Where previous generations of jewellery lovers demanded diamonds mined from the earth—regardless of the cost, the younger generations of today demand diamonds that are as ethically sound as they are aesthetically pleasing. Which is why so many young jewellery lovers today are turning their attention toward lab-grown diamonds.
And with good reason. Lab-grown diamonds are—perhaps remarkably—identical to earth-mined diamonds. Yet, there is still skepticism around the authenticity of lab-grown diamonds. What exactly are they? And how are they made? To help you better understand, here is a simple guide to lab-grown diamonds.
A lab-grown diamond is—as the name suggests—a diamond grown in a laboratory. It has the same chemical, physical, and optical properties as a natural diamond, which means it has the same scintillation and sparkle. It’s also graded and certified to the same international standards as a natural diamond.
There are two types of lab-grown diamonds: CVD diamonds and HPHT diamonds. The names CVD (Chemical Vapour Decomposition) and HPHT (High Pressure High Temperature) refer to the methods used to grow the diamonds.
Both CDV diamonds and HPHT diamonds are grown using carbon, the same raw material that natural diamonds are made of. Though the methods used to create CVD and HPHT diamonds are different, essentially both are trying to mimic the same processes that form diamonds deep in the Earth.
A CDV diamond is grown by placing a tiny shard of diamond—also known as a diamond seed— into a vacuum chamber. The chamber is filled with carbon-rich gas before the temperature is raised to almost 800 degrees Celsius. This extreme temperature causes the gas to become plasma, releasing carbon pieces. Over a few weeks, these pieces layer onto the diamond seed, which forms the diamond.
A HPHT diamond is also grown with a diamond seed. The seed is placed in a press machine and—with the addition of carbon—is placed under both extreme pressure and heat. The carbon then melts and attaches to the seed, which again, over a few weeks, eventually forms the diamond. The method to grow a HPHT diamond is closer to the way a natural diamond is formed.
Though to the naked eye it is impossible to tell the difference between CVD diamonds and HPHT diamonds, they are different. The best way to identify a lab-grown diamond is to look at the diamond’s grading report.
Which is better? Given the different nuances that each type of lab-grown diamond has, it’s difficult to place either diamond higher than the other. If this is something you want to know more about, it is best to speak to a diamond professional, as they’ll be able to explain the intricacies of each diamond in detail. Regardless of which lab-grown diamond you choose, though, you’ll be getting a diamond that is identical in every way to a natural diamond, except that it is lighter on your wallet and your conscience.