When you buy a piece of diamond jewelry, you expect the gems to be beautiful, clear, and enduring – symbols of love, success, and self-worth.
And that’s exactly what you get with lab-grown diamonds, which are physically, chemically, optically, thermally, and visually identical to mined diamonds, with the same hardness and durability that have made these gems sought after throughout history.
But how, exactly, do scientists grow diamonds in a lab? There are two currently accepted methods. They share this reality: all lab-grown diamonds, including AIDIA’s, begin life from a diamond seed. Using high-tech equipment, laboratories then use that seed to grow new diamonds. Here’s how:
* HPHT (High Pressure, High Temperature) diamonds are created by replicating the natural geological process by which diamonds form deep in the earth, under extremely high pressure and at extremely high temperatures. Small seed diamonds are placed into a machine, covered with a mixture of catalyst metal and graphite powders and subjected to temperatures up to 2,500 degrees centigrade and pressure up to 60,000 atmospheres. From this mixture of pressure and temperature, diamond grows.
* CVD (Chemical vapor deposition) diamonds are created using a process that involves depositing a carbon vapor onto a diamond seed, in a low pressure environment, using carbon-bearing gases to trigger a reaction. Manufacturers can precisely control the diamond composition and create either a single crystal or a polycrystalline form. Using the CVD method, manufacturers are more likely to produce larger – and more often colorless — gem-quality lab-grown diamonds more economically than with the HPHT method.
Regardless of which process manufacturers use to grow diamond, however, it’s important to note that they cannot entirely control the color and clarity of the diamonds they produce. Just as with mined diamonds, each lab-grown diamond has its own unique “fingerprint” and its own unique imperfections. Happily for diamond consumers, this means lab-grown diamonds include a variety of very pretty colored diamonds – as well as the range of colorless specimens. Lab-grown diamonds also come in a range of clarity grades. In the end, this is why lab-grown diamonds are graded in exactly the same way that mined diamonds are. You’ll notice on AIDIA’s website that our lab-grown diamonds are graded using the familiar color and clarity grades of all diamonds: http://www.aidia.com/diamonds.
Lab-Grown Diamonds vs Imitation White Stones
And just to clarify: Lab-grown diamonds should never be confused with white stones such as cubic zirconia (CZ), moissanite, and other inexpensive imitations. These stones do not have the same chemical, optical, thermal, and visual properties of diamond. Only diamonds grown via either the HPHT or CVD methods described above, are exactly the same as mined diamonds.
A diamond, whether mined or lab-grown, is also the hardest substance known to man (ranking 10.0, the highest level on the Mohs Hardness Scale). Jewelry containing mined or lab-grown diamonds can be worn every day and passed on to heirs because of diamond’s incredible durability.
Thus, when you think about lab-grown diamonds, it’s best to adopt the French expression: plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose (“the more things change, the more they remain the same.”).
When high-tech lab processes can give us the same product, without the risks of human rights abuses or mines disturbing the earth, I think that’s a win for all of us. Some things never change.