Diamonds are the perfect accessory to have in jewelry. Whether you want a new diamond necklace, some stunning earrings, or an engagement ring, diamonds have been the first choice for many years. Finding natural diamonds can take a lot of work and the process is tough on the environment. That is why an alternative, known as lab-grown diamonds, have gained in popularity in the past few years.
So how are lab diamonds made? Lab diamonds are made through one of two methods; the HPHT method which relies on high levels of heat, or the CVD method which creates these diamonds using hydrocarbon gas. Both methods significantly speed up the diamond making process, lowering costs, and providing a high-quality diamond that rivals natural diamonds.
There are several steps that go into making a lab-grown diamond and the amount you will spend on one depends on the quality, color, and certification that comes with it. Let’s take some time to learn more about lab-grown diamonds and how to choose the right one.
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How Are Lab Diamonds Formed?
There are a few different processes used to form lab-grown diamonds depending on the quality and clarity, and sometimes the price, of the diamond you choose to purchase. Some of the different methods include:
Method 1: High Pressure-High Temperature Diamonds
The high pressure-high temperature method of creating diamonds in the lab is the oldest process available. It was designed during the 1950s to make the diamond industry more lucrative, though it is not as popular today as it has been in the past. These diamonds are often less expensive than natural earth-grown diamonds and when they are done with the process, they can provide a better coloring as well.
With the HPHT process, the diamonds are subjected to high levels of pressure and high temperatures, using special machines in the lab. The temperatures can get as high as 2600 degrees Celsius to imitate the heat that creates a natural diamond. As you can guess though, the exorbitant cost of the machinery and energy required to do this can provide a very desirable looking diamond.
Because the process of creating a diamond with this method was simple and fast, it grew in popularity as the only way to make lab diamonds for several years. And as consumers started to want the biggest and best diamond possible, the popularity of this method grew. It was now possible to create huge diamonds in a lab, keeping the price down in the process.
Method 2: Chemical Vapor Deposition Diamonds
Another option to use when creating a diamond in a lab is chemical vapor deposition. In this method, the diamond will be grown using a hydrocarbon gas mixture. This is a method that has been around since the 1980s, with intensive research throughout the world to learn how it works.
While the HPHT process can mass-produce high-quality diamonds, which makes it a more suitable choice, the CVD process is simple and flexible, which is why it has grown in popularity over the past few years. Other advantages of this method include the ability to grow the diamond in a larger area and on different types of substrates, and there is more control over the number of impurities that may make their way into the diamond.
Both the CVD and HPHT options are better for the environment when it comes to making diamonds. This will help protect the world while saving money, allowing the world to enjoy their love of diamonds without the cost or a lack of quality.
How long does it take to make a lab diamond?
Creating a diamond inside a lab is a process that will take a little time. Making a diamond will often take between six to twelve weeks depending on which process is used and the size of the diamond. When being made in a lab, the diamond seed is placed into an environment that contains carbons. While under these controlled conditions, the diamond can grow, layer by layer, in a process that speeds up the natural way diamonds are made.
Depending on how well this process goes, it is possible to get a diamond created in a short amount of time. Smaller diamonds can be done within six weeks under the right controlled environment, though some more complex and high-quality diamonds can take 12 weeks and even longer.
Are Lab Diamonds Different than Natural or “Real Diamonds?
Yes, lab diamonds are different from natural diamonds in how they are formed. Other than that, lab diamonds are real and are chemically identical to real diamonds. They provide a beautiful alternative that is less expensive than natural diamonds. Many of the options you can choose in lab diamonds will look similar to a natural diamond to the consumer.
The main difference is how they are created. Natural diamonds need millions of years under the surface of the earth in order to get done, when they are done, the diamonds are mined through some extensive methods along the way, which can harm the environment around them. See also What Diamonds Are Made Of?
