Lab Grown Diamonds
What Are Man Made Diamonds?
Man made diamonds, also known as engineered or cultured diamonds, are grown in highly controlled laboratory environments using advanced technological processes that duplicate the conditions under which diamonds naturally develop when they form in the mantle, beneath the Earth’s crust.
These man made diamonds consist of actual carbon atoms arranged in the characteristic diamond crystal structure. Since they are made of the same material as natural diamonds, they exhibit the same optical and chemical properties.
How Are Lab Diamonds Made?
Lab created diamonds are grown from the tiny carbon seeds of pre-existing diamonds. Advanced technology – either extreme pressure and heat or a special deposition process known as CVD – mimics the natural method of diamond formation. Some lab diamonds grown through deposition may also undergo pressure and heat treatment after they are grown. Lab grown fancy colored diamonds are formed when small amounts of specific trace elements are present during the growth phase of the diamond, just like in nature. In both white and fancy colored lab diamonds, the exact composition of trace elements may differ from their natural diamond counterparts. Lab diamonds can only be distinguished from natural diamonds using specialized equipment that can detect the minor differences in trace elements and crystal growth.
Lab Grown Diamonds vs.Diamond Simulates
It is important to note the major distinction between lab diamonds and diamond simulants. Diamond simulants, such as cubic zirconia and moissanite, look similar to diamonds but are not true carbon crystals. Simulants do not have the same chemical and physical properties as natural diamonds and therefore sell at much lower prices than man made diamonds. Simulants can be distinguished from natural or lab grown diamonds using only the naked eye.
Natural and lab grown diamonds have thermal conductivity properties that differentiate them from cubic zirconia with a handheld diamond tester. Some lab diamonds, along with some natural colored diamonds, may be mistakenly identified as moissanites when using certain diamond testers due to similarity in their electrical conductivity. However, gemologists can typically distinguish between diamond and moissanite due to their differing refractive properties, with moissanites being double refractive and diamonds being single refractive.
Lab Created Diamonds vs.Natural Diamonds
Lab grown diamonds display the same physical, chemical, and optical characteristics as natural diamonds, and exhibit the same fire, scintillation, and sparkle. Using a jewellery loupe, man made diamonds are nearly impossible to differentiate from natural diamonds.
Lab created diamonds may exhibit different trace elements than natural diamonds that do not affect the appearance of the diamond.
Lab grown diamonds can be distinguished from natural diamonds only with tests using specialized equipment. Lab created diamonds available for purchase should always come with a gem certification identifying them as laboratory grown.
CHEMICAL VAPOR DEPOSITION (CVD)
Chemical Vapor Deposition, or CVD, is a process used to create gem-grade diamonds as well as optics and semiconductors. The CVD process uses ultra-pure carbon-rich gasses in a controlled chamber. Carbon-based gasses, such as methane, are heated until they break apart allowing the carbon atoms within the gas to separate. These tiny carbon atoms fall onto a diamond substrate and build up layers resulting in a rough diamond crystal. This process takes between six to ten weeks and yields gem-grade
HIGH-PRESSURE HIGH-TEMPERATURE (HPHT)
High-Pressure High-Temperature, or HPHT, recreates a diamond's natural growing environment found deep within the Earth. The machines used have the ability to build up the pressure of almost 60,000 atmospheres and temperature of 2,500 degrees Celsius.
The growth cell contains all the elements needed to grow a diamond, including a seed, highly refined graphite and a catalyst mixture consisting of metals and powders. The cell is placed in the center of the HPHT chamber. Consistent temperatures reaching 1,300 degrees Celsius and more than 50,000 atmospheres of pressure are applied. The catalysts inside the cell are the first to react to the added heat and pressure and change from solid to molten form.
The molten catalyst solution causes the graphite within the cell to dissolve. Once all the required conditions are met, the cooling process begins. This process takes place over several days and allows the carbon atoms to build upon the seed. The cell is removed from the HPHT machine once the growth cycle is complete. The new rough diamond is extracted and cleaned in preparation for final cutting and polishing.
The entire HPHT growing process requires an incredibly controlled environment to produce a gem-quality diamond. Any shift or change during growth can cause the diamond to stop growing or can create inclusions that result in unusable diamonds. Every diamond must complete the entire growth cycle before the machine can be opened. It is only after the HPHT chamber is opened that we can see the finished rough diamond and its color, clarity, and size.
Within the HPHT process, there are three primary tools used to supply the pressure and temperature necessary to produce lab-created diamonds. These are:
Bars Press - The Bars Press is the most effective tool used for producing gem-quality diamonds. It uses a combination of inner and outer anvils to apply hydraulic pressure to the growth cell.
Belt Press - The Belt Press is the founding technology behind growing diamonds. It can be large and produce several diamonds in only one cycle by using two large anvils that press together to create the necessary pressure. It is capable of producing gem-quality diamonds but is most commonly used to produce diamonds and diamond powder for industrial purposes.
Cubic Press - A Cubic Press can be large in size and uses six separate anvils to create the necessary pressure for diamond crystal growth. It is also used to create diamond powder for industrial purposes.
Lab Grown Diamond Benefits
Lab-created diamonds are available up to IF in clarity, D in color, Ideal in cut, and up to 10 carats in size. They come in a variety of shapes including round, emerald, cushion, oval, heart, princess, trillion, and radiant.
Colors include white, yellow, blue, pink, and green.
Lab-created diamonds cost up to 40% less than their mined diamond equivalents. Buyers beware: keep an eye out for "grown diamonds" sold for a few hundred dollars per carat. If the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Only diamond simulants fall in this price range.
Every lab-created diamond from Diamond Vault GC is guaranteed conflict-free and sourced from first world countries where they are treated and cut in a controlled lab environment.
Unlike earth-mined diamonds, our man-made diamonds are created without negatively harming native communities, society or the Earth.
According to the 2014 Frost & Sullivan report, "lab-grown diamonds are seven times less impactful to the environment than mined diamonds, use significantly less resources and emit a fraction of the air pollution.”
We'll let the numbers speak for themselves:
The mining of earth-mined diamonds results in hundreds of hectares of soil being disturbed (approximately 0.00091 hectares per carat), excessive carbon emissions and other greenhouse gas emissions that lead to deteriorated air quality and pollution. Additionally, approximately 126 gallons of water are used for every 1.0 carat diamond mined.
The amount of land disturbed in the creation of a laboratory-grown diamond equates to 0.00000071 hectares per carat. The use of water is also minimal, with approximately 18.5 liters used in the creation of a 1.0 carat laboratory-grown diamond.