Brides say “yes” to synthetic diamonds

BATON ROUGE – Diamonds never go out of style, but a different type of diamond is shimmering on more and more ring fingers.

William Neely was sure to propose to his girlfriend but unsure which ring he wanted to pop the question with.

“I was between, I guess, the classic round and an oval coming up. Maybe, like a teardrop?” said Neely.

When he chose the diamond, he had to make a choice.

“I really want a lab product,” Neely said.

He chose a diamond made from a crystal in a furnace filled with carbon.

The lab-grown diamond is bigger and not as much as a natural diamond might cost.

“Based on my original budget, it was probably around 50% to 60% of what I intended to pay for the diamond itself,” he said.

It was affordable and better for the environment.

“She liked the durability,” Neely said. “She liked that no one really got hurt,” Neely said.

Pattons Jewelry owner and president Kevin Patton says you can’t really tell the difference between natural diamonds and lab-grown diamonds, which is why Neely is one of many to choose a piece of jewelry made above of the ground.

“It’s increased every year,” Patton said. “We currently have about 40% of our engagement ring customers choosing lab-grown diamonds for their center diamonds.”

While it takes centuries for a natural diamond to form, lab-grown diamonds can appear within weeks.

“When they start with the seed crystal, it’s a big kiln, a kiln, a huge piece of machinery, and they grow the diamond inside that piece of machinery,” he said.

Jewelers say these diamonds are the real deal.

“They really are diamonds,” Patton said. “They are chemically, physically, optically identical to what nature produces in the ground. They just grow in a different place.

Neely says he is happy with his choice.

“I still love her,” he said. “I’m always like, ‘hey, can I look at it really fast… I’m kind of proud of myself because it looks really good on his hand.’

He can’t wait to see the ring as his bride walks down the aisle.

Patton expects more young people to buy lab-grown diamonds as well, but he says natural diamonds aren’t going anywhere.

Sarah C. Figueiredo