When you shop for diamonds, you may come across unfamiliar terms, like CVD, HPHT, and mined diamonds. Learning what these terms mean allows you to make an informed decision about which type of diamond you’d like to purchase. So when it comes to CVD vs. HPHT vs. mined diamonds, which is best for you?
Here’s what you need to know:
What Are CVD vs. HPHT vs. Mined Diamonds?
CVD, HPHT, and mined diamonds are terms that refer to how diamonds are made. CVD stands for Chemical Vapor Deposition, while HPHT stands for High Pressure, High Temperature. Mined diamonds, as you can guess, are diamonds that have been removed from the earth through mining.
All three methods produce genuine diamonds that are identical in appearance and durability and have the same physical, chemical, and optical qualities.
Traditional Sourcing Method
Mined diamonds are hundreds of millions to billions of years old. Scientists believe they were formed in the Earth’s mantle when the planet was hotter than it is now. The combination of heat and pressure bound carbon atoms together and caused them to grow crystals, eventually forming diamonds. These diamonds were then brought to the surface by deep volcanic eruptions that no longer occur today, making mined diamonds a finite resource.
New Technology for New Sourcing Methods
Today, we can grow diamonds in a lab, through either CVD or HPHT, instead of mining them from the earth. HPHT technology has been around since the 1950s and involves crystallizing carbon into diamonds through the use of high pressure and high temperatures, similar to the way diamonds are naturally formed.
CVD is a more recent technology. Diamonds produced by CVD are made in a vacuum chamber, where microwaves are used to break down molecules of gasses like methane to free carbon atoms. The carbon atoms then build up on a substrate, binding together and forming diamonds. This process can create diamonds in a variety of colors depending on the substances that are introduced, and it can also create colorless diamonds.
Price Differences in CVD vs. HPHT vs. Mined Diamonds
One of the biggest differences between lab-grown diamonds and mined diamonds is the price. Lab-grown diamonds cost approximately 40% to 60% less than mined diamonds. Mined diamonds change hands many times, with the price increasing each time. They are mined, refined, traded, and shipped all over the world.
Lab-grown diamonds are less expensive than mined diamonds, but they require expensive machinery and materials, along with highly trained staff. The CVD process is initially less expensive than HPHT because it can be done with smaller equipment and requires less energy. However, CVD diamonds often need further heat treatment after the initial growth process.
Ultimately, the price of lab-grown diamonds is determined more by the color and quality of the diamond than whether it was produced by CVD or HPHT.
Ethics of CVD vs. HPHT vs. Mined Diamonds
Many consumers are also drawn to CVD and HPHT diamonds rather than mined diamonds for ethical reasons. That’s because mined diamonds often come with concerns about human rights and environmental impacts.
Unethical Impact of Mined Diamonds
For example, mined diamonds have been used to finance civil wars and are frequently mined by children. People working in diamond mines also often live in poverty and suffer from diseases like silicosis, a lung disease that is typically fatal within 21 years of diagnosis.
The impact on the environment is also devastating. Mined diamonds are associated with deforestation, soil erosion, pollution, and overconsumption of water. In addition to the worldwide impacts of these environmental effects, local communities and wildlife suffer from the effects of pollution and water scarcity.
Ethical Impact of CVD and HPHT Lab Grown Diamonds
In contrast, both CVD and HPHT are more sustainable and ethical alternatives. Because they are lab-grown, they are made by highly-skilled adult workers, so you don’t need to worry about supporting child labor. And they result in a much smaller environmental footprint, since lab-grown diamonds do not require digging up the earth, introducing contaminants into the water supply, long supply chains, etc.
The HPHT process typically uses more energy than does CVD because of the higher temperatures and pressure involved. However, both methods are significantly more environmentally friendly than mined diamonds. And because mined diamonds are a finite resource that creates a considerable environmental impact, there is no way to mine them sustainably. Diamonds produced by CVD and HPHT are far more sustainable.
Find the Right Lab Grown Diamond
At Carbon Diamonds, we are committed to providing an ethical alternative to mined diamonds. And each diamond comes with a report, so you can tell whether your lab grown diamond was produced by CVD or HPHT.