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Laboratory Grown Diamonds

August 27, 2022 3 min read

Laboratory Grown Diamonds

The origin story is the main factor that sets laboratory-grown diamonds apart from natural ones, since laboratory-grown diamonds have essentially all of the same chemical, optical and physical properties and crystal structure as natural diamonds. Laboratory grown diamonds are precision manufactured in high tech factories.

How are Laboratory-Grown Diamonds Made?

There are two main processes used to create lab-grown diamonds: 
1. High Pressure, High Temperature (HPHT) 
With this method, laboratory-grown diamonds are produced in laboratories that mimic the high pressure, high temperature conditions of natural diamond formation in the earth. HPHT diamond growth occurs at pressures of 5–6 GPa (roughly equivalent to the pressure exerted by a commercial jet airplane if balanced on the tip of a person’s finger) and at temperatures of 1300–1600°C. Lower-quality diamonds, whether natural or laboratory-grown, can also be put through the HPHT process to improve colour and clarity. In addition to making diamonds more colourless, this process can also be used to change the colour of diamonds into pink, blue or yellow. The diamond would then be called a “treated” diamond. 
2. Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) 
This newer technique enables scientists to grow laboratory-grown diamonds using moderate temperatures (700°C to 1300°C) and lower pressures. Carbon-containing gas is pumped into a vacuum chamber, depositing onto a diamond seed and crystallizing as laboratory-grown diamond. The eventual size of the diamond depends on the time allowed for growth. 

Laboratory-Grown Diamond Timeline

1950s: Laboratory-grown diamonds are first produced using the high pressure, high temperature (HPHT) method for industrial purposes and are used in telecommunications and laser optics and as abrasives and more. 

1970s: General Electric researchers create the first gem-quality laboratory-grown diamonds. They are of high enough clarity and large enough size to be used as gems in jewellery. 

Mid-1980s: Manufacturers grow commercial quantities of gem-quality laboratory-grown diamond crystals. These lab-created diamonds are initially mostly small and yellowish or brownish in colour, but their quality improves over the ensuing decades. 

2000s: Diamonds are created using the chemical-vapor deposition (CVD) method, which requires lower pressure and temperatures than the HPHT method. 

Mid-2010s: Colourless lab-made diamonds are available in the jewellery market in commercial quantities. Both HPHT and CVD continue to be popular methods of laboratory-grown diamond production. (from GIA)

Lab-Grown Diamonds vs Natural Diamonds

Laboratory Groen Diamonds

Lab-grown diamonds and natural diamonds are both made from pure carbon. Heat and pressure transform that carbon into diamond. Optically, chemically and physically there are no differences. The difference is their origins. Lab-grown diamonds are grown relatively quickly in a controlled environment. Natural diamonds formed within the earth's crust billions of years ago. The conditions needed for diamonds to be created no longer exist, meaning that all the natural diamonds on earth have already been produced. It’s the rarity of natural diamonds which make them much more expensive.

How Do You Identify a Lab-Grown Diamond?

Lab-grown diamonds can look exactly the same as natural diamonds to the unaided eye. Their identity can usually only be determined by gemological laboratories using specialized instruments. These instruments detect minor differences in trace elements and crystal growth to determine whether a diamond is laboratory-grown or natural.

Lab-Grown Diamonds vs Simulated Diamonds

Simulated diamonds, such as cubic zirconias(CZ), moissanite or glass, are not diamonds. They don’t have the same hardness, optical characteristics or chemical make-up that diamonds have. They will wear a lot quicker and not as well as diamonds. Whereas laboratory grown diamonds are diamonds. They have the same

Are Lab-Grown Diamonds Certified?

Yes, just like natural diamonds, lab-grown diamonds are certified. GIA and IGI are two of the biggest diamond laboratories that grade both natural and lab-grown diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds are put under the same testing as natural stones; the 4C’s cut, clarity, colour and carat. Each stone that is sent to a gem lab is independently graded by many gemologists. Then the grades from each are compared and a final grade is given. Each stone which has been graded is given a report number that is then laser inscribed on to the girdle of each diamond.

Gia diamond certification
IGI diamond certification

Environmental Information

Yes Every manufacturing industry, including natural and laboratory-grown diamond, has a carbon footprint.

Natural Production:

The Argyle diamond mine uses 7.5 kWh to recover one carat. The Diavik diamond mine uses 6.6kWh to recover one carat.

Laboratory-Grown Production:

Apollo diamond used 28 kWh for a normal growth run. Gemesis diamond used 20 kWh for a normal growth run.

Many other factors need to be considered when evaluating the efficiency of both natural and man-made diamonds. There are also socio-economic considerations that are important in evaluating the mining and manufacturing of natural diamonds and similarly the same with laboratory-grown diamonds. (from GIA)