When shopping for diamonds or diamond jewelry, you always want to know that you are getting quality. The last thing you need is a diamond that is low-quality or even fake. As gemological technology progressed in the 20th Century, lab-grown diamonds entered the market, leaving many consumers with questions about their quality, composition, and authenticity.
So, how are lab grown diamonds made? Are lab grown diamonds real? How do lab diamonds differ from natural diamonds? In today’s guide, we will answer all of these questions and more, but first, let’s examine the term “lab diamond” to see what it really means:
What Is A Lab Grown Diamond?
A lab grown diamond, also known as a man-made diamond, is simply a diamond that has been produced using a specific technological process in a controlled environment. In other words, instead of occurring naturally and being mined from the earth, a lab grown diamond is created in a lab (as the name implies). Lab diamonds were first created in the 1950s and have since grown in popularity.
It is important to differentiate lab-created diamonds from diamond simulants, as the former have all of the same qualities as natural diamonds, while the later merely “simulate” the appearance of a real diamond. This has caused a lot of confusion among consumers, resulting in the two products being conflated. However, there is a huge difference between a lab diamond and a mere diamond “look alike.” To understand this difference more clearly, let’s take a look at how scientists are able to make diamonds in a laboratory.
How Are Lab Grown Diamonds Made?
Diamonds can be made in a lab in two different ways. Some lab diamonds are created using the CVD method, while others are created using the HPHT method. The two methods differ greatly, though the final product is the same.
CVD stands for Chemical Vapor Deposition. This process involves a small piece of diamond set in a controlled chamber with a mixture of hydrocarbon gas. Combining a diamond with this mixture mimics the way that diamonds form in interstellar gas clouds. The CVD method is the more recent of the two lab techniques, as it came into being in the 1980s. Moreover, this method does not require a great deal of energy, making it a more cost-effective option for manufacturers and consumers alike.
During the CVD process, a small piece of diamond is heated to approximately 800 degrees Celsius (about 1,470 degrees Fahrenheit). Naturally, this must be done in a controlled, sealed environment. Once the diamond slice has been adequately heated, the heating chamber is filled with methane or a similar carbon-rich gas. From there, various methods can be used to ionize the gas into plasma, ranging from microwaves to lasers. This last part of the process allows the carbon and diamond to merge one layer at a time, turning the small slice into a much larger diamond.
HPHT simply stands for High Pressure, High Temperature. Most people know that diamonds naturally form deep underground with extremely high degrees of pressure. Their formation also requires high temperatures. Thus, the HPHT method replicates the formation of natural diamonds that are mined from the earth every day. This was the original method of making diamonds in labs developed in the 1950s. Though it is still used today, many manufacturers and retailers prefer diamonds created using the CVD method. That said, the two methods can be combined (CVD followed by HPHT) to change the finish or color grade of a natural diamond.
In any case, to achieve similar temperatures and degrees of pressure, diamond manufacturers use several different steps. Like the CVD method, HPHT requires a small piece of diamond (often known as the diamond seed). This diamond seed is placed into a controlled chamber with pure carbon. Both materials are then exposed to high heat and pressure. As the carbon melts, it forms around the diamond. The substance is then slowly cooled to allow the larger diamond to form. Finally, the diamond can be cut and polished as needed.
Are Lab Grown Diamonds Real?
The short answer is yes; lab diamonds are real diamonds. They share all of the same properties as natural diamonds because they use the same processes required for natural diamonds to form — just in a controlled lab environment rather than nature. Despite the fact that lab diamonds are real, they still get confused with diamond simulants like cubic zirconia, which may share a similar appearance to a diamond, but has none of the same essential properties.
Regardless of the method used to make a lab diamond, it must involve carbon, as this substance is what helps form diamonds in nature. Certified diamond experts can test different materials to discover if they are real or not. If created using one of the methods outlined above, a lab diamond will test as real. If you want to ensure that you are getting a real lab-created diamond, make sure that the diamond is AGI certified or GIA certified. AGI (Association of Gemological Institutes) and GIA (Gemological Institute of America) are two trusted organizations dedicated to testing and researching both man-made and natural diamonds.
Lab Grown Diamond Prices Vs Natural Diamonds
While there is no difference between lab diamonds and natural diamonds (other than the environment in which they were formed), there can be significant differences in prices. In most cases, a lab grown diamond will be cheaper than a natural diamond of the same cut and carat weight. This can make lab diamonds a much better value than natural diamonds.
There are various reasons that lab grown diamonds cost less. First and foremost, natural diamonds take billions of years to form. This means that, at any given time, there are only a certain number of diamonds that can be mined. While new diamonds are formed all the time, it does not mean that diamond formation will keep up with the demand for natural diamonds. As a result, the prices of the natural diamond market can fluctuate based on availability.
Additionally, natural diamonds must be found and mined, often using large machinery, human labor, and at sometimes unethical practices. It can take months and thousands of dollars just to mine, ship, and cut one natural diamond. Alternatively, lab grown diamonds can be formed in a matter of weeks, ensuring that supply can always meet or even exceed demand. This keeps prices low on the manufacturing side, and these savings are passed on to both retailers and consumers.
So, how much does a lab grown diamond actually cost? Naturally, the exact price will vary based on several factors, from the retailer to the size and cut of the diamond. That said, you can get a 1-carat diamond for anywhere between $1,000 to $2,000 USD. The same natural diamond would likely set you back about anywhere between $5,000 to $15,000 USD. If you are buying a diamond ring or earrings, the materials and labor used to create the piece of jewelry will increase the price. Either way, you can save thousands of dollars by choosing lab diamond jewelry over natural diamond products.
Are you in the market for diamond jewelry? Do you want beautiful, certified lab diamond jewelry at competitive prices? If so, be sure to check out the luxurious products available at Liori Diamonds today!