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Brides say 'yes' to man-made diamonds

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

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

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

When he decided on the diamond, he had to make a choice.

“I definitely want a lab-grown one,” Neely said.

He chose a diamond made from a crystal in a carbon-filled oven.

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

“Based off my budget going in, it was probably about 50% to 60% of what I was intending to pay for the diamond itself,” he said.

It was affordable and better for the environment.

“She liked the sustainability,” Neely said. “She liked that no one's really getting harmed,” Neely said.

Owner and president of Pattons Jewelry, Kevin Patton, says you can not really spot the difference between natural and lab-grown diamonds, which is why Neely is one of many who is choosing a gem made above ground.

“It's been increasing every year,” Patton said. “We have currently about 40% of our clients for engagement rings are choosing lab diamonds for their center diamonds.”

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

“When they start with the seed crystal, it's a large kiln, an oven, huge piece of machinery, and they actually grow the diamond inside this 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're just growing in a different location.”

Neely says he’s happy with his choice.

“I still love it,” he said. “I'm always like, ‘hey, can I look at it really quick…I’m proud of myself a little bit because it looks really good on her hand."

He looks forward to seeing the ring as his bride walks down the aisle.

Patton expects more younger people to also buy lab-grown diamonds, but he says the natural diamonds are not going anywhere.


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