We’ll be the first to admit there’s something undeniably special about natural diamonds (after all, they truly are a girl’s best friend). But if you’re looking to get comparable sparkle out of your jewelry while saving a good chunk of money, you may want to go the lab grown diamond route.
Lab grown diamonds, which have surged in popularity in recent years, can be thousands of dollars cheaper than their natural counterparts—essentially since they’re considered “less rare.” Yet unlike simulated diamonds made from moissanite or cubic zirconia, lab grown diamonds are, indeed, very much real.
“Lab-grown diamonds are exactly the same on the molecular level as mined diamonds,” explains Meg Strachan, founder and CEO of emerging lab-grown diamond brand Dorsey. “Diamonds deemed ‘rare’ in mined terms can be created in lab-grown form that are just as beautiful as their counterparts and will cost much less. The ability to create diamonds and gemstones in the laboratory also means any color, cut, and clarity can be achieved,” she adds.
Adding to their appeal, lab grown diamonds may be a more ethical alternative to mined diamonds—an industry that’s notoriously been linked to the use of child labor and fueling conflict in war-torn areas. And thanks to innovations in technology, many brands making lab grown diamonds are doing better for the planet by minimizing or entirely eliminating their carbon emissions.
With all this in mind, we took it upon ourselves to curate a list of the best places to buy lab grown diamond jewelry in 2023. From gorgeous engagement rings in all shapes and sizes to an array of timeless baubles, these brands have tons of stunning pieces that make great graduation gifts, anniversary gifts, or fabulous treats for yourself. Keep scrolling to find styles you’ll cherish forever, and learn even more about lab grown diamonds via Strachan and two other lab grown diamond experts we consulted.
Social responsibility has remained at the core of Brilliant Earth’s business since its inception in 2005. The jewelry site offers conflict-free natural diamonds and lab grown diamonds that are ethically-sourced, set with recycled precious metals, and shipped in recycled packaging. Additionally, you can choose from a collection of Sustainably Rated lab grown diamonds, which have been certified to be climate neutral, traceable by origin, and associated with both sustainable and humane production practices. Moreover, the brand aims to certify 50 percent of its lab diamonds to an environmental product standard by 2025.
The label offers a wide assortment of sizes, cuts, colors, and prices and gives you the option to customize your lab grown diamond ring as well. Simply choose from a variety of popular shapes and settings then select your ring size. Or, opt to connect with one of the brand’s dedicated designers to bring your bespoke vision to life.
Price range: $-$$$$
Special services: Custom engagement rings, 360-degree viewing, free lifetime warranty, temporary setting option, free lifetime diamond upgrade, free ring resizing within 60 days of purchase
VRAI’s minimalistic designs are gaining traction among Hollywood’s elite, and it’s not hard to see why. For one, the brand partners with expert diamond cutters to help ensure its pieces are of the highest quality. Plus, they’re sustainably crafted in a zero-emission foundry with recycled gold and shipped in repurposed packing.
Depending on how much (or little) effort you want to put into designing an engagement ring, VRAI offers both customizable and custom services that are super efficient and easy to navigate. With the latter, you’ll work with a diamond expert who will create a CAD model of your dream ring, then craft the final product in just two weeks before shipping it to your door. Also, you can personalize your own lab grown pendant necklaces and stud earrings.
Price range: $-$$$$
Special services: Custom jewelry and engagement rings, custom ring sizer, lifetime warranty, free diamond upgrades
Aside from its collection of timeless tennis bracelets and pendant necklaces, New York-city based jewelry brand Liori Diamonds is a premiere destination for luxe lab grown diamond engagement rings and wedding bands. There are hundreds of ring styles available spanning from roughly $1,600 to over $100,000, with diamonds offered in up to a whopping 10 carats. Every piece comes with a certificate from top gemological labs around the country, so you can rest assured you’re getting the quality you’re paying for. And, you can try on select silhouettes at home for free before you commit.
