Undoubtedly the popularity of lab-grown diamonds has surged over the past several years. Nearly 70% of Millennials today prefer lab-grown diamond alternatives over traditionally mined diamonds owing to the high environmental and humanitarian toll of extracting mined diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds have a matching carbon structure the same as mined ones. However, while the former takes millions of years to form, the latter is produced within days or weeks.
So what are the methods to grow a diamond in the lab? Read on to find out more.
What is a Lab-Grown Diamond?
Lab-grown diamonds are gemstones produced in a laboratory environment replicating the mined conditions under which diamonds formed in the Earth's mantle millions of years ago.
They are as real as diamonds mined from the Earth and have the same chemical, physical and optical properties mined diamonds have. They also exhibit the same durability, sparkle, scintillation, and fire and will test as diamonds when using a diamond tester.
How are Lab-Grown Diamonds Made?
Lab-grown diamond production methods simulate the natural conditions that create diamonds deep underground.
There are two main methods of production involved:
- The high-pressure/high-temperature process (HPHT): This method subjects carbon to extreme temperatures and pressures that replicate the extreme heat and pressure conditions found deep within the Earth where natural diamonds occur. The growth process occurs in a small capsule inside an apparatus that generates high pressures and temperatures. The diamond seed is placed in the capsule and the growth chamber heated to 1300-1600 °C and subjected to pressures above 870,000 pounds per square inch. This dissolves the high-purity carbon source, and carbon atoms precipitate on the small diamond seed crystal. Ultimately, a diamond grows into lab-grown crystals. The crystals are then cut and polished by a diamond cutter.
- Chemical vapor deposition (CVD): The CVD method uses chemicals, precisely a mixture of hydrocarbon gas (methane) and hydrogen. The mixture is introduced into a gas chamber at an elevated temperature of between 900 to 1200°C and very low pressures. This allows activated carbon-hydrogen species to attach themselves to an available carbon atom on the diamond seed. The seeded growth is now one carbon atom thicker. This process repeats itself severally to create the diamond's crystal structure in three dimensions. The crystals are then cut and polished, ready for processing.
Although both methods are commonly used, CVD is the most preferred technique when producing gem-quality lab-grown diamonds for jewelry. HPHT is mostly used to produce lab-grown diamonds for industrial use.
4 Reasons to Choose Lab-grown Diamonds
The following are some of the advantages of lab-grown diamonds over the mined alternatives:
- Environmentally friendly and sustainable: Mining diamonds can damage the Earth and destroy the environment. The mining process uses colossal amounts of fossil fuels, contributing to global warming and climate change. Lab-grown diamonds have none of these issues. They are fully vegan and cause little to no environmental damage.
- Ethically sourced: Unlike mined diamonds, lab-grown gemstones don't present the harsh conditions that miners often go through to extract diamonds from the Earth. Usually, there is a high risk the diamond you are acquiring was sold to fund armed conflicts or civil disturbances. Some also have an unenviable history of child labor, human rights violations, and poor working conditions. Buying lab-grown diamonds guarantees you do not involve yourself in conflict regarding humans or the environment.
- Guaranteed origins: Diamond lovers prefer to be aware of their stones' origins from inception till acquisition. Unfortunately, the journey of most naturally mined diamonds can be vague as they come from conflicted regions. However, with lab-grown diamonds, you can trace the stone's origins to ensure you are not supporting unethical atrocities.
- Competitive prices: Engagement rings don't come cheap. Mined diamonds sell for inflated prices due to the highly controlled market. Diamonds grown in a lab are far less expensive and sometimes can save you over half the price of a mined one.
How Long Does It Take to Grow a Diamond in the Lab?
Lab-grown diamonds usually take between 6 and 10 weeks to grow in laboratories. This is a comparatively shorter period than mined diamonds formed between 1 billion and 3.3 billion years ago. Lab-grown diamonds also last a lifetime and beyond, just like a mined diamond.
Get a Custom Diamond Gift from Carbon Diamonds
Many shoppers today increasingly choose lab-grown diamonds over mined ones for many reasons. Apart from their affordability, lab-grown diamonds are eco-friendly and more sustainable. They also provide complete assurance that they are ethically sourced.
If you are shopping for high-quality lab-grown diamonds for your special event, Carbon Diamonds has you covered. Contact us today to learn more.