Understanding what the main 3 diamond types are, is important if you’re shopping for a piece of diamond jewellery. When you buy a diamond gift, you want your gift recipient to love it. On top of that, diamonds are expensive, so you’ll want to get the best possible deal.
But because there are so many different types of diamonds offered by jewellery retailers, it can be hard to know what the best choice is. That’s why in this article we’ll simplify this complex topic and take you through the main 3 different diamond types, the benefits and advantages of each one, their quality and price, and who they are most suited to.
What are the 3 diamond types?
The 3 types of real diamonds that exist are mined diamonds, lab grown diamonds and fancy coloured diamonds. Each type offers different benefits, qualities, prices and properties, which we’ll cover in detail below.
What about different diamond cuts, shapes or qualities?
If you want to find out more about different types of diamond cuts or shapes, this topic is covered in our article What is the best diamond cut or shape? On the other hand, diamond qualities are explained in our Diamond Buying Guide.
1. Diamond Type – Mined Diamonds
What is a mined diamond?
This is the best know diamond type. Mined diamonds are exactly what the name suggests: diamonds that have been mined from the ground. You might ask, but aren’t all diamonds mined? The answer is no. That’s why it is necessary to make this distinction. There is also a type of diamond that is not mined. Read more about it below, under Lab Grown Diamonds.
Where do mined diamonds come from?
Mined diamonds were formed by Mother Nature around three billion years ago. First, carbon atoms were subjected to intense heat and pressure deep within the earth, creating hard, transparent crystals, known as diamonds. Later, volcanic forces pushed these crystals closer to the Earth’s surface through what geologists call kimberlite pipes.
It is at the site of these kimberlite pipes where diamonds are mined. Once diamonds are extracted from the ground, they’re sorted, cut and polished, before being sold wholesale to jewellery designers and retailers for use in jewellery.
What are the benefits of mined diamonds?
Mined diamonds have three main benefits. Firstly, they are incredibly rare, compared to any other types of mineral. This makes them highly desirable and valuable. Secondly, diamonds are incredibly sparkly and beautiful. This makes them ideal for jewellery.
Thirdly, diamonds are the hardest of all minerals, which means that an item of diamond jewellery, if cared for properly, will literally last forever. It is this combination of beauty, rarity and timelessness that people value in diamonds.
What are the disadvantages of mined diamonds?
The main disadvantage of mined diamonds is their price; they do not come cheap because they are very rare.
Who are mined diamonds suited to?
This type of diamond is perfect for anybody who appreciates the rare, timeless nature of diamonds and likes to own or wear luxurious accessories.
How to choose the best mined diamond?
Choosing the right diamond depends on its quality. This is a huge topic to cover, so we recommend you next read our quick and easy Diamond Buying Guide which offers simple tips to help you choose the right diamond for you.
Read more about mined diamonds
Where to shop mined diamonds?
Discover a huge selection of diamond rings, earrings, bracelets and necklaces here:
See stud earrings made with mined diamonds in this video:
2. Diamond Type – Lab Grown Diamonds
What is a lab grown diamond?
Some people incorrectly assume that lab grown diamonds are not real diamonds. This is not so. Lab grown diamonds are real diamonds, just like mined diamonds. Consisting of carbon atoms in a lattice crystal structure, they look the same, and they’re just as hard, beautiful and sparkly. Only their origin is different. Instead of forming underneath the Earth’s crust a long time ago, they are created in a laboratory today.
Where do lab grown diamonds come from?
As their name suggests, scientists develop lab grown diamonds in laboratories. There are two different high tech processes that scientists can use to form this type of diamonds. They both start with a mined diamond “seed”that is introduced to carbon atoms and then subjected to intense heat.
This process replicates the way diamonds formed naturally all those billions of years ago. The lab diamond gradually grows in size over several weeks. Once the rough lab diamond has grown to its desired size, it is then cut, polished and set in jewellery.
What are the benefits of lab grown diamonds?
There are two distinct benefits to lab grown diamonds. Firstly, this diamond type is very affordable compared to mined diamonds. You can buy up to a 50% bigger lab grown diamond for your budget. Plus lab diamonds come in higher qualities so you’ll get a brighter, whiter, more radiant diamond for the same money.
Secondly, diamonds created by scientists in a laboratory are environmentally sustainable and socially ethical. Diamond mining has an environmental or social impact, which lab diamonds don’t.
What are the disadvantages of lab grown diamonds?
