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What is lab grown diamond

March 25, 2021

What Exactly is a Lab-Created Diamond?

Synthetic diamonds go by many different names — lab-grown, lab-created, lab-made and even engineered diamonds. These names all point to the fact that synthetic diamonds are created in a laboratory or factory rather than occurring in nature and mined from the earth. Some synthetic diamond laboratories use advanced technology to mimic the conditions that natural diamonds undergo when they form beneath the earth’s crust. This origin story is the main factor that sets synthetic diamonds apart from natural ones, since synthetic diamonds have essentially all of the same chemical, optical and physical properties and crystal structure as natural diamonds.

How Are Lab Diamonds Made?

The original process used to create lab grown diamonds, high pressure high temperature (HPHT) mimics the natural growing conditions of diamonds that come from deep within the Earth’s crust. It’s a bit like making ice if the analogy helps: Ice forms naturally, yet you can reproduce the same conditions from the comfort of home to make it yourself. Much like diamonds. Just don’t try this at home.

The first reproducible lab grown diamond was created using HPHT in 1954. The process uses a press to generate pressure over 1.5 million pounds per square inch and heat above 2,000 degrees Celsius to grow a diamond from a small seed. And once that diamond is grown, it’s sent off to be cut and polished just like a naturally-grown diamond. HPHT is known for producing large, white diamonds in the 2-5 carat range with D-F color. It is also used to treat both natural and CVD-grown diamonds to make them whiter.

CVD on the other hand—which stands for chemical vapor deposition—is the modern disruptor of lab grown diamond technology. With CVD, a thin slice of diamond seed (often produced through HPHT) is placed in a sealed chamber and heated to around 800 degrees Celsius. The chamber is then filled with a carbon-rich gas (usually methane) along with other gases.

The gasses are then ionized into plasma using microwaves, lasers, or other techniques, which breaks down the molecular bonds in the gases and causes the pure carbon to adhere to the diamond seed. What then? Well that carbon slowly builds up into a larger diamond crystal, atom by atom, layer by layer. CVD tends to grow smaller, warmer-toned diamonds in the 1-2.5 carat range with G-I color.

Are Lab Grown Diamond Real?

We know. All you really care about is whether CVD or HPHT diamonds are really, well, real. And yes. They are. Both of these processes produce gem-quality diamonds physically, chemically, and optically identical to natural diamonds. They’re the same thing. Just like ice grown in your own freezer is still ice.

The Difference Between CVD And HPHT Diamond.

Well, assuming you’ve purchased it from a reputable source, the growing process will be listed on the diamond certificate. But there are few other ways to deduce its origin if you want to test your detective skills. Remember, if it’s a D-F color diamond Less than 1 carats, it’s most likely HPHT. Some HPHT diamonds are also magnetic! This happens when metallic flux (a remnant of the growing process) is present inside the diamond. They may also have a slight “blue nuance” listed on their certificate, which is caused by the presence of boron gas in the growing chamber. CVD diamonds on the other hand, may have silicon inclusions, (remnants of their growing process) that are not present in natural diamonds.