There are two processes used to create lab-grown diamonds - Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) or High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT).
Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD): The first process, CVD, involves a very small "seed" crystal, which is placed in a chamber. The chamber is then heated and filled with gasses. With the right combination of temperature and gas, the seed grows layers of carbon to form a square-shaped diamond.
High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT): The HPHT process replicates how diamonds form in the earth. This involves placing a piece of natural graphite in a machine that crushes it with extreme heat and pressure. The graphite turns into a diamond.
Instead of it taking millions of years to create the diamond, it only takes a couple of months to create a diamond in the lab.
Now that you know how lab-grown diamonds are made, let's debunk some of these myths once and for all.
Lab-grown diamonds are real just like their mined counterparts. The difference is that they aren't dug out of the ground using all the manpower and equipment required to do so. Instead, they are grown by replicating the power and pressure of the earth in a laboratory.
In fact, in the reports of the FTC and GIA, they no longer use the word "synthetic" in describing these diamonds.
Lab-grown diamonds come with a diamond certification, like natural diamonds.
This is false because lab-grown diamonds are the same as mined diamonds physically. They have the same strength and resilience as mined diamonds. These diamonds have the same Mohs hardness of 10 as mined diamonds.
In fact, the FTC said that, "A diamond is a diamond no matter whether it is grown in a lab or comes out of the ground." The use of the words "natural" and "synthetic" were prohibited in diamond marketing as of July 2018.
The only "simulated" diamonds are Cubic Zirconia and Moissanite. These do not have the same structure and different base materials are used to create them, while lab-grown diamonds form from crystallized carbon (like mined diamonds).
Lab-grown diamonds are graded following the 4 C's just like natural diamonds. They are certified by world-renowned organizations such as:
- Gemological Institute of America (GIA)
- International Gemological Institute (IGI)
- HRD Antwerp
- Gem Certification and Assurance Lab (GCAL)
The GIA has been grading lab-grown diamonds since 2007. Their reports are the same for both types of diamonds so that consumers may compare the two.
Lab-grown diamonds are identical to mined diamonds. They are not clones of each other. The lab process simply speeds up the time it takes to turn carbon into a diamond. Once created in the lab, the raw form of the diamond is then cut and polished.
They optically look like earth-mined diamonds with the same chemical and physical attributes. They can be purchased in all the same shapes and cuts as you would buy a mined diamond. To the natural eye, a person cannot tell the difference between the two.
Lab grown diamonds also differ from each other in clarity and have varying amounts of "inclusions." Inclusions are the tiny flaws that are seen through a jeweler's loupe. The level of clarity and any amount of inclusions are reported when the diamond is graded.
Lab-grown diamonds will not change color, fade or change in any way. Like mined-diamonds, the process of creating them is not perfect, so they are not always perfect either. However, they often have more sparkle and brilliance.
The reason many of these myths started in the first place is because lab-grown diamond pricing is often much lower than mined diamonds. The reason for this is simple economics.
The typical operating cost of a diamond mine is anywhere between $30-150 trillion. It depends on which method the mine uses and its location. Not to mention, these mines are located in various countries around the world - South Africa, Brazil, China, Russia, Australia and Canada. Mining diamonds is not a cheap endeavor, which is one reason why they cost so much. They are rare and valuable once mined, cut and polished. There's the ethical side of mine diamonds as well.
Lab-grown diamonds, on the other hand, have only the cost of the lab itself and the energy put into creating it. This means that a lab-grown diamond that looks identical to a mined-diamond in all aspects from size to clarity and cut may cost up to 50% less than its mined counterpart. That's a big savings.
Lab-grown diamonds are cheaper because of the quality, they are simply more cost-effective.
We hope we've cleared up some confusion about lab-grown diamonds for you. Remember, they are sold as they are "grown" meaning that they are not altered or enhanced in any way. They are only cut, polished, and then set in the piece of jewelry. They will come with a grading report just like a mined diamond, so you can feel comfortable with your purchase.
The one difference is that lab-grown diamonds may have a tiny inscription that can only be seen with a magnifying glass. This inscription identifies the diamond as being lab-made and is found in the girdle of the diamond. Otherwise, only special instruments must be used to tell the difference between the two types of diamonds. So if you choose them for yourself or as a gift, no one will ever know from looking at it, whether the diamond came from a lab or from the ground.