The article will cover everything you need to know about lab created diamonds and their growing process. It will also resolve all your doubts regarding their certification and grading process as well as their authenticity.
Lab created diamonds are also known by various names such as lab grown diamonds, lab diamonds, cultured diamonds, or cultivated diamonds. Since they are actually made of carbon atom structures, they exhibit similar optical and chemical features like that to their natural counterpart. Since they are easy to produce in laboratories, they have a high demand in the market and are available at a cost-effective price.
How are lab created diamonds grown?
Naturally mined gemstones grow because of extreme heat and pressure subjected to them for millions of years. This in turn, transformed carbon atoms into captivating and alluring gemstones. Lab diamonds are made through two processes: Carbon Vapor Deposition (CVD) and High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT).
Carbon Vapor Deposition (CVD)
In carbon vapor deposition, a tiny seed (preferably an HPHT stone) is put inside a compact chamber at 1400 Fahrenheit. The chamber is typically infused with hydrogen and methane.
Using a similar technology used in microwaves or lasers, the gases are ionized to break the molecular bond of gases. After this, pure carbon begins forming around the seed to form a new diamond.
The speed at which a CVD diamond grows depends on your required stone size and the technology used. Top CVD diamond producers can produce one carat diamond in less than a month, and slightly smaller diamonds can be created within two weeks.
The internal structure, chemical composition, and physical and lustrous beauty of CVD diamonds are exactly as they are in natural diamonds. A CVD diamond provides a high degree of durability, with a hardness of 10 Mohs, as well as intense brilliance and sparkle. Unlike natural diamonds, CVD diamonds are extremely rare to find completely flawless - some are heavily included and heavily colored, while others are colorless with only minuscule flaws.
The global market size of lab grown diamonds was valued at $19.3 billion in the year 2020. The value is expected to reach $49.9 billion by 2030. The CVD segment is expected to continue to dominate the lab grown diamonds market in the coming years.
High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT)
In the HPHT method, a small diamond seed is put inside the carbon using a BARS press, cubic press, or belt press. The carbon is then exposed to a pressure of 1.5 million pounds per square inch and a temperature of 2700 Fahrenheit. The temperature and pressure melt down the carbon, thus forming the primary diamond seed.
Developed by General Electric in 1954, HPHT simulates the natural process diamonds go through within the Earth. In order to meet the demands for high quality, lab grown gems, HPHT's manufacturing designs are continuously being tweaked to become larger and more efficient.
Since mined diamonds and HPHT diamonds share similar properties, the same goes for their durability. We all know no two natural diamonds are similar; likewise, no two HPHT diamonds appear the same. The Cut, color, carat, and clarity of HPHT diamonds are assessed in the same way as traditional diamonds.
It is expected that the global market for HPHT Diamonds is projected to reach multi-millions by 2028, compared to 2021, at an unexpected CAGR during 2022-2028.
How are lab created diamonds certified and graded?
The same institution grades both natural and lab diamonds. The Solitaire Gemological Laboratories Ltd. (SGL) has been fully equipped to grade diamonds for years. High-tech laboratories allow them to distinguish natural diamonds from lab diamonds in-depth. SGL certifies diamonds based on the four C's – cut, color, clarity, and carat.
Lab made diamonds are graded and given a score on these four C's, and a detailed, comprehensive report is given, including its origin. If you have the certification from SGL, you can be sure of the quality and authenticity of the lab made diamond. All of their highly equipped labs provide the same level of reliability in their reports through the same processes and technologies.
Lab Created Diamonds vs Natural Diamonds
The 4Cs of a diamond are the globally recognized ultimate standards for evaluating diamond quality. They consist of a key concept to look at when assessing and purchasing diamonds. Diamonds have the following 4Cs:
- Cut – Grading the quality of the diamond cut.
- Carat – Grading the weight of a diamond.
- Clarity – Grading the clearness of the stone.
- Color – Grading the color hue of the stone.
The thumb rule of concept is that no two diamonds are the same; they all sparkle and dazzle in their own unique way. Let us now understand each quality standard mentioned above in-depth to have a better understanding.
