Lab grown diamonds or synthetic diamonds
Lab grown diamonds are diamonds with the same chemical and physical properties as natural diamonds. Contrary to popular belief synthetic diamonds are not environmentally friendly or green diamonds. Actually, so much energy is needed to recreate the natural growth environment that synthetic diamonds are much more damaging to our planet than their mined counterparts. What makes lab grown diamonds so appealing is their price. In most jewelry shops they cost about half the price of their natural counter parts. Although that might seem cheap at first, lab grown diamonds are actually much more expensive than their natural counterparts, that has to do with the resale value of diamonds. Once you buy a lab grown diamond there is no resale value and its wholesale price drops about 20% yearly as production costs and technological advances make the manufacturing process cheaper. Natural diamonds on the contrary are a valuable investment that keeps its value over time as has been proven for over 4500 years.
Manufacturing of Synthetic Diamonds
There are 2 different types of synthetic diamonds available on the market HPHT (High Pressure and High Temperature) and CVD (Chemical Vapour Disposition)
HPHT synthetic diamonds have been around since the mid-1950s. General Electric created the first such diamonds, to create such diamonds temperatures of 1400°C and pressures around 55000 atm were necessary to make such diamonds from graphite. In the 1980s the technology had advanced enough for gem quality stones to be produced. Today using HPHT technology diamonds in all colours can be created.
Difference between Lab Grown and Natural Diamonds
CVD diamonds were developed in the 1950s as well. These diamonds are grown at very low pressure and relatively low temperature of 800-1000°C by depositing carbon from a carbon containing gas mixture in a sealed vessel. To create CVD diamonds a diamond seed needs to be present, from that seed carbon vapour will bind and a diamond will start to grow. With CVD technique brownish, greyish, bluish or colourless diamonds can be manufactured. In 2001 the commercial production of such diamonds became economically feasible. Currently China is the main producer of synthetic rough diamonds.
With the naked eye it is impossible to identify the difference between lab grown diamonds and natural diamonds. Therefore, it is strongly recommended to only buy from trusted suppliers.
It is possible to identify synthetic diamonds from natural diamonds using one of the numerous synthetic diamond testers available on the market. It is important to mention that a simple diamond tester will not be able to differentiate between a natural and synthetic diamond.