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Natural or Not?

The American Gem Society’s Laboratory-Grown Diamond Resource Page

With the growing interest in laboratory-grown diamonds, you may receive inquiries from your customers. It’s important to have answers ready should they have concerns about the jewelry they have already purchased or about new purchases.

On this page, you’ll find additional resources to help you learn how to develop your own policy and respond to customers regarding laboratory-grown diamonds and their detection.

Your customers look to you for assurance on the jewelry they purchase. For example, they may ask questions related to media reports about laboratory-grown diamonds being difficult to detect with the naked eye and requiring specialized screening equipment.

When appropriate, discuss the positive aspects of our industry and the good work it does. Such as, if you’ve traveled to a diamond mine, explain how the industry has helped the local communities or how you have seen the industry’s impact firsthand. For additional ideas on how this conversation might unfold and ways you can emphasize all the good our industry does, click here.

Process and Policy for In-store Screening Equipment

Having set policies and procedures is one of the easiest ways to communicate confidence to your customer. Click the link below to view a few suggestions.

  • These procedures should include the use of diamond screening equipment. The accuracy of this equipment is ultimately important and needs to be conveyed to your customers.
  • Some screening equipment will not state if a diamond is laboratory grown. It may, however, provide a “refer” result. “Refer” means that the stone being tested could be laboratory grown, a diamond simulant, or possibly a natural diamond based on how the equipment works.
  • There are recommended thresholds for the rate that a diamond will refer and what is called the “false positive rate.”
    • The false positive rate is important because it provides the rate at which laboratory-grown diamonds or diamond simulants will be reported as natural, which is an issue.
      • The recommended thresholds for these rates are based on the Assure Directory developed by Natural Diamond Council and are listed here (please scroll down the page to “Approved Diamond Screening Equipment”).
      • Ideally, the false positive rate should be 0% and the referral rate should be less than 5%.
    • Knowledge of the equipment’s accuracy is important when creating a policy. Instruments that provide a “Pass” or “Refer” result should not show a “Pass” result unless it is a natural diamond and only if it has a 0% false positive rate.
      • Any higher false positive rate could allow some laboratory-grown diamonds or simulants to be mistaken for natural diamonds. These instruments generally do not give a conclusive determination for laboratory-grown diamonds, which would be reported as “Refer.”

While we understand that this is not always possible, we recommend having more than one piece of equipment to provide more in-depth screening so you can compare results should they vary. For the most reliable information, we recommend sending a diamond to a diamond grading lab for screening.

Sample Q&A

Below are sample questions and suggested responses to inquiries about natural and laboratory-grown diamonds. 

We stand behind everything we sell! At [XXX] Jewelers, we [insert store policy and procedures].

Our goal is to maintain our product integrity by ensuring that what we sell is what we say it is and by offering [insert offerings if applicable like responsibly-sourced jewelry, diamonds with origin reports].

  • You can also discuss your AGS membership: Our store is a member of the American Gem Society, a nonprofit dedicated to consumer protection.
  • As members, we adhere to a code of ethics that follows all governing laws and ensures that you buy from jewelers with the knowledge and skill to help you make the most informed buying decision.
  • This includes giving full disclosures on all the jewelry we sell and resolving any customer complaints relating to the sale of jewelry.

Possible answers based on the situation:

  • I am happy to help! I can arrange to have it sent to a grading laboratory. They have experts and the equipment needed to help determine if your diamond is natural or laboratory grown.
  • I would love to help you in any way I can. However, I encourage you to take it back to the retailer you purchased it from.
  • If applicable: We offer a screening service; I’d be happy to screen your jewelry.
    • If it tests as laboratory grown or has a “refer” result: My screening device showed X, so I suggest the piece be sent to a grading laboratory. I can arrange that for you.
    • If it is natural: Your diamond has passed as natural in our screening process. The equipment helps us to screen for natural or laboratory grown, and we are confident in the accuracy of detecting natural diamonds. However, if you would like additional testing, I can arrange to have your diamond sent to a grading laboratory.

There are laboratory-grown diamonds or other materials that look similar to diamonds such as moissanite, cubic zirconia, and crystal, but we will not sell you one without disclosing it.

Our policy is to disclose all treatments and types of gems and materials. In our store, if we show you a laboratory-grown diamond, we’ll let you know it’s laboratory grown.

You may also want to discuss or reiterate your policy and procedures or offer to test. See the previous question for suggestions.

Most diamond grading laboratories have the equipment it takes to decide if it’s natural or not.

In most cases, testing for laboratory-grown diamonds requires expert gemologists with high-tech equipment that follows specific testing protocols to differentiate between natural and laboratory-grown diamonds.

It takes a lot of training, experience, and knowledge of diamond growth, chemistry, and optical properties to make a conclusive determination.

If applicable: If you feel that you want your diamond looked at by a lab, this is a service we can provide for you.

I wouldn’t be in the industry if it were! The jewelry industry has many good people and positively impacts communities worldwide.

