Have you heard of laboratory diamonds before? Do you want to know if it is a good choice for your engagement ring for that special someone? There are thousands of questions surrounding the uncertainty of laboratory diamonds. We are about to clear the air and provide all the answers. This is everything you need to know about laboratory diamonds and a few additional nuggets of information that you should find handy.
What are Laboratory Diamonds?
Laboratory diamonds are specially created under laboratory conditions using modern-day technology. These conditions mimic and replicate the same conditions that diamonds are naturally created through deep beneath the earth’s surface.
The diamonds combine carbon atoms organized into a similar crystal structure as that of natural diamonds. With the same structural materials, laboratory diamonds exhibit and possess indistinguishable chemical, physical, and optical of their natural counterparts. What does that mean for you? Well, you get the same sparkle and scintillation of the naturally cut diamond, as it was when it was first forged billions of years ago and as it is today. There are even different types of laboratory diamonds, such as:
- Cubic Zirconia
- Simulant Diamonds
- Diamond Nexus Simulants
- Cultured Diamonds
- High Pressure, High-Temperature (HPHT) Diamonds
- Chemical Vapor Deposition CVD
Laboratory diamonds are also referred to as imitation diamonds, synthetic diamonds, human-made diamonds, cultured, diamonds, manufactured diamonds, cultivated diamonds, among many others. As you can see, all the names refer to the artificial process that leads to their creation.
What Is the Difference between Laboratory Diamonds and Natural Diamonds?
Laboratory diamonds are just as beautiful as natural mined diamonds. They have the same properties. Of course, the fact that they require less mining makes them an ideal option for someone who wants to be more ecologically friendly, while wanting to retain the mineral hardness. These diamonds are made based on the highest quality standard, and they are cultivated from seeds under monitored conditions. They also only use the purest form of Type IIA carbon. Laboratory diamonds are graded on the same considerations as natural diamonds, which are cut, clarity, and color. Even the same certification process is used.
Still, the development process associated with natural diamonds is much different from its artificial counterpart. Natural diamonds are formed from the carbon in the earth’s crust. The element has been there since over three billion years ago. The process takes place under natural conditions, which include but are not limited to very high pressure and temperatures. After creation, the diamonds travel to the earth’s surface by molten rocks, where they get mined, refined, and transformed into gorgeous jewelry pieces.
Pros and Cons to Choosing Laboratory Diamonds
Here is a look at the benefits and the downsides of your selecting laboratory diamonds over the earth-mined gem.
- Laboratory diamonds are less expensive than natural diamonds. You can get what appears to be the same stone for at least 20% – 30% less. Assuming the knowledge of the lack of authenticity is not a bother for you, then you are more likely to see the merit in going for a more cost-effective option.
- They are conflict-free and ethical. You can have fewer headaches over the manufacturing and acquiring process, as there is no child labor or war involved. Real diamonds may be beautiful, but the process of getting them from earth to jewelry is just about as tumultuous as the harsh conditions under which they are formed. Children undertake the mining process in some cases. Additionally, areas where diamonds are present, are often conflict hotspots as opposing sides want to control the potential wealth.
- Laboratory diamonds are always created beautifully since it is a controlled environment. The manufacturing process lends itself to some of the most beautiful diamonds that can be made. When left up to Mother Earth, there is a considerable degree of luck involved. There’s a reason why natural diamonds need to go through a refinement process before they’re converted into jewelry pieces. Additionally, they’re not always usable. The artificial process grants a greater level of control over the output, which is always a plus.
- Environmentally friendly, as there is no mining and drilling of the ground. Laboratory diamonds are formed in a lab, which is safer. If you are concerned with the potential negatives and existence of climate change, then you are likely going to be a lot more receptive to laboratory diamonds. There’s no need to worry about destroying the earth and even potentially contaminating water sources.
- Laboratory diamonds receive better cuts than natural diamonds, which is a critical driver of value and beauty. This stems from the earlier point about the ability to exercise tighter control over the process, which means the capability to make a more attractive finished product is a lot greater.
- As similar as they look, they are not acknowledged on the same level. While the properties are the same, due to the difference in how they are created, people tend not to be as open to laboratory diamonds as they are to natural ones. Still, it’s essential to point out that this is not a hard and fast rule, as some appreciate this alternative just as much. Natural diamonds are created by Mother Nature’s forces, while its counterparts were made in a laboratory. In any case, this difference is going to continue to set them apart.
- Laboratory diamonds cannot claim the same level of rarity that natural diamonds can. As laboratory diamonds are created in a lab, they are less of a limited supply than natural diamonds. The creators can theoretically make as much as they’d like, provided the input materials are present to do. Scarcity fosters value, so natural diamonds always win in that area.
Laboratory Diamond Production Process
You are already aware that high temperatures and pressure are required. A seed is needed to start the whole process. Two primary methods are often used to proceed to the final product. These are High-Pressure High-Temperature (HPHT) and Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD).
