There is a common misconception that lab created, or cultured, diamonds are any different than a commonly seen mined diamond… the key word of this sentence is misconception. A lab grown diamond is no different than a mined diamond other than its origin. Both diamonds display the same physical, chemical, and optical characteristics as the diamonds that are mined from the Earth’s crust. This is not to be confused with diamond imitates like Cubic Zirconia which does not share the same chemical characteristics or durability. This might not be an easy concept to grasp but…
In order to truly see how this is possible we need to dive into the science of just how these lab grown diamonds are created. Now before we go anywhere, the two main things that diamonds need is HEAT and PRESSURE. The Earth’s crust is a great place to find both of these things, however, with the development of more advanced technology, we have been able to harness HEAT and PRESSURE in labs, and create the same circumstances for diamonds to form.
This might get technical…
There are two processes used to create diamonds, High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) as mentioned above or Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD). The second method is preferred for high-quality diamonds you can wear.
Step #1: In this CVD process, 15-30 diamonds seeds, on a disc, are placed in the diamond growth chamber. Then you pump methane gas (CH4), and form a plasma with hydrogen (H).
Step #2: A plasma ball of superheated gas now fills the chamber. This acts as almost a microwave reactor for the heat portion of the equation.
Step #3: The heat is then increased to 900 – 1200 degrees Celsius for a high quality diamond.
Step #4: The carbon hydrogen species is activated and attaches itself to the seed atoms on the disc. This happens for 21 – 28 days while the process repeats itself over and over again in the chamber. As if 3D printed.
Step #5: You monitor the growth of the diamond and remove it from the chamber at the EXACT moment that is determined by a lot of science that I won’t get into… because I don’t know it… to give you the diamond with the highest level of characteristics.
Step #6: The diamond is sent to a gemologist for cutting and they cut the stone to perfection and set it in a ring.
Although this chemical process isn’t the same thing that happens in the Earth’s crust, it forms the exact same kind of diamond with the exact same characteristics. In the chemical process or not, the main ingredients of a diamond are there HEAT and PRESSURE from the chamber.
Lab grown diamonds look incredible, are much more friendly to the environment than unregulated mining practices and frequently sell for 30% less. Some brands have started to sell cultured diamonds exclusively and their jewelry is to die for.
You can’t tell the difference, because there just isn’t one.