Lab-grown diamonds have grown in popularity as an ethical, dazzling alternative to natural diamonds, but you may still be wondering, “but how are lab-grown diamonds made?”
Besides costing less than their natural diamond equivalents, lab-grown diamonds have significant environmental advantages over mined diamonds. Concerning issues such as ocean pollution, deforestation, and the irreversible damage of open-pit mining are all avoided when customers choose lab-grown diamonds. Did you know that most people can’t tell the difference between a lab-grown diamond and a natural one? Even many jewelers can’t tell with their loupe! Read on to learn more how this amazing diamond came to be.
The Back Story: How Lab-Grown Diamonds Are Created
In the late 1800’s, some early scientists were claiming to have synthesized diamonds by heating charcoal to 3,500 degrees Celsius inside a carbon crucible. Although there wasn’t clear confirmation of whether these techniques were successful or not, many at the time were claiming they were.
High Pressure, Beautiful Results
In nature, diamonds grow deep underground where high temperatures and pressures naturally occur. So logically, scientists tried to recreate that by using what is now known as the High Pressure / High Temperature (HPHT) method. In the 1950s GE created a belt press that used an upper and lower anvil to generate over 1.5 million pounds of pressure per square inch and temperatures over 2,000 degrees Celcius. Pure carbon melts at these temperatures and begins to form a diamond around the starter seed. In late 1954, the first replicable lab-grown diamond was grown using this HPHT best press system. Though the diamond was nowhere near jewelry quality, it was a start. Since then, HPHT has only been improving and producing larger, higher-quality stones.
Modern Advancements in Lab-Grown Diamonds
More recently, a second method of producing lab-grown diamonds has been developed. Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) works by placing a small piece of a diamond seed (often a tiny HPHT diamond) in a sealed chamber that is then heated to about 800 degrees celsius – the chamber is then filled with a mixture of carbon-rich gasses, the gasses are then ionized into plasma using microwaves, lasers or other means. This breaks down the molecular bonds in the gasses so the pure carbon can adhere to the diamond seed and slowly but surely, build a whole diamond. The biggest benefit of the CVD method is the fine control over the environment the diamond is grown in and thus the end product. At the moment, CVD diamonds aren’t able to be grown as large as HPHT diamonds, but with constant research and advancement, only time will tell.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
Both CVD and HPHT lab-grown diamonds have slightly unique properties that can be used to distinguish them from each other and determine them as lab-grown, but really only with a trained eye.
So which one should you choose? While both technologies are fascinating; for a jewelry lover, you should pick based on the 4 C’s and which individual stone(s) you like most as there won’t be a noticeable difference without a trained eye and proper equipment.
At Planet Diamonds, we use IGI and other trustworthy stone graders to ensure quality and consistency. If you have any questions, contact us and we’d be happy to help you pick the perfect lab-grown diamond for your needs.
Founded by jewelry industry veterans with over 50 years of combined experience, Planet Diamonds offers ethically-sourced lab-grown diamonds: For the planet, not from the planet. We believe in diamonds that do not compromise quality, ethics, or value, with our goal to bring nothing but the best to our customers. Ready to learn more about lab-grown diamonds? Start here.