Lab-Grown Diamonds Q & A
What are lab-grown diamonds?
Lab-grown diamonds are man-made diamonds grown in a laboratory. They have the exact same optical, physical, and chemical composition of a natural diamond.
Are lab-grown diamonds synthetic diamonds?
One would think that lab-grown diamonds would be synthetic since they do not form organically from nature. However, the lab-grown diamond industry has strongly opposed using the term “synthetic” to describe their diamonds. They have argued that it is not accurate to call a lab-grown diamond “synthetic” and a mined diamond “natural” because a lab-grown diamond has the exact same optical, physical, and chemical properties as one formed in nature. Both points have been accepted by the Federal Trade Commission (USA) and their final revisions were approved in the Jewelry Guides July 2018. For the rest of the world, we can still call lab-grown diamonds synthetic diamonds, but if you are trading in the USA, you should be aware of the correct terms.
How and where are the lab-grown diamonds made?
The two methods currently used in growing diamonds are High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) and Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD). Both methods use lab-grown or natural diamonds as seeds. The diamond is then grown in controlled environments. China is a major lab-grown diamond producer; Russia, Singapore, India, and the USA are also significant growers.
How long does it take to form a lab-grown diamond and how does that compare to the formation of a natural diamond?
The growth cycle of a lab-grown diamond ranges from a few days to a few weeks. This is similar to the formation time of a natural diamond. Natural diamonds are formed deep under earth’s surface, a naturally high pressure and high temperature environment, in liquid molten rock rich in iron, then brought to the surface of earth by volcanic eruptions. The youngest diamonds formed some 90 million years ago and the oldest around 3.3 to 3.5 billion years ago.
Are lab-grown diamonds environmentally friendly?
In order to create a high-pressure, high-temperature environment resembling the earth’s mantle, a tremendous amount of energy is required. Additional independent research is needed to assess the environmental effect of lab-grown diamond as current findings are inconclusive.
How much do lab-grown diamonds cost compared to natural diamonds?
The current price of lab-grown diamonds is 20-40% lower than natural diamonds, but with more players entering the lab-grown market, technology improving, and increasing production, the price of lab-grown diamonds will most likely fluctuate from the current level.
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