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Lab Created Diamonds

What Are They?

Lab-created diamonds (also known as lab-grown diamonds) are made with advanced technology that simulates the way a natural diamond is formed in the earth's mantle. They are "real", having the exact same chemical structure as natural diamonds. The only difference is simply in how they were created: the one in the earth, the other in a laboratory. Experienced gemologists can find it almost impossible, in fact, to distinguish between the two, and must use special machines to determine their origin. In 2018, the Federal Trade Commission revised its definition of a diamond and ruled that "lab created products that have essentially the same optical, physical and chemical properties as mined diamonds are also diamonds".

Lab-created diamonds are more cost-effective and less expensive to purchase than mined diamonds, a difference that has no bearing whatsoever on quality but is a reflection of the much greater costs involved in mining and the subsequent long journey along a supply chain. By the time a mined diamond reaches a retailer, it has been dug out of the ground, passed through distributors, then into the hands of cutters and polishers before it even reaches the jewelry manufacturing process.

Lab-created diamonds are more cost-effective and less expensive to purchase than mined diamonds, a difference that has no bearing whatsoever on quality but is a reflection of the much greater costs involved in mining and the subsequent long journey along a supply chain. By the time a mined diamond reaches a retailer, it has been dug out of the ground, passed through distributors, then into the hands of cutters and polishers before it even reaches the jewelry manufacturing process.

What’s Their Environmental Footprint?

The environmental impact of lab-created diamonds in comparison to mined diamonds is smaller. While diamonds created in a lab require a high amount of energy to produce, and mining companies do take measures to mitigate their environmental impact, the factory-contained process provides a cleaner alternative.

Learn more about Anjolee's Green Manufacturing

How is a Lab Created Diamond Made?

There are two processes used to create diamonds in a lab - High Pressure-High Temperature (HPHT) and Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD).

Both diamond-making processes begin with a diamond seed, which is a small and flat wafer-like fragment similar in size and shape to a silicon chip.

The CVD Method

The Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) method of creating diamonds has gained the most worldwide interest from researchers and diamond industry experts.

CVD is a simpler process and is less costly than HPHT because it does not require such intense pressure and heat.

Here’s how it works:

First, a diamond seed is smoothed and polished, then placed inside a vacuum chamber containing a hydrocarbon gas mixture. A dozen or so seeds can be placed inside the chamber at a time.

Then the magic begins.

Inside the chamber, the gases (which include a carbon source such as methane and hydrogen) are heated to create what is called a plasma ball.

The heat is increased inside the chamber, which causes the gases in the plasma ball to attach and crystallize on top of each diamond seed.

After a few weeks, the seeds will have grown to approximately 10 times their original size.

When the process is complete, the rough diamonds are then removed from the chamber. From there, they are cut and polished to perfection.

The CVD method is typically used for creating larger-carat diamonds.

The HPHT Method

High Pressure-High Temperature (HPHT) is the method that General Electric first used in the 1950s, and it is still used today.

Producing diamonds using the HPHT method is costly because of the large amount of energy that is required, along with the expense associated with the equipment.

Here’s how it works:

One of three types of presses (a belt press, cubic press or split-sphere press) is used to apply an intense amount of pressure and high temperature to a diamond seed.

The pressure and heat are combined with a carbon source to form (or ‘grow’) a diamond.

Once the process is complete, the resulting stone is cut and polished to prepare it for commercial use.

Typically, the HPHT process is used to create smaller diamonds. It is also well-suited for industrial applications, such as creating diamonds for use in cutting tools.


The History of the Lab Created Diamond

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, attempts were made to create diamonds out of carbon. One such diamond created in 1926 may be found in a museum in Kansas. By the 1940s, researchers in the United States, Sweden and the Soviet Union discovered two processes that replicated how natural diamonds were made, as described above: HPHT (High Pressure High Temperature) and CVD (Chemical Vapour Deposition).

The first commercially successful man-made diamond was created in 1954 as part of a three-company project led by General Electric, and announced the following year. While the diamond they created was not "gem quality", the project paved the way for further development. Swedish researchers were also successful in creating diamonds during this period.

By the late 1980s, the process of creating diamonds in a lab had been perfected and become commercially available. More than a century of research lies behind the lab-created diamonds that are indistinguishable from their mined counterparts and as importantly, leave a gentler environmental footprint.



Is Third-Party Certification Available for Lab Created Diamonds?

Yes, Anjolee works closely with accredited gemological laboratories that evaluate both natural and lab grown diamonds, and provide third-party certification.

GEMOLOGICAL INSTITUTE OF AMERICA (GIA)

The GIA specializes in certifying loose diamonds and they certify and provide documentation for lab created diamonds, in addition to natural diamonds.

The GIA performs the same full 4C’s assessment for carat, cut, clarity and color that they do for natural diamonds.

Certifying lab grown diamonds with the GIA is recommended for diamond stud earrings, and the center stones of engagement rings. Certifying diamonds for other types of jewelry, like a tennis bracelet or necklace, however, is usually not cost effective, as the charge is applied per stone certificate.

INTERNATIONAL GEMOLOGICAL INSTITUTE (IGI)

The International Gemological Institute (IGI) certifies completed pieces of diamond jewelry made with either natural or lab created diamonds.

The IGI thoroughly documents the jewelry's identification according to weight, measurements, shape, cut, finish, proportions, clarity, color, and the quantity of precious stones. Documentation also includes the item's precious metals (i.e., by weight and content).

An IGI certificate is ideal for finished diamond jewelry such as bracelets, necklaces, earrings and rings.