If you’re looking to save, note that the brand has a killer sale section where you can score thousands of dollars off certain designs. All orders within the U.S. ship for free and enjoy complimentary returns as well.
Price range: $$-$$$$
Special services: Custom engagement rings, lifetime warranty, complimentary proof of certification from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), International Gemological Laboratory (AGI), or International Gemological Institute (IGI)
Female-founded brand Grown Brilliance is on a mission to make lab grown diamonds even more accessible to the general public. The label’s entire production process is done in-house, allowing it to offer competitive prices starting at just $150. Not to mention, the brand is making strides to achieve climate neutrality. Since the beginning of 2023, the brand has worked only with carbon-neutral facilities and has a goal to convert solely to renewable energy sources before the end of the year.
Grown Brilliance has a variety of lab-grown diamond and gemstone pieces, from simple to ornate fine jewelry and contemporary to classic wedding bands and engagement rings. For greater flexibility, you can custom-design your engagement ring or choose from a selection of loose lab grown diamonds—which can be filtered by shape, carat, color, cut, price, and clarity. According to Josh Sherman, vice president of marketing at Grown Brilliance, a majority of the brand’s diamonds are colorless (DEF) and VS2+ clarity.
Price range: $-$$$$
Special services: Custom engagement rings, engravings, free ring resizing within 30 days of purchase, lifetime warranty, price match
Blue Nile has remained one of the most respected online jewelry retailers for decades, so you can trust it delivers on its newer lab grown diamond offerings, too. It carries lab grown diamond engagement rings and wedding bands in a wide range of styles—from modern solitaire to elaborate, retro-leaning designs—plus a handful of classic pieces like tennis bracelets and pendants to fit any need or budget. All engagement rings can be viewed with a 360-degree feature online. Furthermore, the brand’s lab grown diamonds are GIA-certified.
Price range: $-$$$
Special services: GIA-certified diamonds, lifetime diamond upgrade, price match, custom engagement rings & jewelry
Another celeb-favorite brand sported by the likes of Taylor Swift and Hailey Bieber, L.A.-based newcomer Dorsey is one to watch for unique, affordable lab grown baubles. Inspired by Strachan’s grandmother’s collection of vintage costume jewelry, every diamond and gemstone piece is meticulously crafted with modern-meets-heritage flair and designed to endure as a personal treasure. Take, for example, the label’s chunky, sapphire-stacked hoops (only $190!) or this glitzy pear-cut choker) that’s perfect for layering or wearing alone as a statement piece. If customization is your thing, the label’s Riviere-style necklaces and bracelets can be altered by size, material, and stone type—with options to choose between a handful of standout gemstones like a stunning emerald or blue sapphire.
Price range: $-$$
Special services: Customizable jewelry, super affordable price points
You could say a knack for fine jewelry runs strong in Jean Dousset’s DNA. The great-great grandson of iconic jeweler Louis Cartier, Dousset gained decades of experience working for top jewelry brands like Chaumet, Alain Boucheron, and Van Cleef & Arpels before officially launching his eponymous line in 2020. Fleshing out his impressive resume, he’s even designed engagement rings for A-listers like Paris Hilton.
Dousset’s luxury brand focuses exclusively on lab grown diamond jewelry, using colorless, VS+ diamonds. What’s more, any stone over 1.5 carats is GIA-certified and comes with a certificate of validation with your purchase. For extra special detail, the label provides laser engraving and the option to add a hidden “Signature Stone”—signifying your partner’s birth month or a sentimental memory—to the inside of your engagement ring.
Price range: $$-$$$
Special services: GIA-certified diamonds, laser engraving, Signature Stone accent, lifetime warranty, complimentary ring resizing within first 6 months of purchase
Founded in 2017, Clean Origin is the brainchild of three jewelry industry veterans—including a third-generation diamond merchant who left behind the family business to pursue a more ethical way to make diamond jewelry. As part of its commitment to quality, the brand works with two leading gemological labs to validate the clarity, cut, color, and carat of its lab grown diamonds. And every customer service team member is required to have at least five years of jewelry experience to help guide you through the process. To top it all off, each order comes with free shipping and free returns within 100 days of your purchase. (FYI, you can add on the brand’s Forever Service Plan to enjoy free lifetime repairs, cleanings, and various other perks.)