The disadvantage of lab diamonds is the idea that they are a product of science that human can make at any time, rather than one-off, rare gems formed billions of years ago within the Earth. Although lab diamonds are by no means cheap (they are a luxury product), the way they are created decreases their perceived value.
Who are lab grown diamonds suited to?
Firstly, if you want a bigger, higher quality diamond (than what you could afford if you were buying a mined diamond), then a lab diamond is a no-brainer for you. Secondly, and most importantly for many people, by choosing an environmentally ethical and sustainable lab grown diamond, you’re protecting our world for future generations.
Read more about lab grown diamonds
Read our extensive guide What Are Lab Grown Diamonds? to learn more about this type of diamonds.
Where to buy lab grown diamonds
Discover our selection of lab grown rings, earrings, bracelets and necklaces here:
See a necklace made with lab grown diamonds in this video:
3. Diamond Type – Fancy Coloured Diamonds
What is a fancy diamond?
“Fancy diamonds” is the name that gemmologists give to coloured diamonds. Note, that fancy diamonds refer to mined diamonds. This type of diamond comes out of the Earth displaying natural colour. As opposed to the white (transparent) diamonds that we’re more accustomed to seeing, fancy diamonds are mined in natural shades of pink, blue, yellow, brown and black.
Where do fancy diamonds come from?
Because fancy coloured diamonds are a type of diamond that is mined, this means that they were formed within the Earth about three billion years ago – as we covered in the first section above. However, there is a slight difference in their natural formation, which results in them displaying colour, rather than being transparent.
- In the case of blue, green, yellow, brown and black diamonds, trace elements such as nitrogen, sulphur, and boron interacted with the carbon atoms while they formed, producing different colours.
- In the case of pink diamonds, the colour is caused by a distortion in the diamond’s crystal lattice. This distortion was a result of intense pressure from all directions after the diamond’s formation. It alters the way a diamond reflects light and makes us see it as pink, instead of transparent.
What are the benefits of fancy diamonds?
Fancy diamonds are the rarest of all diamond types. This makes them extremely valuable. It is not a coincidence that many celebrities choose yellow or pink diamond engagement rings. They are the ultimate, coveted symbol of luxury and status.
What are the disadvantages of fancy diamonds?
As you may have guessed, the main disadvantage of fancy diamonds is their price. Natural coloured diamonds are much harder to find than white diamonds. Therefore, the fancy diamond type does not come cheap.
Who are fancy diamonds suited to?
Most people love white diamonds. However, if you’re looking for something unique and rare that very few other people own, then fancy diamonds are for you. This type of diamond offers unparalleled luxury.
Read more about fancy diamonds
Read our full Guide to Fancy Coloured Diamonds to learn more about their prices, quality and benefits.
Where to buy fancy diamonds?
Discover a selection of fancy coloured diamond rings, earrings and necklaces here:
See what a yellow fancy diamond looks like in this video:
What about synthetic stones? Are these diamond types?
Synthetic diamonds, also called imitation, simulant or fake diamonds, are sometimes described as types of diamonds.
But they are not real diamonds. They have a completely different chemical and physical composition, hardness (or lack of it) and look compared to real diamonds, which jewellers and gemmologists can detect easily.
That’s why we cannot include these stones in our list of diamond types.
The most common imitation diamonds are rhinestones made of glass and cubic zirconia (often denoted as CZ), both artificial materials. Synthetic moissanite, strontium titanate and simulant rutile have also been used as diamond substitutes. None of these, however, are real diamonds.
It is important to note that lab grown diamonds, whilst man-made, are distinct from imitation stones. Gemmologists classify them as real diamonds because they are physically, chemically and optically exactly the same as mined diamonds.
Verdict – Which of the 3 diamond types is best?
You have now learned that the main 3 diamond types that exist are mined diamonds, lab grown diamonds and fancy coloured diamonds. But which one is best? This depends on your personal requirements and what you value the most.
- Mined diamonds. This type of diamond is the classic choice if you want to own a rare, timeless precious stone and have the money to spend on it.
- Lab grown diamonds. This type of diamond is an affordable yet high-quality choice. It is also the perfect option if you are environmentally and socially conscious.
- Fancy coloured diamonds. This type of diamond is perfect for you if you’re looking for a unique and ultra-luxurious jewellery item that not everybody can own.
Whichever diamond you choose will be the perfect one for you. Only you can weigh up the value and benefits of each one. Ultimately, the best thing is that you have three different options to choose from.