What are Lab-Grown Diamonds?
Lab-grown diamonds are diamonds that were grown by scientists in a lab. They share the same chemical makeup as natural diamonds, and are optically identical. The biggest differences between natural and lab-created diamonds are how they’re made, and how rare they are.
Are lab-grown diamonds real?
Laboratory grown diamonds share an identical chemical make up to natural diamonds, both consisting of pure carbon in a cubic crystalline form. The difference between lab-grown diamonds and natural diamonds is how they are formed. Natural diamonds form below the surface of the earth over millions of years, whereas lab-grown diamonds can be created in a lab over a period of a few weeks. Lightbox diamonds are grown to match the chemical properties of a natural diamond and the finished stone is optically identical. You can find more details on how they’re made below.
How are Lab-Grown diamonds made?
There are a few methods used to create lab-grown diamonds. Typically, lab-grown diamonds start with a tiny lab diamond, like a seed. The seeds are placed in a chamber called a plasma reactor (in the case of CVD synthesis) or a large mechanical press (if manufactured by HPHT). Then, depending on the technology used, some combination of heat, pressure and a carbon source are used to make the crystals grow, layer by layer.
The CVD Method
CVD stands for chemical vapor deposition
Lab grown diamond seeds are loaded into a CVD reactor. Then, a mix of gasses containing carbon is added at a very low pressure. Microwave energy is used to heat the gases and generate a plasma. When the temperatures climb over several thousand degrees, the gas molecules break apart and carbon atoms bond to the seeds, growing them one layer at a time.
The HPHT Method
HPHT stands for high pressure high temperature
This method mimics the conditions under which diamonds naturally form. Large mechanical presses are used to apply extreme pressure and high temperature to carbon in the presence of a diamond seed. The seeds act as a template for a lattice of carbon to grow layer by layer over the course of a few days.
How long does it take to grow a diamond?
In nature, it takes millions of years for diamonds to form. In a lab, we can grow a one carat stone in about two weeks.