Laboratory grown diamonds are identical to natural ones and are made in laboratories with advanced technologies.
Scientist Antoine Lavoisier demonstrated in 1772 that diamonds are made only from carbon. From that moment on, the unstoppable research for the creation of diamonds in the laboratory began, which became a topic of strategic importance for many countries given its essential role in the industry.
After years of research, chemists James Hanna (in 1880) and the discoverer of moissanite Henry Moissan (in 1893) declared wrongly, but in good faith, that they were able to produce diamonds using a similar procedure as the one described by H. G. Wells, in the 1894 novel “The diamond maker”. Wells was aware of the procedure used by Hanna because it was published in 1880, in The Times, by the minerology director of the British Museum.
General Electric pretends to be the first company in the world who created diamonds at the end of the year 1954. However, the Swedish company ASEA already succeeded in 1953, creating diamonds in their own laboratory, but the news were made public barely in the ’80’s, because it was a secret project. The economic interests for diamond creation were so big, that an underground war was unleashed to seize industrial secrets. At that time, diamonds of modest size (less than 1 mm) could be created, of poor quality, which could only be used in the abrasives sector. Quality diamonds began to appear in the 1970s and were used in research. It was only in the early 2000s that quality but small laboratory diamond jewelry was introduced to the market. After this date, American companies began to produce larger diamonds.
The Romanian industrial diamond factory Rami Dacia, credited with stories worthy of an espionage novel, did not withstand Chinese competition and had to close in 2010.
There are currently, very few companies in the world capable of producing large, high-quality diamonds, called “laboratory grown diamonds”, and the demand for them is growing exponentially.
Laboratory grown diamonds are identical to natural ones and have nothing to do with zircon or moissanite. They are diamonds in every way! A plastic example would be to compare an ice cube taken from a glacier with that in the freezer at home. We are dealing with ice, frozen water, in both cases.
Laboratory grown diamonds are cut and certified in the same way as natural diamonds but inscribed with the words “laboratory grown” in order to not create confusion. These laboratory grown diamonds are produced using two methods, HPHT and CVD.
The HPHT ( High Pressure High Temperature ) technique is the simplest, graphite is used and is subjected in large presses, to temperatures of 1,500 degrees C and pressures of over 50,000 atmospheres, simulating the natural process inside the earth. This technique does not allow precise process control, almost all small laboratory diamonds ( < 0.30 ct ) are produced with this method.
The CVD method ( Chemical Vapour Deposition ) is one of the most complex, advanced and secret industrial processes in the world. It was recently discovered that the CVD process is found in outer space, in heated gas clouds where stars form. Simplified, the process consists of introducing methane ( CH4 ) into a steel cylinder, here methane transforms into a plasma sphere ( the fourth state of aggregation of matter ) powered by microwaves, at a temperature of over 3,000 degrees. Highly reactive carbon radicals, extracted from methane, descend into the reactor, where temperatures are lower and where they settle on very thin diamond “slices” that grow atom by atom, creating diamond crystals of exceptional quality. The process has the advantage of creating diamonds with custom features required by the industrial and research world.
The laboratory grown diamonds ends up having final costs, for the public, substantially lower than the natural ones, and the new generations of customers seem to like them because they have a lower impact on the environment and their origin is verified.
The success of the laboratory grown diamond, was also helped by the fact that De Beers company itself, which always opposed in the past laboratory grown diamonds, decided in 2018 to produce its own jewelry line only with this type of stones.
It is estimated that 15 tons of earth have to be extracted for each carat of polished natural diamond and 160 kg of CO2 are introduced into the atmosphere, but our laboratory grown diamonds introduce less than 5 kg of CO2 .