The Simple Way to Understand Lab-Created Diamonds
Technology has not been overlooked in the jewelry industry, and certainly not in the diamond business, but with changes come questions. If you’re browsing engagement rings, shopping for an anniversary present, or just looking to glam up your look with a new piece of jewelry, you’ve likely come across a few new trends when it comes to diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds are growing in popularity and there are a lot of questions about them versus natural diamonds. We’re here to explore some of the differences between lab-grown and natural diamonds and answer some of those questions.
This trend is just getting started. Lab-created stones can be an investment as well.-Certified Gemologist
How do diamonds naturally form?
Deep below the surface of the Earth, approximately 100 miles beneath our feet, is the upper mantle. In this layer of our planet Earth, the temperatures are extremely high and the pressure is intense. Gravity pulls everything towards the center of the Earth and the weight of the overlying layers and rock creates an immense pressure that is necessary for diamonds to form. Down below is where carbon atoms react to the pressure and the heat by bonding to each other. This is when crystals begin to form and diamonds begin to grow, according to Smithsonian Magazine.
We can’t access this part of the planet but over time (fun fact: scientists have been unsuccessful in their attempts to date diamonds or even their inclusions), there are volcanic eruptions that push the diamonds to the surface where they eventually turn up in riverbanks, mountains, and mines all over the world. This long complicated process is part of the reason why diamonds are so valuable.
Did you know?Some jewelers and buyers believe that lab-grown diamonds that mimic the natural process are a better, more authentic alternative to natural diamonds.
What exactly is a lab-grown diamond?
A lab-grown diamond is still a diamond. The chemical makeup of a diamond that formed in the upper mantle is the same as one created in a lab on the surface. There are two methods when growing diamonds, one mimics the exact process that happens below the surface and one uses a sliver of a natural diamond to get the process started.
Two methods for growing diamonds
According to Nathan Alan Jewelers, one method is called High-Pressure High Temperature (HPHT). “In this process, natural graphite is placed in a large machine that crushes it with extreme pressure and temperatures. Under these conditions, the graphite turns into a diamond.”
This was the first method that was discovered when creating lab-grown diamonds. (Fun fact: In the early 1950s, H. Tracy Hall, a general electric chemist, invented the first reproducible process to make lab diamonds.”)
The second method is called Chemical Vapor Deposition. This process begins with a thin layer of a natural diamond, which is used as a type of seed. This could be where the idea of growing diamonds comes from. However, natural diamonds also grow, because they slowly become bigger and bigger as the crystal form. The sliver of natural diamond (seed) is then exposed to heat and carbon-rich gas in a chamber. The heat and gas then help break down the molecular bonds and allows the carbon to attach to the diamond sliver and grow the same way a diamond does in nature.
Many people are still just learning about lab-grown diamonds. They will only continue to get more and more popular.-Certified Gemologist
Lab-grown diamonds in perspective
A good way to think about lab-grown diamonds is like a telephone call. Years ago communication between far away places was a long, complicated process that took time and effort and was not accessible to everyone. As time passed and technology improved, telephones became prevalent and eventually affordable for almost everyone. Other forms of communication were introduced and the process between faraway places became much simpler.
The same transformation has come to the diamond industry. What was once long, complicated, and rare has become simpler. However, there’s still value in a telephone call. There are certain things that cannot replace a telephone call. The same goes for diamonds and lab-grown diamonds. Diamonds are still a symbol of marriage and commitment. They represent tradition and more and just because they are more accessible does not make them irrelevant.
The value of lab-grown and natural diamonds can be traced back to the rarity of natural diamonds. They are not easily created or found. Although, the chemical make-up and even the process can be exactly the same, lab-grown diamond are simply less rare than natural diamonds. That being said, any scientist with a lab kit cannot grow a diamond. There are still skills and resources that make lab-grown diamonds a rarity as well. Overall, the average person cannot differentiate a lab-grown diamond from a natural diamond with the naked eye.
Frequently Asked Questions About Lab-Grown Diamonds
Are lab-grown diamonds as good as real diamonds? Yes, lab-grown diamonds are scientifically as good as “real” or natural diamonds.
What is better lab-grown or natural diamonds? Lab-grown diamonds are certainly a more affordable price than natural diamonds.
Are lab-created diamonds worth less? Yes, lab-grown or lab-created diamonds cost less because they are not as rare as natural diamonds. Price can still vary depending on the color, clarity, carat, and cut though. A flawless lab-grown diamond is still a valuable investment.