In terms of its selection, the brand has a custom engagement ring service and range of dedicated ring designs organized by category—such as classic, vintage-inspired, and non-binary. You can also pick from various everyday and special occasion looks like elegant sparkly huggies, dainty stackable rings, and show-stopping tennis necklaces. Prices run the gamut, but if you’re seeking something super luxe, the brand carries 25-carat diamonds to include in the setting of your choice.
Price range: $-$$$$
Special services: Diamonds certified by IGI and Gem Certification and Assurance Lab (GCAL), free returns and ring resizing within 100 days of purchase
Made in Antwerp, Belgian—a.k.a. the diamond capital of the world—Or & Elle’s lab grown diamond baubles are nothing short of opulent. Whether you prefer something avant-garde or effortlessly traditional, the brand specializes in custom (and customizable) jewelry so you can find your perfect look. What’s more, the label carries an assortment of striking ready-to-wear pieces, from timeless tennis bracelets and glitzy tear-drop earrings to bold, art-deco-inspired rings. As an eco-friendly touch, each piece is crafted with recycled 18K gold.
Price range: $$-$$$$
Special services: Custom and customizable engagement rings and jewelry
In addition to being known for using conflict-free diamonds, classic jeweler James Allen has become a reputable source for lab grown diamonds. To help make your shopping easier, the brand offers a 360-view of any engagement ring or loose diamond online. Plus, you can magnify any stone up to 40 times to see its depth, clarity, and sparkle in even greater detail. It’s worth mentioning the brand has some of the most customizable engagement rings, too, available not only in a variety of cuts but also a handful of head and shank styles in six different metal finishes. Also up for grabs are a host of perennial adornments, like dainty constellation-shaped studs and adorable initial necklaces.
Price range: $-$$$$
Special services: Customizable engagement rings and jewelry, 360-degree display technology, 40X diamond magnification, one-year free resizing, free engraving on most engagement rings and wedding bands, free resizing within first year of purchase, lifetime warranty
How are lab grown diamonds made?
Sherman explains that lab grown diamonds are created in a laboratory through one of two processes: High Pressure/High Temperature (HPHT) or Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD). “HPHT replicates the natural formation of diamonds by subjecting carbon to high temperatures and pressing it together,” he says. “In CVD, a seed crystal chamber is filled with a mixture of hydrogen and methane gas, and the diamond grows on the seed crystal.”
“These chemical reactions allow a diamond to grow in a matter of weeks rather than thousands of years,” continues Lisa Rosen, CEO of the International Gem Society, a leading resource for gem professionals. “CVD is a more popular process for producing gem quality diamonds, while HPHT is more common for producing diamonds for industrial uses.”
Is it easy to tell the difference between lab grown and natural diamonds?
“It is nearly impossible for the naked eye to tell the difference between a faceted lab grown diamond and natural diamond,” says Rosen. “The only way to tell the difference is with very powerful and expensive lab equipment, which most independent jewelers won’t have in their store.”
Are lab grown diamonds actually a more socially responsible option?
“Lab grown diamonds are probably better for the environment, but they aren’t perfect,” notes Rosen. “On the one hand, there is no mining involved, so the negative environmental and biodiversity impacts from mining are avoided. On the other hand, it is extremely energy intensive to re-create the high-temperature, high-pressure environment needed to grow a diamond. Some lab-grown diamond producers claim to use renewable energy to grow their diamonds, so if a consumer is concerned about the environmental footprint of their diamond, they should buy from one of those producers.“
Both Rosen and Strachan agree blanket statements shouldn’t be made about all lab grown diamonds, but note that they can be a more ethical option, too. “Lab grown diamonds have found a large market with consumers concerned about illegally-traded ‘conflict diamonds’ used to finance wars or ‘blood diamonds’ mined with forced labor,” says Rosen, who points to Russia’s continued invasion of Ukraine as a cause of these growing concerns. “Russian-owned diamond mining company Alrosa makes billions of dollars in revenue each year from its diamond mines, and that revenue is supporting a Russian economy buckling under global sanctions. While many large retailers like Tiffany’s have announced that they won’t buy diamonds cut from Alrosa diamond rough, the lack of transparency in the diamond supply chain and loopholes in sanctions specifically related to diamonds and gemstones means it is difficult to guarantee that a diamond wasn’t mined in Russia. Now, consumers know the only way they can avoid buying a conflict diamond is to purchase a lab grown diamond.”