The diamond cut is considered one of the most critical aspects when determining the quality standards of the stone, most particularly when it comes to sparkle which makes each diamond so unique. The Cut of a diamond determines how it interacts with the light and is often confused with a diamond shape though both are very different.
Basically, a diamond cut grade is a measurement of how a stone’s facets interact with the light. When assessing a diamond cut, the three most important concepts are measured, namely, scintillation, fire, and brilliance. Scintillation is the amount of sparkle a diamond can emit from within. The scattering and dispersing of white light are known as fire. Brilliance is the measurement of how the light is reflected from the diamond.
Diamond cut is an important 4Cs of diamond quality besides the diamond color, carat weight, and clarity. The way a diamond is cut influences the amount of sparkle it reflects and emits.
Diamond carat weight is the term coined for the measurement of the weight of a diamond. While a heavy diamond indicates a bigger carat, that is not necessarily the case. Depending on the Cut of a diamond, a smaller diamond can also look bigger than a diamond of a larger carat. When determining the size of a diamond stone, you usually look at its carat.
How important is carat when purchasing lab diamonds? Personal preference ultimately prevails. However, know that a change of 0.5-carat weight, on the other hand, will not have much impact on the visual size of your lab grown diamond. As a result, there will be an impact on the diamond price. It's important to remember that the bigger the carat size of a diamond, the more expensive it will be!
There can be some confusion over the diamond color because of its name. Actually, it is the absence of color, or more accurately, lack of tint, that matters. In the laboratory, as well as in nature, the presence of gases (nitrogen) or structural imperfections can tint the diamond, typically making the color yellow or brown. As a result, not all, and in fact, very few, diamonds are colorless, even when grown in a laboratory.
The colors of diamonds are graded between D and Z, with D meaning truly colorless and Z meaning clearly yellow or brown. Due to their rarity and cost, colorless diamonds are extremely valuable, and the differences between lesser color grades are not apparent under natural light.
Last but not least, clarity is an important aspect of a diamond’s quality standards. There are two types of inclusions: those trapped in the stone and those that are visible on the surface. Clarity can be confused with color imperfections but is actually about tiny inclusions trapped inside the stone. In reality, clarity refers to tiny internal inclusions or surface blemishes in the stone that could be confused with color imperfections. These can appear as tiny cracks (internal) or scratches (external).
The clarity of the diamond ranges from completely flawless to noticeable through the eye. Grading involves examining and determining the imperfections' size, location, and severity by magnifying the diamond by ten times (in practice, this is usually done more than ten times). Generally, only a highly qualified grader is able to detect these flaws under 10X magnification.
The sparkle of diamonds is determined primarily by how well they have been cut to reflect light. At the end of the day, it boils down to personal preferences and how you intend to use the diamond (as an investment or adornment).
How to identify lab created diamonds from natural diamonds?
Basically, you cannot depict the difference between natural and lab created diamonds without using special equipment, even if you are a professional gemologist by profession. One of the best ways to identify the difference between the two is to check their grading reports.
If professional gemologists evaluate whether the diamond is a lab grown or mined, they use certain magnification to figure out the nature of inclusions. The inclusions present in the lab made diamonds are slightly different from that in their natural counterparts. Apart from that, there are differences in how the diamond reflects light when compared with lab created diamonds.
To put it in simpler terms, the naked eye can never distinguish between the two when comparing or looking at a natural diamond next to the lab created diamond.
|Lab created diamonds||Natural diamonds|
|They can be grown within a few days or weeks. It takes little time for them to produce.||They are formed inside the earth’s crust and take billions of years.|
|They are composed of carbon atom structures.||Natural diamonds are also made of carbon atom structures.|
|They are produced in bulk quantity.||They are rare in nature and are formed only under specific natural conditions.|
|They are available in various ranges of carat weights and shapes.||They are also available in various range of designs and shapes.|
One of the most important reasons why mined diamonds are so expensive is that they are so scarce and rare in nature. Mining these gemstones out from the Earth's crust is a complex and expensive process as one never knows what is going to come out.
