An engagement ring or a home down payment? Why some young couples are proposing with lab diamonds. – by Erin McCarthy (Philadelphia Inquirer – August 22, 2023)

Even jewelers can’t tell the difference between lab and mined diamonds with the naked eye. More than a third of couples married last year went with lab-grown engagement rings.

Years before Jasmine Ma and her fiancé, Ricky Chen, stepped foot into a jewelry store — before they had even talked seriously about marriage — Ma made one thing clear: She didn’t want a mined-diamond engagement ring.

“If he was going to put his money toward this, I’d prefer he get something lab-grown,” she said. Not only would they be able to get a larger stone for less money, but she’d also feel better about the decision ethically, Ma said she told him, due to diamond mining’s history of human rights violations.

The 27-year-old got her wish earlier this month when Chen dropped to one knee and asked her to marry him with a custom ring from L. Priori Jewelry featuring a 1.5-carat oval lab diamond as the center stone.

Ma doesn’t know how much Chen spent, she said, but lab-grown diamonds typically cost 50% to 70% less than mined diamonds, despite being chemically and physically identical. Aesthetically, the difference between the two is undetectable to the naked eye. (Professionals can use a special instrument to determine whether a diamond is lab-grown.)

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