Diamonds form out of carbon under the earth’s crust in conditions of enormous pressure and heat, eventually finding their way to the surface through volcanic eruptions. Remarkably, they are also formed here in Luminesce labs.
Man made diamonds aren’t exactly a new concept (they were first created in the 1950s), but as a planet, we’ve begun to think more sustainably. Lab grown diamond jewellery is environmentally friendly, ethically sourced, and lab created diamonds are just as good as their mined counterparts — so why not use them?
Another reason you might have heard about these lab grown diamonds is present-day accessibility. More and more are committing to a sustainable future through buying man-made gemstones, and it doesn’t hurt that you’ll find them at affordable prices. New technology means a larger, jewellery quality diamond can be created in a matter of weeks or months, ready to be bought and loved.
Interestingly enough, lab grown diamonds begin as a small piece of pure diamond known as a diamond seed. Under conditions created by expert scientists, these seeds grow in size and are eventually cut and polished to become the sparkling clear diamonds you see in jewellery today.
How are man made diamonds created? Two methods are used to form these diamonds: Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD) and High Pressure, High Temperature (HPHT). Read on to find out all you need to know or jump to a section below by clicking the links.
How Are Man Made Diamonds Created Overview:
- What are Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD) Lab Diamonds?
- What are High Pressure, High Temperature (HPHT) Lab Diamonds?
- What’s The Difference Between CVD and HPHT Diamonds?
- Are Lab Grown Diamonds Real?
- What Are Man Made Diamonds Called?
- Man Made Diamonds vs Real Diamonds
- Are Lab Created Diamonds Worth Anything?
What Are Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD) Lab Diamonds?
They may have a scientific-sounding name, but CVD diamonds are eco-friendly and highly popular within the jewellery industry. In essence, CVD is the process of separating carbon atoms from a gas and joining them onto a diamond seed. When this method was first used in the 1950s, only small brownish diamonds could be formed. Now you’ll see commonly clear lab diamonds larger than a carat in size. This is due to scientists using purer diamond seeds and more efficient gases in the process.
Here’s How CVD Works:
It begins with a small seed of pure diamond, set on a platform in an air-tight box. A carbon-rich gas like methane is pumped into the box and subjected to intense heat until carbon atoms separate. These atoms will then join onto the cooler diamond seed in layers and grow upwards from the platform, forming a large square-shaped diamond.
This process can take some time — a month or so to grow a 1ct diamond. This is because CVD diamonds require polishing each time a new layer is grown. Additional time and care is spent on each diamond to ensure high quality and colour. Luckily, several platforms can be used in one box to form these brilliant gemstones in groups.
At the end of the CVD process, scientists will find a diamond as chemically pure as a mined diamond. From this point, CVD diamonds can be heat treated or radiated to create fancy diamond colours, or cut and polished into the sparkly colourless gemstone we all know and love.
What Are High Pressure, High Temperature (HPHT) Lab Diamonds?
The HPHT process was first invented in the 1950s in an attempt to replicate natural diamond formation. This intense process was successful, however, the resulting diamonds were small and had a brown appearance. Like CVD diamonds, HPHT diamonds have come a long way since their inception. New technology helps to form bigger, purer HPHT diamonds which can be created on a large scale for use in stunning jewellery, like man made diamond rings and lab grown diamond pendants.
The process begins with placing a diamond seed and a source of carbon such as graphite in a small capsule. Other metals are placed in the capsule to help carbon transfer to the cooler diamond seed when the process begins.
By using a press, the capsule is put under extreme pressure and heated to high temperatures, just as a natural diamond would in the earth’s upper mantle. Older pressing methods would use two faces or ‘anvils’ to push the capsule from above and below. Modern methods use as many as six inner anvils around the capsule and another eight anvils around those — all applying pressure to one small capsule!
While under extreme pressure, the capsule is heated to temperatures upwards of 1300°C. This begins the process of the carbon source melting and its atoms joining onto the diamond seed. The process can take days to weeks to complete, eventually forming a pure diamond ready for cutting and polishing.
With certain metals, the colour of the HPHT diamonds can be changed during the process. With extra boron in the capsule the diamond will turn blue, with nickel they’ll turn green and with nitrogen, they’ll turn yellow. Similar to CVD diamonds, these pressed variants can turn a pink or red colour if heat treated. This means that you can shop for lab grown alternatives to any kind of diamond you’re after.
Browse our range of lab grown coloured diamonds!
What’s The Difference Between CVD And HPHT Diamonds?
As with Lab grown and natural diamonds, the main difference between CVD and HPHT is the method they were formed. High Pressure & High Temperature (HPHT) Diamonds are self-explanatory because they derive their name from their formative procedure. Bearing a similar appearance and process to a natural diamond. These tend to be cheaper than the CVD diamonds and natural diamonds, however, the quality is not as high.
CVD diamonds rise from platforms, growing into rectangular and square-shaped crystals before they’re cut. Diamonds grown through the HPHT method will be shaped the way they were pressed. If a six-sided press is used, then the gemstone will have six sides.
Of course, when gemstones are cut for jewellery they can be shaped however the gem cutter intends. There is hardly any difference in the finished product, only a trained gemologist would be able to identify differences in CVD and HPHT diamonds.
If you want to work out if you are buying a CVD or HPHT diamond, it may be worth looking at the size of the gemstone. HPHT diamonds are more expensive to create, and as a result, are often fewer carats than CVD diamonds. Likely, any lab-created diamond over 1 carat is made through the CVD method.
