Like their natural counterparts, lab-grown diamonds are rapidly gaining popularity and widespread acceptance. Although they are not sourced from the earth, several things make them unique. Since the first diamond was created in the lab, diamond production has improved, with several methods now available for bringing the precious gem to the table.
What is Lab-Grown Diamond?
Lab-grown diamonds are real diamonds produced in the lab rather than in the earth’s crust. Compared to synthesized diamonds and other man-made diamonds, lab-grown diamonds possess the physical, chemical, and optical properties of mined diamonds.
Although there are several production methods, lab diamonds form when carbon is exposed to high temperature and high pressure, just like what occurs within the earth’s crust. Laboratory production of diamonds occurs under a controlled system, and specific properties such as size and color can be defined right within the lab.
There are no significant differences between natural and lab-grown diamonds, except for slight disparities in the production process. Lab-grown diamonds may take a different shape than how natural diamonds appear when fully formed. But this wouldn’t matter since all diamonds would still go through the polishing process.
How Long Does It Take for Lab-Grown Diamond to Create?
“Lab-grown diamonds take a production time of about six to ten weeks, and the longer the production process, the bigger a diamond should become under proper conditions”, says Mr. Lo from Inter-Pacific, a Hong Kong-based lab-grown gemstones manufacturer.
Natural diamonds go through a much longer process with pauses that could last for as long as millions of years. After they are formed, they take an equally long period to travel to or get close to the earth’s surface through significant land shifts, over-time erosion, and massive volcanic eruptions. Natural diamonds, therefore, take billions of years to complete their production process, and miners often dig miles into the earth to find them.
Types of Lab-Grown Diamonds
Strictly, there are two distinct processes for the production of lab-grown diamonds: High Pressure, High Temperature (HPHT), and Carbon Vapour Deposition (CVD). Although there are distinct production patterns, both techniques require nearly the same essential ingredients to create the right environment for diamond production.
High Pressure, High Temperature (HPHT) Diamonds
These diamonds are manufactured by providing the right temperature and pressure needed to produce a diamond within the earth’s crust. Diamonds form when carbon melts and crystallizes under very high temperatures and pressure. This process is mimicked in the lab using diamond seeds and extra carbon to trigger the production of more diamonds.
Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD) Diamonds
CVD is a simpler, flexible, and industrially applicable alternative to lab-grown diamond production. These diamonds are produced using carbon extracted from carbon-rich hydrocarbon gases. CVD would also require a diamond seed but consumes less energy and pressure than HPHT.
Diamond growth in a CVD process can be likened to the modern-day 3D pattern. As high temperature and pressure cause the hydrocarbons to break down, carbon settles around the initial diamond seeds in layers. As it crystallizes, it takes the shape of the initial seed, and the single diamond becomes bigger and bigger until production stops.
Subtypes of Lab-Grown Diamonds
Based on the two basic production methods of lab-grown methods, there are now different types of methods used for producing various diamonds and other gemstones in the labs. Some of these gemstones are even more durable than conventional mined diamonds.
Diamond Nexus Stimulants
These are lab-grown diamonds produced with certain additional ingredients that help to boost the durability of the diamonds. Such diamonds can boast triple lifetime durability.
Cubic Zirconia Stimulants
These are diamonds produced from zirconium dioxide. These lab-grown diamonds are the least durable and are the most affordable kinds of lab diamonds.
Moissanite Lab-Created Gemstones
These are produced using silicon carbide (moissanite). Moissanite is a high-quality and durable gemstone with a unique look, making it even more pricey.
Cultured diamonds are lab-grown diamonds produced from scratch using raw carbon. They are manufactured in an environment that imitates what makes the production of mined diamonds conducive.
Artificially manufacturing real diamonds in labs allows different methods of arriving at the same thing. Manufacturing companies like Inter-Pacific have several options to choose from and can now source diamonds that will appeal to different tastes (see here), even at a high quality. In essence, everyone can now have access to a real diamond!