What Are Lab Made Diamonds?
Lab-grown diamonds, also known as man-made or cultivated diamonds, are created in a laboratory setting using advanced technologies that mimic the formation conditions of natural diamonds.
How Lab Grown Diamonds Are Made
Over the last few decades, scientists have found a way to ‘grow’ diamonds using diamond ‘seeds’. The process mimics that of natural diamond-formation, using extreme pressure and heat to replicate specific conditions found deep below the earth’s surface.
Just like earth-made diamonds, lab-diamonds are made from pure carbon with the same cubic-crystalline composition. Lab diamonds often undergo further treatment once ‘grown’. Similar to natural diamonds, fancy-coloured lab-grown diamonds are created by slightly altering the formation process using specific trace elements.
There are a few different methods that can be used to create lab-grown diamonds, but two of the most common are Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD) and High-Pressure High-Temperature (HPHT) synthesis.
Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD)
In the CVD process, a small diamond seed is placed in a chamber and heated to a high temperature. A gas mixture containing carbon is then introduced into the chamber, and the carbon atoms in the gas attach to the diamond seed, slowly building up a larger diamond crystal.
High-Pressure High-Temperature (HPHT)
In the HPHT process, a mixture of carbon and a catalyst (such as metal) is placed in a press, which applies very high pressure and temperature to the mixture. The carbon atoms in the mixture then bond together to form a diamond crystal.
Choosing A Lab Diamond Engagement Ring
Lab-grown diamonds are a popular choice for engagement rings because they are chemically, physically, and optically identical to natural diamonds, but are often less expensive and ethically-sourced. They are also available in a wide variety of colours and can be customised to a specific size and shape.
When shopping for a lab-grown diamond engagement ring, there are a few things to consider. The first is the carat weight of the diamond, which determines its size and overall appearance. The second is the diamond’s colour and clarity. Colour refers to the presence of any impurities that affect the diamond’s colour, while clarity refers to any internal or external flaws. Both colour and clarity are graded on a standardised scale, with higher grades indicating a better quality diamond.
The final thing to consider when shopping for a lab-grown diamond engagement ring is the cut of the diamond, which determines its overall sparkle and brilliance. The most popular cut is the round brilliant cut, which is known for its excellent sparkle. Other popular cuts include the pear shape, princess cut, cushion cut, and oval cut.
Ultimately, the best lab-grown diamond engagement ring is the one that meets your personal preferences and budget.
Certifying Lab Grown Diamonds
Lab-grown diamonds are certified in a similar way to natural diamonds. The main organisations that certify lab-grown diamonds are the International Gemological Institute (IGI), the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), and the Hoge Raad voor Diamant (HRD).
These organisations use various techniques to grade the quality of lab-grown diamonds, including evaluating the diamond’s carat weight, colour, clarity, and cut. They also use advanced equipment such as microscopes and spectrometers to analyse the diamond’s internal and external characteristics.
After a lab-grown diamond is graded, the organisation will issue a certificate that includes detailed information about the diamond’s characteristics. This certificate is known as a “diamond grading report” or “diamond certificate.” Additionally, you may want to look for a diamond that has been certified as “conflict-free”, meaning it was not mined in an area with political or human rights issues.
Cape Diamonds is South Africa’s leading sustainable diamond retailer, offering conflict free diamonds, ethically sourced precious metals and 100% recycled gold so you can wear your jewellery conscience-free.
Identifying Your Lab Diamond
Lab-grown diamonds and Earth-made diamonds are almost identical, which makes it difficult to tell them apart without specialised equipment.
Man-made diamonds are created in a controlled environment and have less variations in colour, clarity and other characteristics compared to rare colours and variations found in natural diamonds. They also don’t have many inclusions, which are small imperfections found in natural diamond formations. However, there are a few ways you can differentiate between the two.
Look at your grading certificate
A lab-grown diamond will typically be labeled as such on the certificate, and will also include information about where and how the diamond was grown. This certificate contains a unique serial number which is laser-inscribed onto the girdle of your diamond. Lab Diamond serial numbers often start with “LG”, which can easily be seen under a microscope if there is no damage to your diamond.
Another way is to look at the diamond’s inclusion patterns, which are internal characteristics that can be used to identify a natural diamond. Lab-grown diamonds are usually grown in a controlled environment, which means they often have fewer and smaller inclusions compared to natural diamonds. However, this method can be tricky and often requires special equipment and expert knowledge, so it is not always reliable.
You may also be able to tell the difference between a lab-grown and a natural diamond by looking at any fluorescence under UV light. While fluorescence is not a definitive test for a lab-grown diamond, as natural diamond also may fluoresce, but lab-grown diamond tend to have a higher rate of fluorescence, it can be a sign that the diamond is lab-grown.
Bring in the experts
However, the most reliable way to tell the difference between a lab-grown and a natural diamond is through advanced testing methods, such as Raman spectroscopy or chemical vapour deposition (CVD) diamond identification. These methods are not typically available to the general public and are usually only used by diamond grading laboratories.
So, while it is hard to tell the difference between a lab-grown and a natural diamond with the naked eye. The most reliable way is to check the certification and to be informed about lab-grown diamond identification methods.
