Are Lab-Grown Diamonds Real Diamonds?
The ultimate question: are lab grown diamonds real?
The short answer is yes. Lab-grown diamonds have been instrumental to the shift of the jewelry and diamond industry in a new era of sustainability, offering a mindful alternative in an ecosystem previously dominated by mined diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds share the same physical, atomic, and chemical properties of their mined counterparts and are recognized as real by consumer protection agencies.
Officially, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) defines a diamond as “A mineral consisting essentially of pure carbon crystallized in the isometric system” and no matter the source of the diamond, both share this chemical composition.
The ultimate difference between lab-grown and mined diamonds is in fact in the way it is created. Attributes such as “lab-grown” and “mined” refer to the origin of the diamond; while mined diamonds are extracted through complex pit, underground or alluvial methods and utilize heavy machinery and an extensive amount of labor, lab-grown diamonds are created by replicating the way diamonds are made in nature but with no negative environmental or human toll.
The difference between lab-grown and natural diamonds could be compared to the difference between plants naturally growing in a forest versus plants grown in a controlled environment like a vertical farm.
Are lab-grown diamonds the same as mined diamonds?
Lab-grown diamonds share the same properties as mined diamonds, with the only difference being their origin. As of 2018, The FTC considers both lab-grown and mined diamonds to be real.
Whether created in a lab or mined from the Earth, both diamond types share an identical process. They form first by placing carbon atoms under high temperature and enormous pressure, which then bond together to produce a glassy structure.
Once that is achieved, you would have a rough diamond; be it a mined or lab grown diamond would require cutting and polishing to reveal its maximum brilliance. Identical to mined diamonds, lab-grown diamonds also exhibit singular variations in color and clarity that occur naturally during the diamond’s growth process, which make each diamond unique.
The polished diamonds are then graded on the same scale as mined diamonds, known as the 4C’s, and receive a certificate documenting their individual cut, color, clarity and carat weight.
Let’s straighten the facts though: Lab-grown diamonds are not moissanite or cubic zirconia.
How are lab-grown diamonds made?
The two most advanced methods to grow a lab-grown diamond are: chemical vapor deposition (CVD) and high pressure, high temperature (HPHT).
HPHT is a thermodynamic process that involves placing a diamond seed into pure carbon, then applying intense pressure and heat. The carbon attaches to the diamond seed in 14 different directions and forms a rough diamond with a complex cuboctahedron shape.
CVD uses vacuum chambers to convert carbon-heavy gasses into plasma. Kinetics then allow the carbon atoms inside the chamber to build on top of the diamond seed in a single vertical direction, forming a rough diamond with a square shape.