Posted on October 07, 2014 by Mary Hood | 0 Comments
A Lab-Grown Diamond
While some diamond companies sell natural diamonds exclusively, referring to them as the only “real” diamonds, lab-grown diamonds are just as "real." In fact, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) acknowledges that describing lab-grown diamonds as “synthetic” may be misleading. At the same time, however, describing lab-grown diamonds as “real” without also acknowledging their origin may be misleading as well.
While the industry is still establishing how to most appropriately market these little wonders, we’ve got the facts you need to know in the meantime.
How are lab-grown diamonds produced?
Beginning with a diamond seed, diamond laboratories create an environment that mimic that of a natural diamond.
Diamonds are created using one of two methods: High pressure-high temperature (HPHT) or Chemical vapor deposition (CVD).
In the HPHT method, a diamond seed is placed at the bottom of a press, which is then heated internally (to 1400C!). This high temperature melts a solvent metal, ultimately precipitating the formation of a diamond, atom by atom.
CVD use methane (MH4) and hydrogen (H2) to duplicate the natural crystallization process of carbon of a diamond seed. As the carbon crystalizes over the diamond seed, it forms a tetrahedral structure, just as it would in nature.
Are lab-grown diamonds eco-friendly?
The “greenness” of lab-grown diamonds is another topic of debate in the jewelry industry. While some diamond manufactures market their diamonds as “eco-friendly,” this term is often used loosely (both in and outside of the jewelry trade).
For some, a label of “eco-friendly” on a product may imply that the product was produced with no environmental impact—or even a positive environmental impact. At this point in diamond-making technology, however, diamond manufacturing is better described as having a smaller environmental impact than traditional diamond mining.
And there’s certainly more to the story that we’re still in the process of discovering. While this article from Stanford’s alumni magazine suggests that replacing natural diamonds with man-made diamonds would save millions of miles’ worth of auto emissions, the environmental cost of diamond manufacturing is still unclear. In other words, it’s hard to say just how much less damage in done by diamond manufacturing.
So far, we’ve just touched on the environmental component of manufacturing diamonds. The conscious consumer, however, is most likely interested in social impacts as well. Fortunately, lab-created diamonds are not associated with “conflict” or “blood” diamonds, which, due to loopholes in the Kimberly Process, sometimes manage to sneak in the legitimate diamond trade.
To sum, lab-grown diamonds may incur less environmental damage than mined diamonds--and come with no less sparkle or durability. At this point in time, we incorporate lab grown diamonds when requested by the customer or may suggest it as a more economical option. All listings on this site are for natural diamonds unless specified otherwise.