April 15, 2024

The Science Behind Lab-Created Diamonds

History shows that diamonds began gaining popularity and have been mined since the late 1800s. Back then, nobody would have thought of the possibility of technology in the creation of diamonds. But in the mid-1900s, that’s exactly what happened as companies began producing diamonds in labs.

These diamonds were meant for industrial purposes because of their thermal conductivity and hardness. NASA even recognized the value of lab grown diamonds and used them in their satellites. This can be attributed to the fact that lab grown diamonds could withstand the heat of the atmosphere.

Over time, we’ve seen the transition to using lab grown diamonds for fine jewelry. We can now see the likes of solitaire diamond rings, lab-created diamond earrings, and lab grown diamond tennis bracelets being bought and gifted to loved ones.

Lab grown diamonds, also known as cultured or cultivated diamonds, are in such high demand these days. These gemstones have also been widely accepted by people worldwide. Natural diamonds face a little controversy because of their origin and the mining process. But when it comes to lab grown diamonds, there has been no conflict to date.

However, many individuals are unaware of and continue to have reservations about the authenticity of lab-created diamonds. They are still unsure about which form of diamond is more affordable to buy.

How Lab-Created Diamonds Are Made in the Laboratory

Lab-created diamonds are made in an artificial setting. The creation process mimics how mined diamonds are made naturally below the earth’s mantle. There are two ways to create lab grown diamonds, and they are:

  • Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD)
  • High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT)

Both methods work to make real, high-quality diamonds that are the same as diamonds that are mined. 

  1. The CVD Diamond Creation Technology

Scientists began experimenting with the CVD process to grow diamonds in the lab in the late 1980s. The CVD process imitates how mined diamonds are formed in interstellar gas clouds. Small machines and less pressure are used in this process. This has become the preferred production process for colorless diamonds in a lot of laboratories.

In this production process, the diamond seed is placed in a vacuum chamber. After that, the chamber is filled with carbon-rich gases and heated to nearly 1500 degrees Fahrenheit. The gas turns into plasma due to the extremely high temperatures, which causes the release of carbon pieces. The carbon pieces rain down onto the diamond seed, causing its creation.

Perfecting the CVD process to create diamonds has enabled scientists to grow large, colorless diamonds.

The chemical vapor deposition process consistently produces superior type IIA diamond quality. Such diamonds are extremely rare for earth-mined diamonds. That’s because 97 percent of natural diamonds are type I diamonds. These are the kinds of diamonds that you’ll find in your local jewelry store.

Type IIA diamonds are the most chemically pure diamonds, lacking nitrogen and/or boron impurities. This makes them brighter and harder compared to type I diamonds.

  1. The High Pressure High Temperature Technology (HPHT)

The HPHT process is the original method of producing lab created diamonds. This process recreates the diamond’s natural growing environment, which is found deep within the earth.

This process was improved with time, and in the early 1950s, it started creating quality HPHT gem-grade diamonds. Apart from growing diamonds, this process also helps to enhance the color of lab created diamonds. The diamond’s color can either be colorless, green, pink, blue, or yellow. The HPHT diamond creation process starts with: 

  • A small diamond seed
  • A highly refined graphite carbon
  • A catalyst consisting of a mixture of metals and powder

The seed is placed in the center of the HPHT chamber and exposed to extreme heat and pressure. This replicates the way mined diamonds are grown under the ground. The diamond seed is then exposed to temperatures that exceed 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. Simultaneously, the seed is subjected to pressures of approximately 1.5 million pounds per square inch.

The carbon melts and changes its atomic structure. It then forms a diamond around the seed, where it’s cooled and the diamond is formed.

Within the HPHT process, there are three main press designs that are used. A cubic press is used to create diamond powder that’s used for industrial purposes. Cubic presses can also be very large, and they use six separate anvils that press onto a small cube. This is what creates the necessary pressure for crystal diamond growth.

Belt press is the founding technology that’s behind the creation of lab grown diamonds. A belt press can be very large and can produce a lot of diamonds in only one cycle. This is done by using two huge anvils that press together to create the necessary pressure.

The belt press can effectively produce gem-quality diamonds but is commonly used to produce diamonds for industrial purposes.

It’s also used in the creation of diamonds in powder form. Today, the Bars press is used in the production of gem-quality diamonds. The Bars press uses the inner and outer anvils to apply hydraulic pressure to the growth cell within the unit.

Which Lab-Grown Diamonds Are Better Between Those Created Through the HPHT and CVD Process?

If you’re considering a diamond pendant necklace, you must be wondering whether to go with the HPHT diamond or the CVD diamonds. Both technologies are fascinating, and each one of them has its advantages and disadvantages.

The good news is that you don’t have to worry about what technology was used for the diamond on your engagement ring. Just like it is with mined diamonds, the brilliance of lab grown diamonds stems from their physical features and not their production process.

Like mined diamonds, the 4Cs are used to grade and price lab created diamonds. Also, whether created through the HPHT or the CVD process, lab grown diamonds are far more superior and affordable. Additionally, these are the most ethical options and are conflict-free.

Conclusion

The production of lab grown diamonds requires a controlled environment and certain parameters. Lab grown diamonds are more environmentally friendly than mined diamonds. There is no need for scientists to engage in intensive mining that damages the ecosystem, soil, and vegetation.

Lab created diamonds are preferred over mined diamonds. These man-made diamonds have grown in popularity due to their capacity to produce any sort of loose diamond.