On the other hand, lab diamonds are formed in a lab, using either the CVD or HPHT method we talked about above. This helps to create beautiful diamonds that look almost identical to natural diamonds, for a lower cost, in less time, and with less harm to the environment. This makes it a win-win for everyone involved.
How to Choose the Best Lab Diamonds?
The next thing to consider is how to choose the best lab-grown diamond for your ring, earring, or other jewelry. There are many different options on the market and since you can often find them for less money than traditional diamonds and they are better for the environment, it is a great choice to work with.
Some of the things to consider when choosing lab diamond are:
HPHT Diamonds vs. CVD Diamonds
Both of these processes are amazing for making lab-grown diamonds that look just like natural diamonds. The HPHT process was popular for a long time because it was one of the first methods of making these diamonds available. However, it does take a good deal of energy and machinery to make them and it has fallen out of style a bit. The CVD process is easier and faster, providing beautiful diamonds as well.
You can choose either one when it comes to your lab-grown diamond. You will be impressed by how great they look, though most of the options you will choose from relying on the CVD method because it is the most widely used.
Price of Lab Diamonds
The price of these lab-grown diamonds will depend on several different factors. The company you purchase the lab-grown diamond from will make a difference as well. There are some affordable options that you can go with when trying to find a stunning diamonds that looks amazing without the hefty price tag.
For example, James Allen provides some amazing lab-grown diamonds that have a D coloring, meaning it is clear, and a VS1 to VS2 clarity grade, meaning they have no imperfections that you can see with the naked eye.
Even while meeting these higher standards, James Allen can provide these rings for under $650 for a .50 carat diamond depending on the cut you want, with some more complex cuts costing about $50 more. Of course, the price goes up with the size of the diamond too, but it is possible to get a 1.00 Carat D VS2 diamond from James Allen for just over $2,000, which is much more affordable than some similar options made out of natural diamonds.
Now take a look at a 1.00 Carat D VS2 Earth-grown diamond, the same grading is over double the price at 5,600!
Are Lab Diamonds Certified?
Keep in mind that while the certification is not going to change the price of the diamond, it will help you know what you are paying for. There are a several certifications that you can choose to do some research to make sure you understand the reputation of each certification company before you begin.
A good option is IGI. They offer extensive and reliable grading for these types of diamonds. What this means is that when you see the IGI certification on the diamond you are getting exactly the type of diamond that the seller tells you.
Are all Lab Made Diamonds D Color Grade?
Lab diamonds come in a variety of color grades, not just D. When you look at lab-grown diamonds, you will see that they are graded on a scale that is D to Z. If the diamond is a D, it means that the diamond is colorless. But if the diamond is a Z, this means that there is a noticeable amount of brown or yellow tint to it.
The closer you get to the D, the more expensive the diamond will be. However, if you want something that is a little more budget-friendly, something in the G to J range can save you money without changing the quality of the color that much.
The closer to white in color that these diamonds are, the more expensive they can be. The D, E, and F grades are going to be colorless and clear. They are often the ones most likely to be confused with natural diamonds by the naked eye. So going a few color grades down can still give you a good color without all of the price.
What’s the best clarity rating for lab diamonds?
When we open up a discussion about diamond clarity, we are going to look at how clean this is of inclusions and blemishes. Diamonds that do not have inclusions will be more expensive compared to those that have imperfections that you notice. The lab diamonds with the best clarity rating will be the VVS and FL options, as they have no imperfections but they are also the most expensive out of all of them.
There are other options that work out nicely though. For example, choosing an VS1 or VS2 diamond is a great option. This will cost a lot less than the other options while still appearing to be perfect without any issues.
Lab-grown diamonds are beautiful and provide more customization than you can get with a traditional diamond. Because of the high price of most natural diamonds and the fact that it was so bad on the environment to get ahold of a diamond, these lab-based diamonds started to grow in popularity.
Consider choosing one of these options the next time you go diamond shopping and use this handy guide to make it easier to find the right one.