Concerns about the working practices within the mining industry and their environmental impact have led to the increasing demand for lab-grown diamonds over the years. Customers today are breaking away from natural diamonds, with about 70% of millennials now considering purchasing a lab-grown alternative, based on a survey from MVI Marketing. Other reasons for shoppers to choose lab-created diamonds include lower prices and better design.
That is why more and more jewelers worldwide are switching from selling mined diamonds to creating and trading lab-grown diamonds. They chose to stay away from the natural diamonds because of the humanitarian and ecological toll of extracting them.
So what are lab-grown diamonds, and how are they the better choice compared to their mined counterparts? Find answers below to the most frequently asked questions about lab-created diamonds.
What are lab-grown diamonds?
Lab-grown diamonds, otherwise known as man-made or engineered diamonds, are created in a highly controlled environment using the latest technological processes to duplicate the conditions in which natural diamonds are formed under the Earth’s crust.
Lab-created diamonds contain carbon atoms arranged in the same structure as natural diamonds, so both diamonds exhibit identical chemical and optical properties. To the touch and in their appearance, they are almost indistinguishable.
How are lab-grown diamonds made?
Lab-grown diamonds are made through one of two methods – either via the High-Pressure High-Temperature (HPHT) method or the Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) method.
High-Pressure High-Temperature (HPHT)
The HPHT method recreates the environment under the Earth’s surface where natural diamonds grow. Though several types of technologies are used in this method, the process best suited for creating gem-quality diamonds is the Bar press.
The Bar press uses a combination of outer and inner anvils to apply hydraulic pressure to the growth cell in the unit, which contains all the elements required to grow a diamond. These include highly refined graphite, a tiny diamond seed, and a catalyst consisting of a combination of powders and metals. Constant temperatures that can be as high as 1,300 degrees Celsius and more than 50,000 atmospheres of pressure are applied to melt the elements in the cell, and then reform during the cooling process to yield a finished rough diamond ready for extraction. Once extracted, the gem is ready to be cut and polished.
Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD)
The CVD process begins by cutting a seed crystal or a small piece of carbon to be placed inside a small, low-pressure microwave CVD chamber. The chamber is filled with gases, along with electrical energy to ignite the plasma ball. From there, a cloud forms and carbon molecules pour over the seed, causing it to grow. After six to 12 weeks, a rough diamond is formed. It is then extracted, cut, polished, and graded by labs that certify traditionally mined diamonds.
You can’t distinguish products of both methods under the naked eye because they are physically and chemically similar to mined diamonds. In terms of grading lab-created diamonds, the same 4 Cs (Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat) are applied.
Are lab-grown diamonds fake?
No. Lab-grown diamonds are considered real diamonds because they have the same visual and chemical properties as traditionally mined diamonds. The Federal Trade Commission even acknowledged them as real in 2018.
Will people know if you have a lab-grown diamond ring or earrings?
No, unless you tell them. To the naked eye, there is no visual difference between a mined diamond and a lab-created diamond.
How can lab-grown and natural diamonds be distinguished from one another?
Lab-grown diamonds must be identified because customers should know what they are purchasing, and there are considerable price differences between them and their natural counterparts.
To inform and protect the gem-buying public, the Gemological Institute of America or GIA offers seminars and programs that teach the latest diamond grading techniques to distinguish lab-grown diamonds from natural diamonds. Old-style diamond detectors and traditional gemological observations cannot pinpoint their differences. This can only be done through the use of sophisticated devices developed by reputable organizations like GIA, and at a professional gemological laboratory where you can differentiate them from one another.
Why should you choose lab-grown diamonds?
More and more customers are choosing lab-grown diamonds for a variety of reasons. For instance, couples buy lab-grown diamond rings and wedding bands because they are less expensive. There is practically no reason to spend more on a mined stone if both options look and feel the same.
Another good reason for choosing lab-created diamonds is the fact that they are not mined. The Earth is left in its natural, beautiful state and the gems are free from conflict.
When it comes to chemical composition, appearance, and feel, lab-grown diamonds are almost identical to mined diamonds that even professional gemologists cannot tell the difference without using specialized equipment. They are also more sustainable and affordable. It is an investment-worthy choice if you are looking for a sparkling, high-quality gem for you and your loved one.