Elmhurst jewelry store selling popular lab grown diamonds

FOX 32 NEWS - You need a career to afford diamonds these days. But now, man-made diamonds are an option.

Lab grown diamonds are gaining in popularity and not only for their beauty, but also for being eco friendly

They may be known as a girl’s best friend, but they could also be a man's worst nightmare when it comes to sticker shock. Enter lab grown diamonds: grown on demand in just three months that can cost 15-30 percent less.

"The lab grown diamonds that Pure Grown Diamonds are producing are type 2A quality and we find those in Earth are really, really rare ...less than 1% of all diamonds found exhibit those qualities,” said Drew Hill.

They are the type of quality diamonds he says that only the ultra-rich and royalty could once afford.

Drew Hill owns Cottage Hill Diamonds with his family. His company is just one of several in the U.S. now selling lab grown diamonds. While imitation diamonds have been around for a long time, think cubic zirconium; recent advances have led to a boom in the production of high end lab grown gems.

Here’s how it works: diamonds are usually formed over billions of years below the earth's crust. But it only takes 6-12 weeks to produce a diamond in the lab.

They are cultivated from a carbon plate known as a seed.

Under controlled conditions, the diamond grows atom by atom, layer by layer, recreating nature's process.

After it's over, the diamonds are cut and polished by experts using the same tools and technology as with mined diamonds. Proponents say the quality is such high grade that it cannot be detected by the best of experts.

Lab grown diamonds are known as conflict free diamonds because there is no human suffering involved and no damage to the environment. And that's what makes these very attractive to some people, especially millennials.

Marisa Jannaman works at Cottage Hill Diamonds, selling both options, mined and lab grown. When she got engaged, she felt lab grown was the only way to go.

Hill admits that some customers are initially skeptical. But he says thanks to the quality and eco friendliness, he's finding more and more customers are buying without guilt while keeping a little extra money in their pocketbook.

Of course, there are still some skeptics who believe nothing can replace a real diamond. But there are about a dozen companies that now produce lab grown diamonds.

Retailers who sell them are required to give full disclosure when marketing these gems.