Whether it’s a ring, a bracelet, earrings, or a necklace, diamonds can easily take your look to the next level. You can go from simple to glam in seconds with the help of a few dazzling adornments. Diamonds are revered and are commonly seen as a symbol of commitment, being the stone of choice for engagement and wedding rings. If you’re in the market for a new diamond you may have heard about lab-grown diamonds, but it can all be a bit confusing. Here’s everything you need to know about lab-grown diamonds and how they are made.
The process of making a diamond in a lab is much more efficient. Labs use two different methods to grow diamond-High Pressure-High Temperature (HPHT) and Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD).
When the HPHT method is used, a small diamond seed is placed into a piece of carbon. Then using either a belt press, cubic press, or a split-sphere (BARS) press, the carbon is pressurized to approximately 1.5 million pounds per square inch. Additionally, the carbon is also exposed to temperatures over 2,700 Fahrenheit. This pressure and heat begin to melt the carbon, forming a diamond around the initial diamond seed. The newly formed diamond is then carefully cooled.
Like HPHT, CVD uses a small diamond seed (often an HPHT diamond). This seed is placed inside a sealed chamber that is heated to over 1,400 Fahrenheit and filled with carbon-rich gases (typically methane and hydrogen). These gases are then ionized into plasma using a technology similar to lasers or microwaves. This technology essentially breaks down the molecular bond of the gas. Once the molecular bond is broken down, pure carbon begins to stick to the seed, and a new diamond forms. Additional treatments may be used (heat or irradiation) to enhance or change the diamond’s color after it is grown.
Unlike the billions of years it takes to create mined diamonds, lab-grown diamonds typically take less than a month to grow. White diamonds take the longest time to grow, with it taking 2+ weeks to grow a 1-carat diamond. On the other hand, yellow and blue diamonds take 5-10 days. It is important that the growing process is not rushed when making diamonds. If the process is rushed the crystal will fracture.
Lab-grown diamonds are manufactured using conditions that mimic the natural process that creates earth-grown diamonds. This means that carbon is subjected to high temperatures and high pressure in a controlled environment. The end result is a diamond.