut with larger facets to make the fire less noticeable, but those large facets can also make it look more artificial. CZ has good hardness, but it scratches more easily than a diamond.

Shining moissanite gemstone



Moissanite is a silicon carbide crystal that’s made in a lab. It is extremely hard, but still more likely to scratch than a diamond. It has a lot of fire—a rainbow effect seen when light hits the stone—but moissanite lacks the brilliance and sparkle of a diamond. This rainbow effect can also make it look more artificial. Many moissanites are colorless, but it is more susceptible to color changes from heat. The color likely won’t hold up as well as a diamond over time. KAY does not offer moissanite products at this time.


Not sure which diamond cut is right for you? Connect with KAY for one-on-one expert advice! Simply book a virtual or in-store appointment at a set time convenient for you.

DIAMOND Education from the Experts

White gold and diamond rings laying side by side


Get answers to your most frequently asked questions about lab-created diamonds here.

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