Most suppliers will note which of the man-made diamonds you’re buying, so you shouldn’t have to worry whether it’s a CVD or HPHT diamond. You won’t go wrong with either choice. All man-made diamonds used in jewellery are high quality and created for perfection.
Are Lab Grown Diamonds Real?
Diamonds formed through CVD and HPHT are real diamonds. The main difference between Lab diamonds and natural diamonds is how they were created. From a chemical and molecular level, mined and lab grown diamonds are the same. This means that CVD and HPHT diamonds are forever, too.
Just like mined diamonds, they are incredibly hard and resistant to scratching and chipping.
Visually, lab created diamonds are of equal high quality than mined counterparts, if not consistently better. Of course, between specific stones, there are differences in colour, cut, clarity and size. CVD and HPHT diamonds can have slight discolouration and inner markings just like mined variants.
While it would be near impossible to tell the difference with an untrained eye, gemologists can identify lab grown diamonds due to the patterns they grow in. For example, mined diamonds form in octahedron shapes, while CVD diamonds grow straight upwards in a square shape. The growing pattern has a minuscule effect on the way inclusions form in the stone, which can be identified using scientific equipment. Don’t worry, this effect isn’t noticeable to the naked eye, and certainly doesn’t make the stones any less beautiful.
Learn more: why lab grown diamonds
What Are Man Made Diamonds Called?
Man-made diamonds are usually named after their growing method — CVD diamonds or HPHT diamonds.
More broadly, man-made diamonds have been called:
- Lab Grown or Laboratory Grown Diamonds
- Synthetic Diamonds
- Man-Made Diamonds
- Lab Diamonds
- Lab Created Diamonds
Don’t be overwhelmed, if you come across any of these terms they most likely mean the same thing. Due to the recent popularity of lab grown diamonds in the diamond industry, many names have been used for the gemstone without one clear standout.
While synthetic diamonds is a commonly used term, it’s worth remembering lab grown diamonds are pure diamonds. They aren’t fake or synthetic gemstones. Other stones created to resemble diamonds like cubic zirconia or moissanite are known as diamond simulants and aren’t the same as synthetic diamonds.
One of the most noticeable differences in moissanite and cubic zirconia is its sparkle. While cubic zirconia and moissanite may appear to sparkle like diamonds, they contain zero-carbon, unlike diamonds. To put it another way, these gemstones are cheaper diamond imposters because they cost less to produce and are of lower quality. In fact, they are prone to fade, scratch and change colour over time.
Many people know that cubic zirconia and moissanite are diamond alternatives. But what they don’t know is that these stones are mass-produced, industrial stones with no market value when you consider their actual cost. These simulants can be picked up for as little as $50-$200.
Man Made Diamonds vs Real Diamonds
Man Made diamonds are an excellent alternative to natural or ‘real’ diamonds. Lab grown diamonds are very much real, and you don’t need to drill deep into the earth to get them. The mining process contributes to deforestation, loss of traditional or sacred lands and destruction of ecosystems. There’s no doubt natural diamonds are truly beautiful, but you can find an equally brilliant diamond grown in a laboratory and contribute to protecting the planet.
You may also have heard the term ‘blood diamonds’. Diamond mining is dangerous and has long been known as a cause for conflict and exploitation. It’s worth checking if the diamonds you are buying are ‘conflict free’, though you can be sure that lab diamonds are made in safe, ethical environments.
Another major benefit of man made diamonds is their price tag. You will get better quality for lower cost when buying lab grown diamonds. This means you can shop for bigger and clearer gemstones without breaking the bank.
It’s truly up to you which kind of diamonds you prefer. Some appreciate the eco-friendly and ethical sourcing of man made diamonds while others are willing to spend the extra money for the rarity and natural formation of mined diamonds. Either way, you can be sure you are getting real diamonds and the perfect gemstone for you.
- Cost of a lab grown diamond
- Are lab grown diamonds better for the environment?
- Are lab grown diamonds as strong as real diamonds?
Are Lab Created Diamonds Worth Anything?
There’s a reason so much effort is spent trying to recreate the processes of natural diamond formation.
Firstly, It’s always worth remembering that lab grown diamonds are nearly identical to mined diamonds, in structure, appearance and in strength. These diamonds are still highly valuable gemstones for their shine and brilliance. While not as expensive as mined variants, you will certainly find highly precious man-made diamonds on the market in beautiful items of jewellery.
Lab grown diamonds are still evaluated based on the 4Cs of diamond evaluation - colour, clarity, cut and carat (or size). Carat refers to the size of a diamond which can dramatically affect the value of the stone and the diamond jewellery in which it's used. Colour is one of the important factors in determining its value. Cut refers to a diamond's style or the design guide used when shaping a diamond for polishing and doesn't actually refer to the shape. Lastly, clarity refers to Imperfections of crystallisation that occur in diamonds and are known as ‘inclusions’. The presence of imperfections, or a stone's clarity, is a large component of assessing the value of diamonds.
The bigger and purer the diamond, the more valuable it is. You can find lab grown diamonds with incredible purity and no discolouration, however, they won’t be as steep in price when compared to a similar natural diamond. Man-made diamonds are also commonly paired with precious metals such as gold or platinum, which adds to their overall value.
All this doesn’t mean lab grown diamonds don’t have value - they certainly do, but you should be aware you aren’t going to get much return if you try to sell them. Generally, this shouldn’t be an issue, because most people buy diamonds with the intention to keep them forever or to give them to a special someone.