Lab-grown diamonds have become the newest trend in the jewelry industry. They are becoming more and more attractive to consumers because they are being sold at lower prices than mined diamonds. But how are lab-grown diamonds made? What makes them different from mined ones? And how do you spot lab-grown diamonds? In this blog post, we will answer all of these questions and more!
What are lab-created diamonds?
Lab-grown diamonds are manmade crystals that resemble the natural diamond crystal formations. Because they’re crystal structures of carbon atoms, lab-grown diamonds can display the same chemical and optical characteristics as a natural diamond produced by geological processes created by mother nature.
How are lab-grown diamonds made?
Natural diamonds are produced due to intense heat and pressure, which over many million years can transform carbon to form these gems we know as diamonds. Lab-created diamonds are grown through an artificial process that takes just a few weeks, not millions of years.
There are two commonly used methods for laboratory growth: HPHT and CVD.
HPHT stands for High Pressure and High Temperature.
The production of the HPHT begins with a diamond seed placed in pure carbon. The manufacturing process then places pressure on this seed to withstand extreme pressures as high as 1800 times atmospheric.
For the diamond seed to begin its formation, it is exposed to intense pressure and heat. (Temperatures over 2,700 Fahrenheit equivalent to 1482.222 Celcius). These pressures and heats begin to melt the carbon, forming a diamond around the initial seed. The newly formed diamond is carefully cooled before harvesting.
A rough diamond is cut, polished, and set into jewelry like a natural one.
CVD stands for Chemical Vapor Deposition
Most lab-grown diamonds are cultivated using a process known as Chemical Vapor Deposition. Inside an enclosed chamber, methane and hydrogen gases are heated to 1,400+ Fahrenheit with the diamond seed inside. These gases are then ionized into plasma using a technology similar to lasers or microwaves, a process that creates vibration. When diamond gas undergoes a chemical vapor deposition process, the molecular bonds of this gas are broken down to form pure carbon. Some diamonds may require further treatments (from heating or irradiation) to change their color before it`s sold.
Why are lab-grown diamonds better than mined diamonds?
Here are just a few of the benefits that lab-grown diamonds have over their natural counterparts.
Greater purity and improved quality
Lab-grown diamonds are purer than mined ones because they don’t contain any dirt or impurities created under controlled conditions. Compared to diamonds grown underground, man-made ones have fewer structural defects. The higher the purification, the brighter and whiter the diamond will be.
Lab-grown diamonds are made in laboratories, so they don’t use fossil fuel or harm the earth. The extraction of diamonds extends far beyond dirt displacement and a hole in the ground. It has a devastating effect on whole ecosystems, with deforestation, diverted rivers, created dams to expose river beds, relocated people. The landscape that once was enriched for farming has now become desolated.
Lab-grown diamonds, of comparable quality to those made by the earth, are up to 40% less expensive. Lab-grown diamonds are cheaper than mined diamonds due to their two major advantages: The efficiency of the supply chain as mined diamonds are machine and labor-intensive. The process from extraction, transportation to customer passes through too many hands. The other factor is the profit margin taken by De Beers and other large mining corporations.
The Source of every diamond is known.
For most diamond enthusiasts, it is important to know the full history of their stones—from start to finish. A common term used to highlight the negative effects of mined diamond trade is “blood diamond,” a popular film released in 2006. A significant proportion of mined diamonds often come from war-torn parts of the world, associated with human rights violations (child labor, slave labor, extremely poor working conditions, massacres, and insurgency funding). A lot of uncertainty surrounds the background history of a diamond. With lab-grown diamond, you are assured of knowing that your diamond did not contribute to the blood diamond trade as it`s a detectable source.
Disadvantages of lab-grown diamonds
Lab-grown diamonds are challenging to resell and their value will depreciate as they have no limitations to the supply.
Lab diamond producers are funded by wealthy companies with established countries, in contrast to natural diamonds that support the livelihood of people who depend on mining for income.
Lab-grown diamonds claim to be better for the environment than mining, but they create sustainability issues of their own. Creating lab-grown diamonds requires huge amounts of energy and heat that burden the environment.
Can You Tell The Difference Between Lab-Grown And Mined Diamonds?
Lab-grown diamonds must be uniquely identified because consumers need to know what they are buying and because there can be a significant price difference between them and natural gems. Lab-grown diamonds share the same characteristics as mined ones. Even to a trained eye, it’s impossible to tell the difference between a diamond grown in a lab and an earth-mined diamond.
One way to distinguish between lab-grown and natural diamonds is by examining the grading report from a professional gemologist.
A gemologist can use magnification to look for the nature of any inclusions in a diamond. Natural diamonds tend to have features that aren’t found in lab-created ones, such as stone imperfections or irregularities on the surface.
Should you buy a lab-grown diamond?
The decision as to whether or not you want a lab-grown diamond is a personal one. Some people try to pressure or guilt buyers into purchasing a diamond that they don’t want, telling them it is morally wrong to buy something that was mined from the earth.
After reading this article, you have the information you need to make an educated decision and find out what’s most important for you in diamonds (peace of mind, romance, price).
One detail to note is that you should not consider the purchase of a lab-grown diamond to be an investment.