Sherman adds that all lab-grown diamonds are laser engraved with a serial number, making it “possible to know with certainty where each stone came from.”
What should one look for in the best lab grown diamonds? How can you tell they’re worth their price tag?
“Lab grown diamonds are graded exactly the same as natural diamonds using the 4Cs: cut, color, clarity, and carat weight,” explains Sherman. “Cut doesn’t refer to the diamond shape, but determines how well the diamond captures and refracts the light to produce that brilliant diamond sparkle. When looking for the perfect diamond, you actually want to look for the one with the least amount of color. The normal color scale runs from D to J, from colorless to near colorless, so the closer to D the more valuable the diamond. Clarity refers to the flaws or inclusions on and within a diamond. Flaws can impact the stone’s ability to let the light pass through, so the fewer flaws, the more brilliant the sparkle. Carat refers to the diamond weight, not the size. Remember, however, that a high carat doesn’t always equate to a better, sparklier diamond if said diamond is not well-cut.”
Of course, the higher quality the diamond, the more expensive it will be—so always factor in your budget. Ask yourself a few questions, Sherman advises: “Does size matter most? Does scintillation? Are you willing to sacrifice a small tint in color for a larger stone? While the 4Cs can provide you with general guidelines, it’s important that you know what you want and what choices you’re willing to make to find your perfect diamond.”
Rosen also suggests there’s a “5th C” to consider: “Make sure that any diamond you purchase comes with a grading report,” she says. Trusted gemological institutes like the GIA and IGI have certification labs that grade qualities such as the color and clarity of lab grown diamonds to help inform shoppers’ purchases.
Additionally, keep in mind the setting of the jewelry. “Pay attention to the metal the lab-grown diamond is set in, such as 14kt gold, to ensure the piece lasts a lifetime,” says Strachan. Finally, remember that “each cut speaks to a different personality trait and style, so it’s key to understand those before purchasing a diamond for yourself or a loved one,” advises Rosen.
Are there any drawbacks to buying lab grown diamonds?
“Due to the rapid decline in the cost to produce lab grown diamonds combined with the growing supply of them, lab grown diamonds will not hold their value as well as a natural diamond,” says Rosen. But if you’re thinking of buying natural diamonds in the hopes of reaping a profit on them later, you may want to re-consider. “Natural diamonds rarely appreciate in value, and it’s unlikely that a consumer will recoup their original purchase price on them,” Rosen warns. “This is true even if the stone is appraised for the same or more than the purchase price.”
Meet the experts
- Josh Sherman is the Vice President of Marketing at Grown Brilliance.
- Lisa Rosen is the CEO of the International Gem Society.
- Meg Strachan is the founder and CEO of Dorsey.
Why Trust ELLE?
Sam Peters is a seasoned commerce writer and editor with over five years of experience covering beauty, fashion, and lifestyle topics. For this piece, she spoke with three lab grown diamond experts to learn about the benefits of buying lab grown diamonds and what to look for when shopping.
Senior Commerce Editor
Sam Peters is a Senior Commerce Editor at Hearst covering fashion, beauty and lifestyle. Her writing has appeared in WWD, Footwear News, Real Simple, PopSugar and Bridal Guide, among others. She enjoys unpacking the latest trends and testing and reviewing some of the most innovative, emerging products on the market.