Are lab-grown diamonds real diamonds?
Possibly the most common question people ask about lab grown diamonds is, are they real diamonds? The answer is a definitive yes. Lab-grown diamonds are chemically, physically and visually identical to mined diamonds because they are….diamonds. Just like mined diamonds lab created diamonds will vary in colour, clarity and cut. And just like mined diamonds, each one is unique often with naturally occurring inclusions just like those formed in nature. A lab diamond can only be distinguished from mined diamonds using specialized equipment that can detect the minor differences in trace elements and crystal growth
Lab-grown diamonds are not to be confused with moissanite or cubic zirconium or, which whist also made in labs, don’t share a true diamond’s durability or enduring sparkle. A diamond will last you a lifetime and beyond to become a family heirloom, but after two years a cubic zirconia will need to be replaced as it will become scratched and cloudy with normal wear and tear.
How are lab-grown diamonds cultivated?
There are two methods used in the cultivation of lab grown diamonds, both involving stating with a “seed”, a small piece of another diamond. The High Pressure High Temperature system (HPHT) relies on, just as the name suggests, a pressure of 1.5million pounds per inch and a temperature of around 1500 degrees Celsius. These conditions encourage carbon atoms to precipitate on a small diamond seed crystal and the diamond begins to grow.
The second method, Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD), involves placing the “seed” in a sealed carbon rich chamber. A microwave beam causes carbon to precipitate out of a plasma cloud and deposit onto a seed crystal.
Whether grown by HPHT or CVD, lab-grown diamonds are then cut, polished, evaluated and graded by the same gemological labs that certify mined diamonds, using the same strict standards.
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Lab-grown diamonds versus mined diamonds, which is right for you?
Whilst they may be physically and chemically identical their impacts are not. Like all things on this complicated blue-green planet of ours the full story is a long one. Look out for our upcoming journal entry on the social and environmental impact of lab-grown versus mined diamonds.