An Overview of Lab-Grown Diamonds
Diamonds are lovely, and you know what we mean when we say that. Formed under immense pressure for billions and billions of years, diamonds are the precious stones that make every girl’s heart swoon with love. It is rightly said that ‘diamonds are forever’ and ‘every women’s best friend.’ But did you know that not all diamonds are formed in the natural habitat of Earth’s crust? Yes, that is right. As the technology and humans advanced with time, scientists have begun to grow diamonds in the vicinity of labs. These diamonds are termed as lab-grown diamonds and do not differ from the stones that are naturally formed.
This guide will offer you an overview of the lab-grown diamonds and many of its aspects.
What is a lab-grown diamond?
As mentioned, lab-grown diamonds are manufactured by scientists in a laboratory rather than found in the Earth. They have the same chemical formula and makeup as natural diamonds and are optically identical as well. In simple terms, a lab-created diamond is “grown” by scientists inside a lab by using the cutting-edge, latest technology that replicates the natural diamond growing process. Such technique results in a human-made diamond that is identical to the natural diamond chemically, physically, and optically.
Often lab-grown diamonds are also termed as synthetic diamonds, but do not let that name fool you to understand that they’re ‘fake.’ A lab-grown diamond is as real as a diamond stone mined from the Earth’s surface and made into jewellery
How are Lab-grown Diamonds Manufactured?
We all know that naturally mined diamonds are formed deep inside the Earth’s crust after carbon dioxide is exposed to the extreme heat of around 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit and put under the intense pressure of nearly 727,000 pounds per square inch. These stones are then carried to the Earth’s surface by volcanic eruptions. The same process is replicated to form diamond stones in a lab.
Without going in the technicalities of how a lab-grown diamond is formed, we will explain in a way that makes understanding simple.
- There are two processes that labs use to manufacture diamonds: High Pressure-High Temperature (HPHT) and Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD)
- In HPHT, diamond forming process begins with a small diamond seed that is placed into carbon. The seed is then exposed to high temperatures of about 1500 degrees Celsius and extreme pressure of almost 1.5 million pounds every square inch. Such a condition makes the pure carbon to melt as a diamond starts to form around the starter seed. The resultant mass is then cooled to form a pure carbon diamond.
- In CVD, the process begins with a thin slice of diamond seed, which is usually formed in the HPHT produced diamond. The diamond seed slice is placed in a sealed chamber, which is heated to 800 degrees Celsius and filled with a carbon rich-gas, such as Methane and many more. These gases are ionized into to break the molecular bonds in the gases, resulting in the pure carbon forming into the diamond seed and crystallizing.
The above-explained processes take about a 7 to 10 days to form a one-carat diamond in the lab. The same processes require nearly a month to manufacture a three-carat lab-grown diamond.
Reasons for Manufacturing Diamonds in a Lab
You must be thinking that when diamonds are available to us in nature, why is there any to need or want to grow them in labs?
If you recall, then you must remember that a natural diamond takes around billions of years to become a stone worthy of jewellery making; and sometimes, not even then. With the advancement in technology, scientists have reduced this time frame from billions of years to a few weeks and months. Besides, there are many other benefits and reasons behind growing a diamond in the lab:
- Mining diamond stone impacts nearly thousands of acres of land of its biodiversity. On an average, mining one carat of diamond disturbs almost 100 sq ft of area is and creates nearly 3000 kgs of mineral waste. Nothing of such sort happens when diamonds are grown in labs
- Mining requires a large sum of individuals willing to put their life at risk under the deep tunnels in the Earth, which also results in injuries of those individuals. Such incidents are eliminated when diamonds are lab-grown
- Mined diamonds require a workforce, a robust supply chain, and many more factors before it is made into jewellery and bought by customers. The same is not true for a lab-created diamond, which decreases its price by almost 20 to 30 percent
- Natural diamonds occur in several shades as explained in our other guide, but lab-grown diamonds can be formed in colours that are not possible naturally. Many stones that are created in labs are of red, yellow, and green.
Are Lab-grown Diamonds as Popular as Natural Diamonds?
By now, you know that lab-grown diamonds are sustainable, both environmentally and economically. The current generation of people (millennials and Gen Z) are gradually moving away from the conventional use of natural diamonds toward the stones that are formed in the laboratories. As more and more people come to know about the authenticity of lab-grown diamonds and understand that they are no way different than natural diamonds that are mined from Earth’s surface, they’re moving toward accepting jewellery items of diamond
that are grown in labs.
All in all, the increasing concern around the environment and economy has made people flock toward accepting the lab-grown diamonds much more and earlier than anticipated.
Difference Between Lab-grown and Natural Diamonds
Visibly and chemically, there is no difference between a lab-created diamond stone and the one that is mined from the Earth’s surface. Both the diamond stones are durable and sturdy; they both have the same characteristics, and they also appear similar to a gemologist. But if you’re still keen on finding out how you can differentiate between a natural diamond and a lab-grown diamond, then there are a couple of factors to look at:
- There are clear signs of differences between a lab-grown diamond and a natural diamond. Diamond stones that are formed in the lab have different growth morphology, and how the various conditions impacted the shape of the diamond crystal. But such a distinction is only determined by experts working in the field of gems
- The origin of both the diamonds is still the primary differentiating factor. While one is formed inside the extreme hot condition of Earth’s crust for billions of years, the other is created in a simulated environment in a few weeks or months
- Lastly, the only way you can find a difference between these two diamonds, as a buyer, is to look at their certificates. The agencies grading the diamonds would mention the stone’s origin as Lab-Grown or natural in the certificate
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