Lab - Grown Diamonds Q&A
Synthetic diamond (also referred to as laboratory-grown diamond, laboratory-created diamond, or cultured diamond) is a diamond made of the same material as natural diamonds: pure carbon, crystallized in an isotropic 3D form. Synthetic diamond are different from both natural diamond, which is created by geological processes, and imitation diamond, which is made of non-diamond material.
In order to appreciate this process, we have to first know how nature forms diamonds. Diamonds form deep beneath the surface of the earth, about a 100 miles or so below. The pressure and heat of this environment pressurizes and binds the carbon atoms together over millions of years to eventually form a diamond. For lab grown diamonds, there are two main techniques used. I’ve outlined these two processes very briefly below:
The HPHT Process – Natural conditions are imitated using a High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) process. For this process, there are different forms of equipment available, such as the belt, cubic and split-sphere presses. However, each of these processes follow the same concept – creating an environment that has high pressure and high temperature where the diamond ‘seed’ along with carbon is placed to grow. This was the first technique that was used to create man made diamonds.
The CVD Process – The other technique used for the creation of synthetic diamonds is Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD). This is a relatively newer method that uses a hydrocarbon gas mixture to form diamonds. It uses a sealed chamber which is heated to extreme temperatures. The seed diamond is placed here along with a gas rich in carbon. Various techniques are used to ionize the gas and break apart the bonds holding the molecules together, resulting in the pure carbon attaching to the diamond seed and slowly forming in layers.
Both the HPTP and CVD processes come with their advantages and disadvantages. While CVD does not require as much heat as HPTP and provides a greater control of the final product, HPTP allows for the formation of larger stones. There is ongoing research to fine-tune these processes that they may become more productive.
There is only one difference between traditional mined diamonds and lab-grown diamonds: how they are sourced. Mined diamonds are mined from the earth, as the name suggests, while lab-grown diamonds are created above ground in a lab.
Lab-grown diamonds are not fake diamonds or substitutes for the real thing. They are genuine diamonds that are chemically and physically identical to mined diamonds. In fact, because they have the exact same properties and appearance as mined diamonds, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission classified lab-grown diamonds as true diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds also have the bonus of being conflict-free and more environmentally friendly.
Almost everything! Lab-grown diamonds and mined diamonds are all real diamonds, with identical physical, chemical and visual characteristics. They are both measured by the 4Cs of cut, color, clarity and carat and classified as true diamonds by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. The only differences are where they come from, their environmental impact and cost. Lab-grown diamonds are created in a lab, sustainable and generally cost less – so you get a bigger or higher-quality diamond for the same amount of money.
Not necessarily. Mined diamonds have a large environmental impact, especially in the communities where they are sourced, and require resources like water and energy to mine. Problems like deforestation and soil erosion can be traced back to diamond mining. Unethical practices are sometimes associated with diamond mining, too, and fair trade diamonds can be expensive.
Lab-grown diamonds, on the other hand, are a sustainable alternative with minimal environmental impact – just about one-seventh of the impact of mining a diamond. The International Grown Diamond Association also states that they require 85 percent less water to produce.
Nope. Lab-grown diamonds have the same qualities as their mined counterparts – visually, chemically and physically. In fact, some lab-grown diamonds are of even greater quality. Both lab-grown diamonds and mined diamonds are evaluated with the same 4 Cs: cut, color, clarity and carat. They are certified and graded using the exact same process.
Not at all. Because lab-grown diamonds have the exact same physical, chemical and optical properties as mined diamonds, they are also identical in quality. Both mined and lab-grown diamonds are classified as true diamonds by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. A high-quality diamond is a high-quality diamond, whether it comes from a lab or the earth. Once they are professionally cut and polished, it is nearly impossible to tell the difference.
No. Like mined diamonds, every lab-grown diamond is unique. All diamonds are types of crystallized carbon, and will form in a unique way, whether in a lab or under the earth’s crust. Each lab-grown diamond is carefully grown from a carbon seed and will have its own distinctive shape, color and characteristics.
Lab-grown diamonds are generally less expensive than their traditional mined counterparts – so you can get a higher quality diamond or a larger stone for the same price. The average lab-grown diamond costs about 30 to 40 percent less than a mined diamond. Lab-grown diamonds are true diamonds, so they are not cheap, but a shorter supply chain creates greater value for consumers.
Mined diamonds must go through six production steps before reaching the jeweler, and many different industries and businesses are involved. It can be hard to trace the environmental impact and practices of all those players. Some experts even believe that diamond mining is unsustainable at its current pace and the earth’s supply is running out.
Because lab-grown diamonds are created above-ground in a controlled environment, they don’t require nearly as much energy, manpower or steps in the supply chain. Mining a diamond uses 85 % more water and creates a carbon footprint seven times larger than growing one in a lab
All lab-grown jewelry is certified by International Gemological Laboratories – the same lab that certifies mined diamonds.
International Gemological Laboratories, or IGl, certifies all types of loose diamonds and provides reliable, accurate grading and identification. Certificate numbers are laser inscribed onto the girdle of the diamond (the thin perimeter that divides the crown from the pavilion or the bottom of the diamond). These inscriptions are so small they require magnification to view and cannot be seen with the naked eye.
IGl Laboratory Grown diamond reports provide the same information as IGl mined diamond reports. The reports are colored yellow in order to ensure full transparency with consumers