GET TO KNOW LAB GROWN DIAMONDS
What are lab grown diamonds?
Lab Grown Diamonds
Lab grown diamonds, sometimes referred to as man made diamonds, cultivated diamonds or even synthetic diamonds, are created in a laboratory setting through a technological process, as opposed to a geological process that creates natural, earth-mined diamonds.
Lab grown diamonds have the same chemical composition, crystal structure, optical, and physical properties of natural, earth-mined diamonds, meaning they are identical in every way.
The demand for lab grown diamonds has increased substantially in recent years, as technological advances have perfected the process of growing diamonds that are not only equally beautiful, but also economical and ethical.
Lab grown diamonds offer excellent value, offering the opportunity to purchase a larger diamond at a lower price point - often in excess of 30% lower in price than natural, earth-mined diamonds of comparable size and quality.
Are they real?
This question is usually the first thing most people ask. In short, lab grown diamonds are 100% real diamonds. They have the same optical, chemical, thermal, and physical features, meaning there is no difference to a natural, earth-mined diamond.
For this reason, under testing conditions, lab grown diamonds will detect as real diamonds. Even experienced gemologists will be unable to tell the difference.
How are lab grown diamonds grown?
Lab grown diamonds are categorised as either high-pressure, high-temperature (HPHT) or chemical vapour deposition (CVD) diamonds.
The HPHT method was introduced in the 1950s and involves placing a small diamond seed in carbon. The diamond seed is exposed to extreme heat (over 1,500 degrees celsius) and pressure (around 1.5 million PSI), replicating the way diamonds are naturally grown in earth. It is then cooled and the diamond is formed.
The CVD method was created in the 1980s and imitates how diamonds form in interstellar gas clouds. The CVD method places a diamond seed in a vacuum chamber, which becomes filled with carbon rich gases and is heated to nearly 800 degrees celsius. The gas turns into plasma from these extremely high temperatures, causing the release of carbon pieces. These carbon pieces become layered onto the diamond seed, which grows the diamond.
The CVD process produces Type IIA diamonds, which are extremely rare for naturally occurring diamonds. Type IIA diamonds are the most chemically pure diamonds – they lack nitrogen and/or boron impurities, unlike HPHT diamonds that are exposed to nitrogen.
The end result of both the HPHT and CVD method is a rough diamond. The rough diamond then goes through the exact same process that a natural, earth-mined diamond would go through to produce a polished diamond - planning, cleaving/sawing, bruiting and polishing.
Are lab grown diamonds more ethical?
Lab grown diamonds can provide peace of mind that a natural, earth-mined diamond often cannot.
Many years ago, the mined diamond industry came under scrutiny when unethical production practises were exposed. These practises produced diamonds that funded violence (sometimes referred to as blood or conflict diamonds) and exploited miners and their families.
Thankfully, with the establishment of the Kimberley Process in 2003, these unethical practices have been virtually eliminated.
As with mining of any natural resource, diamond mining has a significant impact on the environment and the eco-systems around them. Although, the diamond mining industry is fully aware of that impact and have taken steps to minimise the effect they have.
However, lab grown diamonds are significantly less detrimental to the environment as it takes considerably less energy to grow a diamond in a lab than it does to mine it from the ground.
How long does it take to grow a lab grown diamond?
Lab grown diamonds typically take around a week to form into a rough diamond. This rough diamond then goes through the exact same process as a mined diamond to produce a polished diamond, that you see in all our beautiful engagement rings. Compared to the natural process, it's an incredibly quick process!