Laboratory Grown Diamonds
Laboratory Grown Diamonds (commonly referred to as Lab Grown Diamonds)
Laboratory Grown diamonds are manufactured using 2 different processes.
CVD, Carbon Vapor Deposition.
HPHT, High Pressure High Temperature.
Even though there are these two different processes used to grow the diamonds,
Both processes yield similar diamonds. For those of you interested in the detail,
A natural diamond will create a diamond in the form of an 8-sided crystal called an Octahedron.
A Laboratory diamond grown using the HPHT method will create a diamond in the form of a 14-sided crystal, called a Cuboctahedron, and a laboratory diamond grown using the CVD method will create a diamond in the form of a 4-sided crystal, a cube. Even though each process will yield a different shape of diamond crystal, we still use similar processes to polish these diamonds into the beautiful diamonds that you are accustomed to seeing in all of your jewelry.
The HPHT Method
To grow a Lab diamond using the HPHT method, a small diamond seed is placed in carbon, the element that natural diamonds are made of, and then this seed is exposed to High Pressure, about 1.5 million PSI (Pounds per square inch) and at High Temperature, about 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, attempting to replicate the way that a diamond is formed naturally in the earth. The carbon will melt in this chamber and once cooled, a diamond crystal will have been formed.
The CVD Method
When we grow a lab diamond using the CVD method, rather than attempting to replicate the growth of a diamond in the earth, we attempt to replicate the way that a diamond will form in interstellar gas clouds. This method will use less energy to produce a diamond because the heat and pressure necessary to form the diamond is significantly decreased.
The CVD method also uses a small diamond seed, which we place in a vacuum chamber. We fill this chamber with carbon rich gases and heat to nearly 1500 degrees Fahrenheit. The gas will turn into a plasma causing the release of carbon pieces, which become layered onto the diamond seed, which then creates the diamond.
Which Method is better, CVD or HPHT?
Both methods will produce a Laboratory diamond that is optically, chemically and physically similar to a naturally mined diamond that has been found in the earth. Although we do have a means to distinguish the differences between natural, HPHT and CVD diamonds through the use of technical equipment, you will not be able to see these differences with the naked eye. They all will exhibit the beautiful reflective properties that you would expect from a diamond that creates its’ unique brilliance, sparkle and hardness.
Naturally Mined vs Laboratory Grown - Advantages and disadvantages
There have been no new diamond mine discoveries in over 30 years, which has created a finite supply of naturally mined diamonds available in the world. We had one of the world’s largest diamond mines discovered in Australia close permanently in 2020. The presumption is that because naturally mined diamonds are becoming rarer over time that values will increase in the coming years, which is the greatest advantage of Naturally mined diamonds.
Many people believe that naturally mined diamonds are destroying the earth and this may have been true at one point in time, but today the diamond industry supports biodiversity conservation at each mine. The Diamond industry is committed to protecting our natural land, preserving critical habitats and endangered wildlife, and ensuring that all areas surrounding each mine are safe for wildlife and all local communities.
The diamond industry currently supports tens of thousands of families around the globe, supplying food, housing and education to help improve the life of those living and working near to a mining facility, and most employees working in the mining areas earn on average 66% more than the national average salary in their locale.
Although there was a time that diamonds were illicitly traded, those days are behind us. Our industry is committed to the fair and equal treatment of all people. There are processes in place to assure people worldwide that diamonds have been mined using eco-friendly practices, and sold through proper channels assuring that no “blood diamonds” sneak into the diamond pipe line.
On the other hand, the processes that we use to manufacture Laboratory Grown diamonds are improving rapidly, allowing us to increase our supplies at an ever faster pace. At one time we could only supply Lab grown diamonds, mostly not white in color and imperfect in clarity, but today, we can produce optically beautiful Lab grown diamonds, Top white in color, and Flawless in clarity, and at a price significantly less than its naturally mined counterpart, which is the most significant advantage of Lab Grown Diamonds compared to Naturally Mined Diamonds. Customers searching for a larger diamond within a specific budget may prefer Lab Grown Diamonds because of the difference in price. Also, Laboratory Grown diamonds offer a mining alternative and all Lab Grown Diamonds by nature are conflict free.
Q and A
Why are Laboratory Grown Diamonds Less Expensive than Naturally Mined Diamonds?
Lab Grown Diamonds are manufactured under strict parameters in technologically advanced high pressure and high temperature equipment. Because these diamonds are grown under such exacting standards, we can reproduce the effect over and over again, generating improved availability over time. This process does not need the manpower, land or equipment necessary to maintain a naturally mined diamond facility, and thus the costs are significantly reduced.
Are Laboratory Grown Diamonds as brilliant as naturally mined diamonds?
Lab Grown diamonds are virtually the same chemical composition as naturally mined diamonds and as such share the same optical properties. You will not be able to see the difference between a lab grown diamond and a naturally mined diamond with your naked eye.
Are Laboratory Grown Diamonds a good investment?
As with any Gemstone, the resale value will vary over time. Lab Grown diamonds are relatively new to the market and as such there has not yet been a stabilized market value to help us to determine what the future value may be. As technology improves the ease which we may grow diamonds in the laboratory, we expect a significant increase in supplies which may lower the cost of Lab Grown diamonds over time.
Are Laboratory Grown Diamonds Conflict Free?
Since all Lab Grown diamonds are made by man in technologically advanced machinery, all lab grown diamonds are by nature conflict free.
Can I insure my Laboratory Grown Diamond?
Yes, just as you would insure any piece of art or fine jewelry, your Lab Grown diamond jewelry will be covered by your insurance company.
Is there a way that I may distinguish my Laboratory Grown diamond from a naturally mined Diamond?
Most Lab grown diamonds over 0.50 carats in weight have been laser inscribed on the girdle, the middle of the diamond, with an indication that the diamond is lab grown. Additionally, there is testing equipment readily available at many jewelers around the globe, including Windy City Diamonds that will distinguish your lab grown diamond from a mined diamond.
How Long does it take to grow a Laboratory Grown Diamond vs a Naturally Mined Diamond?
It takes 7 – 10 days to grow a 1.00 carat lab grown diamond and about 1 month to grow a 3.00 carat diamond. With current technology, if we attempt to grow a diamond faster, the diamond crystal will fracture. Thus there is a physical speed limit to how fast a lab grown diamond may grow.
It takes between 1 Billion – 3.3 Billion Years for a natural diamond to form, which is approximately 25% - 75% of the age of our planet! Due to the immense pressure that is present in the part of the earth where diamonds are formed, in addition to the extreme temperatures that they are subjected to, a diamond will slowly form.
Do Laboratory Grown Diamonds last?
Lab Grown diamonds have the same physical hardness as naturally mined diamonds, so they will last virtually forever! This doesn’t mean that you cannot chip or break a diamond as this is possible with all diamonds, be they Lab Grown or Naturally mined.