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How did Lab grown diamonds originate?

Monday, April 5, 2021

Diamonds are a symbol of royalty and elegance. Traditionally, they were only mined out of the Earth. The natural diamonds we find today were made billions of years ago when the Earth was formed. But man’s curiosity has always led to path-breaking inventions and the same happened in case of diamonds. With the strong desire to create diamonds himself, was born the famous lab grown diamond that we so commonly see today.

Birth of the lab grown diamonds

Long back in the year 1797, scientists discovered that diamonds are made out of carbon. Since then attempts to make diamonds had been going on. Although unsuccessful, these attempts did lay the foundation to creating the diamonds. None of these attempts were successful enough to be mentioned though. General Electrics (GE) was the company to successfully create the first batch of lab grown diamonds in the year 1954. The idea of a synthetic diamond was conceived by an inventor from Utah, called Tracy Hall. The conception was then given birth to by GE.

Originally, these diamonds weren’t meant for aesthetic purposes. They had industrial uses. Experimentation was done on the diamonds to know more about their properties, sturdiness and similarity to natural diamonds. The thermal conductivity, high ability to resist electricity, optical transparency, etc. made them perfect for commercial industrial use. It was much later sometime in the year 1979 that these diamonds got their rightful place among precious gemstones. Lab grown diamond engagement rings are very popular since then.

Creation of the lab grown diamonds

Two main methods were discovered for the creation of lab grown diamonds: High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) and Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD). Even today, these same processes are used. On an average lab grown diamond take around 6 to 10 weeks to be formed completely.

HPHT

As the name suggests, this method strives to create atmospheric conditions similar to those under the surface of the Earth that cause natural diamonds to form. Scientists decided to replicate those conditions inside a lab. A small diamond seed was places in pure carbon inside a sealed container. It is then exposed to extremely high temperature and pressure causing the carbon around the diamond to melt. It then fused with the seed to form a new, larger diamond. This diamond is then cooled down, cut, shaped and polished to get the diamond we see in the jewellery market today.

CVD

The CVD process also has a tightly sealed chamber, inside which a slice of a diamond seed is kept. It is exposed to high temperatures of 800°C. Then carbon-rich gases such as methane and hydrogen are released into the chamber. They help to break down the molecular composition of carbon and fuse it with the diamond seed to form a bigger diamond.

Are these real diamonds?

Although man-made and created in a laboratory as opposed to being formed naturally under the surface of the Earth, lab grown diamonds are absolutely, 100% real. They appearance and atomic structure is exactly the same as natural diamonds. It is almost impossible to distinguish between the two unless one is an expert gemmologist or a jeweller.

Are lab grown diamonds better?

They sure are better for the Earth. Natural diamonds take billions of years to form and are mined out of the Earth leading to soil erosion, loosening of the Earth’s surface and tampering with the natural underground composition. The planet definitely deserves better. Lab grown diamonds are created without any harm to the diamond. They are eco-friendly and inexhaustible. For these reasons many people do think of them as the better choice.

Due to ethical reasons and the comparatively lower price, lab grown diamonds are the rising trend all over the world, especially for engagement rings in London. They offer a chance at owning a precious stone without burning a hole in your pocket and giving something back to the planet as well.

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