Lab-Grown Diamonds

Lab-grown diamonds, we know you’ve heard of them! We also know it’s a confusing market, so we’ve written a to-the-point blog post to help clear up some of the myths and hearsay that exist and give you the knowledge to make an informed purchase.

What are lab-grown diamonds?

Lab-grown diamonds, as the name suggests, are diamonds grown in a laboratory rather than formed naturally by earth and have exactly the same properties (chemical, optical and physical) and crystal structure as natural diamonds.

To understand how and why we synthesize diamonds, we first need to look at where it all started: the natural diamond.

Naturally, diamonds are formed 200kms deep into the earth’s mantle under extreme pressure and temperature in the host rock, Kimberlite. These rocks are captured by molten magma as it drives its way to the earth’s surface during a volcanic eruption. Natural diamonds are formed of pure carbon and most host inclusions which effect their colour and clarity. The majority of natural diamonds are formed over 3 billion years ago, the youngest ones being just 1 billion years old.

Laboratories can now mimic earth’s sparking creation and grow diamonds of the same material and properties as a natural diamond, but what once took 3 billion years, now only takes a few weeks.

So how are they created?
There are two types of lab-grown diamonds seen on the market today:

HPTP (High Pressure, High Temperature) mimics the earth’s natural process by swapping the Earth’s enormous mantle for a smaller metal laboratory press. HPTP diamonds are formed in a chamber using a diamond seed to start the growth. The seed is placed in the press with carbon molecules and is subject to intense heat of 1300-1600 °C and pressure of 870,000 pounds per square inch. To gain an understanding of the intense environment required to grow a HPHT diamond, imagine balancing the tip of the Eiffel Tower on the small chamber. This method produces one single diamond in a few days to weeks.

CVD (Chemical Vapour Deposition) diamonds grow very differently, forming layer by layer in a vacuum chamber. A small slice of diamond is placed in the chamber where hydrogen and carbon-rich gases fill the space. As the chamber is heated these particles cling to the diamond slice and form layers, growing several stones at a time in just one to two weeks. This method allows for a controlled growth process and can produce high-quality diamonds with fewer impurities.

The current largest lab-grown diamond is grown through the CVD method and is a whopping 155cts!

What do they look like before they are cut?
The shape of a CVD diamond can be manipulated by the scientist growing it. They can grow in discs, powders, or asymmetrical cubes.

HPTP diamonds in their rough form liken more to a natural rough diamond, growing in an abstract or elongated octahedron shape.

Natural diamonds grow as octahedrons (like two pyramids stuck together), macles (little triangles) and dodecahedron (similar to a broken rough sugar lump).

All diamonds are cut the same way. Once the crystal has fully-formed they are transported to a cutting house where a sparkling diamond is cut and polished. Both natural and synthetic diamonds are cut the same way as they are made of the same chemical composition.

Are lab-grown always super white and super clean?

It is a myth that all lab -grown diamonds are bright and white! Whilst advanced lab technology can create the ‘perfect white diamond’, these diamonds can still host many inclusions such as nitrogen, boron, nickel (in HPTP) and silicon (in CVD). This makes identifying a natural diamond from a lab-grown diamond nearly impossible to the unaided eye and typically require testing by a laboratory.

However, what the lab-grown diamond market can do, unlike the natural diamond market, is make whiter and cleaner diamonds more accessible to clients at a budget friendly price point.

Why am I only now suddenly hearing about lab-grown diamonds?
Lab-grown diamonds were first produced in the 1950’s. As equipment and technology has advanced, technicians are now able to grow multiple commercial quality diamonds in one space within a very quick timeframe. It is this that allows lab-grown diamonds to frequent the market today, carrying their competitive price tag.

Let’s talk about ethics and eco.
The word ethical means different things to different people so as the consumer, you should decide what aligns with your own values. The mining of natural diamonds has been linked to environmental damage, political and human rights issues. This should be balanced against the fact that diamonds provide a large proportion of certain country's GDPs and is also a far more regulated industry than it used to be. With lab-grown diamonds, the materials needed to make HPHT and CVD diamonds still require mining and a lot of power is used in their production.

Are lab-grown diamonds, synthetic diamonds and CZ’s all the same?
What’s the difference between a lab-grown diamond, a created diamond, a cultured diamond and a synthetic diamond? The answer is: nothing. They are all the same thing. They are all synthetic diamonds and a synthetic diamond is chemically the same as a natural diamond.
What is not the same, is a CZ or a moissanite, which are diamond simulants. Simulants simply look like a diamond but are not chemically the same and can be made of any material.

Therefore, a natural diamond and a synthetic diamond are both diamonds. The only difference is how they were formed.

We at The Curious Gem are excited to offer a range of lab-grown diamonds in a variety of shapes and sizes at a competitive price! Our lab-grown diamonds are CVD created and are grown and cut in India. Browse our sparkling lab-grown treasures here.