I’m a member of the American Gem Society (AGS), a nonprofit association dedicated to consumer protection, a high standard of ethics, and ongoing education. In addition to AGS, there are jewelry associations dedicated to helping people, like:

  • Jewelers For Children (JFC), a nonprofit organization, has donated more than $60 million to help children who are victims of catastrophic illness or life-threatening abuse and neglect. Our industry is very supportive of JFC and has helped raise millions to help support them.
    • The support from the jewelry industry has allowed for more than 2,000 children to be granted wishes in the U.S. and more than 12,000 to have their wish granted in India. More than 56,000 children in foster care have been helped and more than 125,000 women have received support at clinics in developing countries.
    • This support has also provided for a bone marrow transplant unit, a chair in Genes and Genetic therapy and a stem cell transplant laboratory, all providing for hundreds of children to be treated for deadly cancers.
  • Diamonds Do Good is another excellent organization. They are a global nonprofit with a mission to support programs that develop and empower people in natural diamond communities.
    • Their mission supports initiatives that develop and empower people in diamond communities worldwide; the organization looks to fund programs that have proven success in providing youth with high-quality education, including leadership development and entrepreneurial skills building.
    • From the Northwest Territories of Canada to Surat, India, where 9 out of 10 diamonds are polished, Diamonds Do Good is committed to giving back where diamonds are mined, cut, polished, and sold.
  • Gem Legacy is a charitable nonprofit that supports vocational training, entrepreneurship, and community development in East African artisanal gem mining communities.
    • 100% of every donation goes direct to initiatives
    • Gem Legacy is also trying to raise money to help prevent silicosis by providing miners with proper masks and filters can prevent inhalation of silica dust.
  • You can contact the Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC). They assist consumers and members with jewelry purchase-related disputes. Their website is jvclegal.org.
  • If the jeweler is a member of the American Gem Society, you can file a grievance with them. Contact membership@ags.org.

We vet all our vendors to ensure they adhere to responsible sourcing practices. We do an audit, as well, asking them to let us know, in writing, whether they sell undisclosed synthetic or treated diamonds. If they do not comply, it can impact our business relationship with them.

Yes, we do. We require all vendors to screen and test their jewelry and disclose any treatment or whether the gem is natural or not.

Additional Information

One way to put your customer at ease is to discuss your affiliation with AGS, a nonprofit dedicated to consumer protection and ethics. You can also discuss your credentials, the number of AGS titleholders on staff, and the annual education requirements you fulfill to maintain your AGS title. Sample language:
  • I am a credentialed jeweler with the American Gem Society (AGS). To maintain my credentials, I am required to recertify annually. Recertifying shows my commitment to you by ensuring you are shopping with a knowledgeable, ethical jeweler who stays on top of their training.
  • Being a credentialed member of AGS is one way I can demonstrate to my customers that they are working with a jewelry professional who truly understands jewelry, diamonds, and gemstones and that I’m committed to the highest standards of ethical practice.
  • Our store takes our credentials very seriously. We have [insert number of store titleholders] titleholders on our team, and all are committed to the same high standards of ethics and consumer protection.

Quick Talking Points

Laboratory-grown diamonds are a blend of science and technology. They share essentially the same properties as a natural diamond chemically, physically, and optically. Here are a few quick facts that may be helpful in discussing the difference between natural or laboratory grown with your customers.

  • The scientific definition of a diamond is pure carbon crystallized in the isometric system. Both natural and laboratory-grown diamonds are diamonds.
  • Natural diamonds are formed in the earth. Their growth occurred over the span of billions of years under the surface of the earth.
  • Natural diamonds are sometimes referred to as “mined diamonds.”
  • Laboratory-grown diamonds carry almost identical characteristics optically, chemically, and physically as natural diamonds, but were grown in high-tech facilities.
  • Laboratory-grown diamonds growth requires constant energy using machinery in order to create them in a matter of weeks.
Purchase of a natural diamond helps local communities generate long-term sustainable development and a lasting positive legacy.  Here are two examples:

  • Botswana went from having one of the lowest socio-economic standards in all of sub-Saharan Africa before diamonds were discovered to now having the highest.  They have free schools, healthcare, and infrastructure like roads, thanks to good stewardship of their natural resources.
  • The natural diamond mining companies provide over $16 billion in total net benefit contributions, with $4 billion going towards salaries and benefits. These companies pay 4.8 times the living wage paid to the average worker. 60% of the value created benefits the communities directly and indirectly.
  • In most cases, detection requires expert gemologists with high-tech equipment following specific testing protocols to tell natural and laboratory-grown diamonds apart.
  • It takes a lot of training, experience, and knowledge of diamond growth, chemistry, and optical properties to make a conclusive determination.
  • Like natural diamonds, laboratory-grown diamonds range in price. There are no set prices for laboratory-grown diamonds.
  • Laboratory-grown diamonds must be graded before they are appraised—just like natural diamonds.
  • The production of laboratory-grown diamonds requires sophisticated machinery and expends tremendous electricity, often by the consumption of fossil fuels.
  • Natural diamonds are mined from kimberlite rock with a mechanical process that utilizes water and fossil fuels.
    • These diamonds present some of the cleanest forms of mining. It’s mainly reliant on mechanical processes due to the softness of the kimberlite rock where the diamonds are found. Of the the waste produced by diamond mining operations, 99% is rock. This waste is disposed of on-site and is reclaimed as part of the landscape during the mine closure and rehabilitation process.

Additional Resources Available to AGS Members

Send a customizable quality assurance template to your vendors. This simple step helps give assurance that your vendors are responsibly disclosing any laboratory-grown diamonds or treatments in the gemstones you buy from them.

Firms with the Accredited Gem Lab® (AGL) designation prove to their customers and clients that they are vested in thoroughly inspecting gemstones and jewelry. More importantly, each Accredited Gem Lab® must have an AGS titleholder on staff, with a minimum of a Certified Gemologist® (CG) or Certified Gemologist® Appraiser (CGA) title to oversee its use. This ensures that a fully-credentialed gemologist with the proper knowledge handles gemological testing and appraising.

You can also view our consumer page on laboratory-grown diamonds. There’s a short video you can show them and consumer-friendly FAQs.

Are there additional resources you’d like AGS to provide on laboratory-grown diamonds? Email your suggestions to marketing@ags.org.