Lab Grown Diamonds 101
If you’re purchasing a diamond today, you’re likely to face an important choice when it comes to picking the stone that’s right for you. That choice can be between natural diamonds, which originate in the earth, and a man-made product called “laboratory-grown” or “laboratory-created” diamonds. By now, you’ve probably heard the phrase “lab grown diamond” a few times, if not more. Over the last few years, lab grown diamonds have been a hot topic in the diamond jewelry world. Yet, even if you are familiar with these stones, you may be unsure of whether a lab grown diamond is a fit for you — possibly because so many rumors and competing beliefs about lab grown diamonds often overshadow the facts.
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LAB GROWN DIAMONDS
THE MOST COMMON QUESTION: ARE LAB GROWN DIAMONDS REAL DIAMONDS?
HOW ARE LAB GROWN DIAMONDS MADE?
A lab grown diamond has the same chemical, physical, and optical properties as an earth-mined diamond, except instead of growing in the Earth, it has been grown in a highly-controlled laboratory environment. The process of creating a lab grown diamond is rather quick and can be made in as little as under a month. They are categorized as either high-pressure, high-temperature (HPHT) or chemical vapor deposition (CVD) diamonds, depending on the method of their production. These methods artificially replicate natural conditions found in the Earth, forcing carbon atoms into a crystal structure. Both processes produce a diamond that appears identical to a natural diamond when examined by the naked eye.
- With the traditional diamond growth method, called High-Pressure High Temperature (HPHT), synthetic diamonds are produced from carbon material in apparatuses that mimic the high pressure, high temperature conditions of natural diamond formation in the earth. This dissolves the carbon into a diamond seed.
- The newer method, Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) , involves filling a vacuum chamber with carbon-containing gas that crystallizes on a synthetic diamond seed. This method uses lower temperatures and pressures than HPHT.
Both methods are currently popular methods of diamond growth. The CVD diamond growth method requires a lower upfront equipment cost than HPHT but may require subsequent treatment to improve the color of the diamonds grown.
THE HPHT DIAMOND GROWTH PROCESS
- Diamond seed is placed in a specifically designed press.
- The growth chamber is heated to 1300-1600 °C with pressures above 870,000 pounds per square inch.
- The molten metal dissolves the high purity carbon source.
- Carbon atoms precipitate on a small diamond seed crystal, and a synthetic diamond begins to grow.
- The lab-grown crystal is then cut and polished by a diamond cutter.
In greater detail, HPHT diamond growth takes place in a small capsule inside an apparatus capable of generating very high pressures. Within the capsule, a carbon starting material, such as graphite, dissolves in a molten flux consisting of metals such as iron (Fe), nickel (Ni) or cobalt (Co), which lowers the temperature and pressure needed for diamond growth. The carbon material then migrates through the flux towards the cooler diamond seed and crystallizes on it to form a synthetic diamond crystal. Crystallization occurs over a period of several days to weeks to grow one or several crystals.
THE CVD DIAMOND GROWTH PROCESS
Diamond seed crystals are placed in a diamond growth chamber.
The chamber is filled with carbon-containing gas.
The chamber is heated to about 900-1200°C.
A microwave beam causes carbon to precipitate out of a plasma cloud and deposit onto a seed crystal.
Diamonds are removed every few days to have the top surface polished to remove any non-diamond carbon before being put back in to grow. Each batch of diamonds may require several stop/start cycles, and the entire growth process can take three or four weeks.
After the synthetic diamond crystals are removed, they are ready to be cut and polished into the final product.
In greater detail, CVD diamond growth takes place inside a vacuum chamber filled with a hydrogen and carbon-containing gas, such as methane. A source of energy — such as a microwave beam — breaks down the gas molecules, and the carbon atoms diffuse towards the colder, flat diamond seed plates. Crystallization occurs over a period of weeks, and several crystals grow at the same time. The exact number depends on the size of the chamber and the number of seed plates. The tabular crystals often develop a rough edge of black graphite that needs to be cut away. They also display a brown color that can be removed by heat treatment prior to faceting. Most CVD-grown colorless material on the market were probably once brown crystals that have been decolorized by HPHT annealing. Like the HPHT diamond growth process, the CVD method continues to improve and allow manufacturers to offer larger sizes with improved color and clarity.
HOW CAN YOU DISTINGUISH A LAB GROWN DIAMOND FROM A NATURAL DIAMOND?
WHY BUY CERTIFIED LAB GROWN DIAMONDS?
Gemological Institution of America - GIA
Lab grown diamonds are graded in similar fashion just as mined diamonds considering all 4C’s (color, cut, clarity and carat) and hence no differentiation of grading is required for each. The best way to know the authenticity of a diamond is when they are certified by the renowned laboratories mentioned above.
WHY CHOOSE A LAB GROWN DIAMOND?
At Devon's Diamonds & Decor, we believe that both natural and lab grown diamonds are excellent options. Still, there are a few unique benefits you should know that come along with embracing a lab grown diamond — and how important these perks are to you depends on your one-of-a-kind situation.
Of course, diamond jewelry is always going to come with a price tag, but with lab-created diamonds that price tag is much lower; we're talking half the price of natural diamonds. That is because the supply chain is much shorter and the process is renewable. This gives customers the ability to purchase jewelry with higher carat total weights at an accessible price point. The affordable luxury appeal of lab grown diamonds crosses all generations from Gen Z to Baby Boomers. So whether you're a newly engaged couple on a budget or you would like a bigger look with better quality for less money, opting for a lab grown diamond is the way to go.
LOOKING FOR LAB GROWN DIAMONDS IN BOCA RATON?
The primary benefit of offering lab grown diamond jewelry to customers can be defined with one word: choice. At Devon's Diamonds & Decor, we offer both natural and lab grown diamonds, explain each to the customer, and allow them to decide.
Within the last few years, lab grown diamonds have been growing in popularity and more and more of our customers have been inquiring and purchasing lab grown diamonds. Whether you are looking to custom design an engagement ring, purchase a lab grown diamond tennis necklace or even a pair of lab grown diamond stud earrings, the simplistic beauty of lab grown diamonds makes it easier to come by a higher quality that fits into all types of budgets. Call or stop by our family-owned and operated jewelry store in Boca Raton today to design your next piece of lab grown jewelry.