Discover more with our Natural vs. Lab vs. Synthetic page
Lab Diamonds Are
Your Next Best Friend
The Same, But Different
Lab-grown diamonds and natural diamonds have many similarities, including their physical and chemical properties. Here are a few examples:
Both lab-grown and natural diamonds are made of pure carbon that has been crystallised into the diamond structure. This makes them both optically, chemically, and physically identical.
Diamonds are the hardest known natural material, and lab-grown diamonds are no exception. They both have a hardness of 10 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, which means they are extremely durable and resistant to scratches and chipping.
Sparkle and Fire
Both lab-grown and natural diamonds have a high level of refractive index, which causes them to sparkle and emit a rainbow of colours when light is reflected through them. This is known as “fire” and is a defining characteristic of diamonds.
Diamonds are highly durable and resistant to breakage, and lab-grown diamonds are no exception. They are also resistant to wear and tear and can last a lifetime with proper care.
Both lab-grown and natural diamonds are considered gemstones and are used in jewellery making. Their exceptional sparkle and unmatched durability make diamonds the perfect choice for everyday wear and heirloom pieces.
The Science Behind Lab Grown Diamonds
Ferdinand Moissan, after whom moissanite is named, was among the first intrepid alchemists of the modern era to attempt to create a diamond in a laboratory. In 1893, just 96 years after the discovery that diamonds were comprised of pure carbon, he found success. In the decades that followed into the twentieth century, numerous other scientists tried their hand at making diamonds, some of them using the “recipes” of their forebears.
The modern process of creating the lab-grown diamonds was first developed in the 1950s. The process, called high-pressure high-temperature (HPHT) diamond synthesis, involves recreating the high pressure and high temperature conditions found deep within the Earth, and using a small diamond seed to grow a larger diamond crystal. Another method, called chemical vapour deposition (CVD), involves using a plasma to deposit carbon atoms onto a substrate, where they form into a diamond crystal.
At first, these lab-grown diamonds were not of the same quality as natural diamonds, and were mostly used for industrial applications, such as cutting and polishing tools. However, as technology improved and the quality of lab-grown diamonds increased, they began to be used in the jewellery industry as well.
In the early 2000s, Lab-grown diamonds started to be marketed as a more ethical and sustainable alternative to natural diamonds, as well as more affordable. These benefits became more prominent over time and lab-grown diamonds are now considered as a good alternative to natural diamonds, especially with the concerns of human rights, environmental issues and conflict resources associated with natural diamond mining.
The lab-grown diamond market has continued to grow and evolve, with more advanced technology being developed and more options available for consumers. Today, lab-grown diamonds are considered a viable alternative to natural diamonds for use in engagement rings, wedding bands, and other types of jewellery.
Customise Your Lab Made Diamond
Lab-grown diamonds can be customised in a variety of ways to suit your style preference and budget. Here are a few examples:
Carat weight: Lab-grown diamonds can be customized to a specific carat weight, which determines the size and overall appearance of the diamond. This allows the consumer to choose a diamond that is the right size for their budget and personal preference.
Colour: Lab-grown diamonds can be created in a variety of colours, including colourless, yellow, blue, and even pink. This allows the consumer to choose a diamond that matches their personal style and complements the metal of the ring.
Clarity: Lab-grown diamonds can also be customized for clarity. Clarity is a measure of the presence of any internal or external flaws and inclusions, and lab-grown diamonds can be created with fewer and smaller inclusions.
Cut: The cut of the diamond can affect its sparkle and brilliance, so lab-grown diamonds can be customised to a specific cut. Popular cuts include the round brilliant, princess, cushion, and oval cuts.
Shape: Lab-grown diamonds can also be customised to a specific shape, such as round, pear, marquise, or oval shape.
Certification: Lab-grown diamonds can also be certified by a reputable organisations like GIA and IGI, which adds credibility to the diamond and gives the consumer peace of mind.
Additional customisations: Depending on the seller or vendor, lab-grown diamonds can also come in different grades, fluorescence, and also be set in a customised ring.
The Popularity of Lab Grown Diamonds
One of the major markets for lab-grown diamonds is the United States, where they have been gaining popularity among consumers looking for affordable and ethically-sourced diamond options. China and India are also significant markets for lab-grown diamonds, as both countries have large populations with a growing interest in diamond jewelry. Europe is also becoming an important market for lab-grown diamonds, with more and more consumers opting for them over natural diamonds.
Additionally, lab-grown diamonds are being increasingly used in various industrial applications, like in cutting and polishing tools, lasers, and semiconductors. The market for these industrial applications is expected to grow at a steady rate in the future.
Overall, the lab-grown diamond market is expected to continue to grow in the coming years as more consumers become aware of these diamond options, and as more jewellery retailers and manufacturers begin to offer lab-grown diamonds in their products.
Natural diamonds are not always financially viable. Sometimes, the symbolism of a diamond is more important to an individual than the price. Some individuals may not be looking for an investment but for memorable experiences.
Ultimately, choosing between a natural or lab-made diamond depends on what you value most about your engagement ring and diamond purchase
The best decision is an informed decision.– Joel Graham