Stones are considered limited in number, and the circumstances under which they are formed vary, so the characteristics used to classify them are also unique. The other factors that add up to its cost are labor and energy involved in polishing and mining these gemstones.
In contrast, laboratory made diamonds are less expensive and more cost-effective since they can be easily manufactured. The manufacturing process of growing gemstones in laboratories does not require any extra labor and energy. Thus, it is easy to fulfill people's demands, which lowers the cost of lab-made gemstones.
The material on which lab grown diamonds are based is carbon, the same material as natural diamonds. Thus, both natural and man-made gemstones are the hardest material on Earth – they measure 10 on the Mohs scale of hardness and are quite difficult to chip like their natural counterpart.
It is not uncommon for grading agencies, including the Gemological Institute of America and the International Gemological Institute, to use the same methods and standards in grading lab created diamonds as they do for natural diamonds. It is important to note here that since these grading institutions are using the scale for the evaluation of both natural and man-made stones, the difference between the 4Cs is almost nil.
Inclusions and "flaws" that impact sparkle and clarity grade can also be found in lab grown diamonds because they are grown, not built. It is likely that a stone with more inclusions will be cloudier and will have a lower clarity grade. As with natural diamonds, lab-grown diamonds range from Flawless (F1) to Included 3 (I3) in clarity.
Just like in clarity, both lab grown and natural gemstones are graded on the same color scale. Natural diamonds and lab grown diamonds have no visual difference, and most couples are interested in near-colorless gems in the G to J range. The gemstones in the range between D and F appear rarely in nature and are very expensive.
Advantages Of Lab Grown Diamonds
1.Superior purity and quality
Objectively speaking, diamonds that are created in laboratories are purer than naturally mined diamonds blown out from the Earth with diesel and dynamite. A diamond grown by mankind has fewer defects and less strain in its crystal structure than in the chaos under the Earth. Since it has fewer defects and negligible signs of strains in the crystal structure, the quality of the gemstone made in laboratories is better. As a matter of fact, lab made gemstones always receive higher ratings in purity than natural ones.
2.The origin of the gemstone is known
The greatest advantage of buying a diamond made in laboratories is that we know the source of its origin. Blood diamonds, child labor, and exploited workers continue to plague the mining industry to this day, not just historically but throughout the entire supply chain.
When these gemstones are made in laboratories, they do not harm the environment, cause no labor exploitation, and require less manufacturing cost. Thus, you will have the satisfaction of buying something that is ethically sourced and environmentally friendly.
3.You can get a bigger diamond in your budget
Lab grown diamonds may have one of the more obvious appeals, and we agree that getting more bling for your money is pretty appealing. We all know that natural diamonds have to be mined and, thus, are quite scarce in nature. This is one of the reasons why they are so expensive since they are rare and their extraction process includes a lot of costs.
In contrast, laboratory made stones are grown at a much lower cost and thus are not scarce in nature. You can easily splurge your money on bigger diamonds as they are available at a much lower cost. Thus, you can buy a bigger diamond without breaking your bank or budget. If you are planning to propose to your girlfriend, lab made stones are your go-to gemstone to make a grand proposal on a budget.
4.Environmentally friendly and ecologically sound
As climate data grows more alarming, we know many people want to make the planet a better place. To understand how a diamond is mined, you must consider how much carbon-intensive energy it takes to extract it. The heavy equipment used to extract these gemstones from the Earth leaves massive holes in the ground, which harms our ecosystems
In contrast, no mining is required in the case of lab grown diamonds. They provide no harm to our mother earth and are completely safe and friendly. The CVD and HPHT method to grow diamonds in labs is the technological wonder we have been waiting for decades.
Are lab created diamonds real?
To answer in simpler terms, yes, they are absolutely real! Lab made diamonds and natural diamonds are physically, chemically, and optically similar in every aspect. Just like natural gemstones, they are made of carbon, thus emitting a brilliant shine and radiance.
The only difference between these two types of gemstones is their place of origin. They possess the exact same durability and strength to withstand everyday wear and tear.
Lab made diamonds are the perfect alternatives to natural diamonds if you want to avoid the astronomical price tag without compromising their quality.