A tiny carbon seed is carefully selected to experience these extreme measures using technology and machinery. After two weeks to two months, the seed would have crystalized into a full rough diamond, and then it is cut and polished. In the end, the result is a diamond with most of the same characteristics and properties as a natural diamond.
Though the process’s essential characteristics are the same, there are notable differences between HPHT and CVD. Here is a brief look at how they differ. Note that some debate the effectiveness and merits of both methods to determine the more practical of the two.
HPHT is the older of the two methods, So there was a time when it stood as the lone way to get laboratory diamonds. It was in the 1950s when gem-quality HPHT diamonds became mainstream. Note that the process involved can do more than just growing the diamonds from the seed level. Color enhancements are also possible, making alternatives, such as yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, are the traditional colorless diamonds possible.
The small diamond seed placed in carbon gets exposed to an incredible level of pressure and heat. If you want to put it into perspective, over 2000 Degrees Fahrenheit and over 1.4 million per square inch (PSI) of pressure are used in the production process.
The intensity causes the carbon to melt, forming a diamond structure that encases the seed. After the cooling process, you get what eventually becomes the final product. Typically, the shape of an HPHT-formed diamond is a cuboctahedron with a 14-direction growth pattern.
A few decades later, in the 1980s, the CVD method came to light. This alternative aims to mimic the formation of diamonds in the same way the phenomenon occurs in interstellar gas clothes. Their pressure ratio is far less than that of the HP HT method, and the machinery required is not as large or as high powered.
A diamond seed is still required, but this time it goes into a vacuum chamber. The chamber is then filled as much as possible with various carbon-rich guesses, and the heating begins. The maximum temperature tends to reach a little bit under 1500 degrees Fahrenheit. The effect of the heat is the conversion of the gas into plasma. With plasma present, carbon pieces are released, and they layer themselves onto the diamond seed. This is where the diamond grows from.
The eventual shape of CVD diamonds tends to be a cube with a one-directional growth pattern. The process creates what are known as type IIA diamonds. Naturally occurring diamonds are rare enough, but the finding of a type IIA natural diamond is even rarer than normal. These are the purest diamond variations possible from a chemical perspective. The HPHT method contains much more nitrogen exposure, which leads to a less pure structure.
Additionally, while HPHT diamonds have magnetic properties, CVD diamonds tend not to.
Qualities of Laboratory Diamonds
These diamonds are often reviewed based on color, quality, and other crucial factors that pique buyers’ curiosity.
Laboratory diamonds are made of the highest quality because they are formed perfectly from pure carbon. The advanced technologies and equipment used to enhance the stone’s brilliance and clarity make it exceptional. They are all ideal gem-quality pieces in sizes as big as you desire.
Thanks to the level of control that the synthetic diamond production process brings, it’s possible to get a series of brilliant colors, which improves the appeal to potential jewelry buyers.
HPHT diamonds tend to be naturally colorless when the growth process is complete. However, when there’s a lot of boron present, they can end up becoming a deep blue. If nickel is in the mix, then you are more likely to see a green color. Finally, with a lot of nitrogen, expect a yellow finish.
Though these colors are naturally occurring based on the compounds that dominate the production workflow, post-growth treatments are used to change the naturally occurring colors where necessary. For example, annealing and radiation can be used to get colors, such as light blue or red.
Diamonds forged from the CVD process tend to be brown initially. Other variations include nearly colorless or slightly yellow. An interesting point to note is that coloration improvements for CVD laboratory diamonds tend to come from using HPHT processes. Alternatively, a treatment process containing multiple steps is often implemented to move from the brownish color to red or pink laboratory diamonds.
While the market for brown diamonds is not nonexistent, other colors, such as blue or red, are more marketable and attractive to buyers, so the diamond developers tend to gravitate towards them.
How Grading Works
Though these synthetic diamonds are created in a laboratory, there’s still a grading system used to determine their quality and value. However, they cannot be graded on the same scale used for natural diamonds because of the disparity in their structure and formation methodology.
An example of the difference is the way grading reports are printed. The cardstock used for laboratory diamonds is different from those used for regular gems. Additionally, phrases such as “synthetic diamond” or “laboratory-created” must be displayed on the certificate cover and in the actual report to make the distinction for a fair grading process.
Laser inscriptions are also required on their girdles which identify them as synthetic stones. Without these, they are not eligible for grading. Though these differences exist, the reports make it that much clearer that much of the physical, optical, and chemical properties of laboratory diamonds are incredibly like those of the natural alternative.
So, while the value may be different because of elements, such as rarity, you can see that laboratory diamonds are acknowledged in the world of jewelry and fashion. It is all but impossible to tell that a difference is even present to the untrained eye.
How Can You Get Your Hands on laboratory Diamonds?
If you are interested in beautiful laboratory diamonds on a series of elegant products, such as necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and even engagement rings, visit the comprehensive Green Diamond website. There is a gemological certificate for each piece of jewelry, free shipping and returns, a lifetime warranty, and up to 12 interest-free payments if you opt for a payment plan.