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Lab-created diamonds (which have also been referred to as lab-grown diamonds, synthetic diamonds, artificial diamonds, cultivated diamonds or cultured diamonds) are man made diamonds that mirror natural diamonds. Because they actually consist of carbon atoms structures, lab-grown diamonds display the same chemical and optical characteristics of a natural diamond crystal produced by the geological processes of Mother Nature. Synthetic diamond prices are generally lower than natural diamonds.
Lab-created diamonds are made by replicating the processes that result in the creation of natural diamonds.
Natural diamonds grow through intense heat and pressure which, over millions of years, transforms carbon atoms into beautiful and captivating gemstones we know as diamonds.
Lab-created diamonds grow the same way, only through a man-made process that takes several weeks, not millions of years.
Man-made diamonds begin with a tiny piece of diamond, known as a diamond seed. This seed is placed sealed inside a special chamber designed to mimic conditions within the Earth’s crust.
The seed, coated in pure carbon, will eventually transform into a synthetic diamond, chemically identical to a natural diamond.
There are two different methods used for lab-created diamonds; High Pressure-High Temperature (HPHT) and Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD).
HPHT places intense heat (around 1,500 degrees Celsius, or 2,700 Fahrenheit) and pressure (1.5 million pounds per square inch) on the diamond seed and the carbon atoms coating it. On the other hand, CVD uses less heat and pressure, instead introducing a mixture of chemical gases that break down and harden into crystallized carbon atoms.
With both methods, the result is the same; a man-made diamond, created from scratch in a matter of weeks.
Let’s get one thing out of the way: I agree that synthetic diamonds look exactly like natural diamonds (so long as we’re referring to lab-grown diamonds, not diamond simulants or cubic zirconia). I’m not going to get into the technical details of how they make diamonds because that is not the issue. Lab-Created diamonds are diamonds.
Lab-created diamonds and natural diamonds differ primarily in how they made but also other qualities like price, resale value, rarity and desirability. Here, we give a breakdown of lab created diamonds vs. natural diamonds:
|Lab-Created Diamonds||Natural Diamonds|
|Lab-grown in a matter of weeks||Formed under the earth’s crust over billions of years|
|Constructed of carbon atoms structures||Constructed of carbon atoms structures|
|Lower price||Higher price|
|Available in a range of shapes and carat weight||Available in a range of shapes and carat weight|
|Somewhat desirable for engagement rings||Very desirable for engagement rings|
You can’t tell the difference between lab-created diamonds and natural diamonds without specialized equipment, even if you’re a professional gemologist. The best way to tell the difference between lab-grown diamonds and natural diamonds is to look at the grading report.
If a professional gemologist is determining if a diamond is mined or lab-grown, they use magnification to look at the nature of the inclusions. The inclusions in a natural diamond appear slightly different than in a lab-created diamond. There are sometimes also differences in how the diamond reflects light compared with a synthetic diamond.
In general, though, when looking at a lab-created diamond next to a natural diamond, you can’t distinguish the two.