LAB GROWN DIAMONDS
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
IS A LAB GROWN DIAMOND THE SAME AS A DIAMOND SIMULANT?
The answer is no.
A diamond simulant is a stone that mimics a diamond, but it doesn't have all the same properties as a diamond. Cubic zirconia is one example of an inexpensive diamond simulant. Moissanite is another example of a diamond simulant.
You might recognize Cubic Zirconia. Costume jewelry and inexpensive pieces that look like diamonds are made with this stone created from zirconium dioxide. Cubic Zirconia doesn't hold up well over time. It scratches and discolors easily and therefore isn't a good alternative to diamonds.
Next to diamonds, Moissanite is the second hardest stone. It's formed from silicon carbide. If you want a diamond substitute, this one is a better choice than cubic zirconia because it's less expensive than natural diamonds and durable.
Cubic zirconia and Moissanite have superb sparkle and are loved by many, but they are not chemically or optically similar to diamonds and are far less expensive because of this. Therefore, neither of these stones is the same as a lab grown diamond. Lab grown diamonds are made from carbon like natural diamonds are. A lab grown diamond's atomic makeup is the same as that of a natural diamond. Therefore, they are actual diamonds, not simulants.
THE MOST COMMON QUESTION: ARE LAB GROWN DIAMONDS REAL DIAMONDS?
The answer is yes.
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?
- IGI - International Gemological Institute
- GIA - Gemological Institution of America
- GCAL - Gem Certification & Assurance Lab
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.
TOP 5 BENEFITS OF LAB GROWN DIAMONDS
Today, lab grown diamonds are increasingly being used to make remarkable pieces of jewelry. There are several reasons why these man-made diamonds are growing more popular by the day. Here are just a few of the benefits that lab grown diamonds have over their natural counterparts.
1. Environmental Sustainability
Diamond mining can damage the earth substantially. The damage to ecosystems and watersheds extends well beyond the hole where the diamond mine is located. Between damage to natural habitats and the use of fossil fuels for running equipment, diamond mines are not environmentally friendly. Lab grown diamonds, however, can be grown using renewable resources to power the facilities. This is promising for future sustainability. In fact, with the demand for lab grown diamonds continuing to rise and the supply of mined diamonds being predicted to dwindle, it is a far more sustainable choice to switch to growing diamonds instead of mining them. Lab grown diamonds are the answer to the growing gap between the demand and supply of this brilliant stone.
As a bonus, lab grown diamonds are fully vegan, unlike naturally mined diamonds. Lab grown diamonds cause little to no environmental damage, and they’re more affordable as well, meaning that lab grown diamonds offer a great option for everyone involved, including the buyer, the manufacturer, the supplier, and the earth at large.
Whether you are purchasing an engagement ring or some other piece of diamond jewelry, you likely don't want to break the bank simply to afford a nice piece of jewelry. This is another reason to consider a lab grown diamond. They are often times less than a third of the price of a natural diamond. This means you can get a bigger lab created stone for the same money. Or, you could choose a more elaborate setting or a higher quality diamond than you thought you would be able to initially purchase.
One of the best advantages to buying a lab grown diamond is that to the naked eye, it looks exactly the same as a mined diamond. Diamond detectors and traditional observations cannot identify between the two given they are identical both chemically and optically. The only real difference is that lab grown diamonds have a microscopic inscription on them. However, without highly specialized equipment designed to read this inscription, the two types of diamonds cannot be differentiated from one another.
This means that your friends, family and acquaintances won’t know the difference. You can still get that engagement ring you’ve been dreaming of, with all the sparkle and shine that diamonds are known for, without the guilt of a mined diamond.
3. Improved Quality
You've likely heard of the 4 C's of diamond gradings. If not, it's clarity, color, cut, and carat weight. These 4 C's help you, or more specifically, the jeweler, know the quality of the diamonds you are viewing. Higher quality typically means a higher price, but remember, you get what you pay for. You can lean more about the 4C's on our diamond quality guide.
Lab grown diamonds are purer than the stones mined naturally, because unlike mined stones, lab grown diamonds do not have any dirt or impurities ingrained in them. They also have fewer defects, and show fewer signs of strain in their crystal structure, because they are made under carefully controlled conditions. Improved purity means that the diamond is poised to be brighter, better, and whiter. In fact, a large proportion of lab grown diamonds typically receive higher purity ratings than their natural counterparts.
4. Known Origin
People value knowing where their gems originate and would usually prefer to be aware of the journey of their stone. Unfortunately, the origins of most naturally mined diamonds can be vague, as they come from conflicted regions. Often called ‘blood diamonds,’ these stones have a dark background, and may have been sold to fund armed conflicts or civil disturbances. Even diamonds that aren’t sourced from conflicted regions might carry a history of child labor, human rights violation, and poor working conditions. There is a general disregard for safety with blood diamond mining. On the other hand, if you purchase a lab grown diamond, you will have a way to trace where it was grown. The history of a lab grown diamond is known, clean, and a guaranteed, trackable source.
5. Available in Colors
Occasionally, you will find a mined diamond that has color to it and these colored diamonds sell for inflated prices because of their rarity value. Also, the color of a diamond from a mine tends to be dull and imperfect. Thanks to technology, lab grown colored diamonds are available for a fraction of the cost of natural colored diamonds. And what’s even better is that they are brighter and more perfect than natural colored stones: lab grown colored diamonds are pure, steady in color and easy to find.
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 a lab grown diamond 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.