Would you buy a lab-grown diamond?

Modern day alchemy can turn cheap gas into precious stones. These diamonds, grown in a laboratory, are so pure that they're virtually indistinguishable from natural stones... and they're cheaper as well. In a London lab, a diamond can be cultured in just a matter of days.

Professor Oliver Williams of Cardiff University makes diamond sheets for research into semi-conductors. But the same process can be used to grow gems.

In the middle of the glow of super-heated methane and hydrogen is a diamond growing a fracture of a millimetre every hour as carbon atoms from the gas build up on the crystal.

"It's actually man beating nature. We're perfecting it and doing it better than nature. So for me, there's an emotional thing to that too because it's an enormous accomplishment to grow a material that traditionally has been very difficult to grow," said Mr Williams.

Jeweller Savvy + Sand is one of the few to sell lab-grown diamonds alongside natural stones in London.

They make up less than 10 percent of the business for now but interest is growing, driven by environmental and human rights concerns over mining as well as price.

However for some customers when choosing a ring it's not just about the sparkle but also the story behind the stone. The rarity and mystique seem to compete with eco-friendly characteristics.

Are man-made diamonds real gemstones?

Lab-grown diamonds are hard to differentiate from the natural stones but they usually cost about 30-40 % less than natural diamonds.

These stones consist of actual carbon atoms as well, they are made using advanced technological processes that replicate the conditions in which diamonds develop in nature. It is called eco-friendly choice, as they are ethically grown with a decreased environmental impact and require no mining.

Ultimately the carbon in both natural and man-made diamonds comes from the same place and the stone only sparkles when cut. Now that there is so little to distinguish them, it might come down to the sentimental value of the ring itself.

Writer: Doloresz Katanich with AP

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