Lab created diamonds are taking the jewellery industry by storm. Similar to when laboratory grown emeralds first hit the market back in the 90s, lab created diamonds have proven immensely popular with lab grown diamonds Auckland jewellers.
Though natural diamonds form over millions of year’s underground, lab diamonds can be created quickly in just weeks using modern techniques. So how is that even possible?
High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT)
Diamonds form naturally underground under extreme heat and pressure. This process is replicated in laboratories to produce gem-quality diamonds for sale – either colourless or with other hues such as blue, pink, yellow and green hues.
Seed crystals, small lab grown diamonds Sydney fragments that have not formed fully yet, and pure carbon material (e.g. graphite or coke), as well as metal catalysts are combined in a cell and put through an intense pressure cycle in an enclosed cell to replicate conditions found when diamonds form naturally in Earth’s crust. This press then presses its contents through belt, cubic or split-sphere press systems into an Earth-replicating press system at high-pressure and temperature conditions similar to what occurs during diamond formation.
Microwaves and lasers are used to ionize gasses within a chamber, which then combine with diamond seed material and form the diamond – layer by layer – before being cooled down, polished, graded for cut, clarity, and carat exactly like an extracted diamond would.
Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD)
Diamonds have long been recognized for their ability to add elegance and sophistication, but they represent more than that: They’re a sign of love and nailfits commitment that are frequently chosen for engagement rings or wedding bands.
Natural diamonds form deep beneath the Earth’s surface over millions of years; synthetic or lab grown diamonds can be produced rapidly in just days or weeks in laboratories. These gem-quality synthetic diamonds are chemically, physically, and optically identical to their mined counterparts and will pass any diamond tester with flying colours.
HPHT and CVD are two primary techniques used to produce lab grown diamonds, both delivering gem-quality results that can produce beautiful gems. Gemmologists can often detect tell-tale signs that differentiate a natural from synthetic diamonds – let’s take a closer look at each method’s workings below! Starting with an insignificant piece of seed crystal placed in a capsule with carbon starting material (usually graphite) and metal catalyst, then starting the process begins in earnest.
Scientists don’t fully understand how diamonds form underground, but they know they require extreme pressure and temperatures. By simulating those conditions in a laboratory setting they can produce man made diamonds quickly and inexpensively.
Under this technique, lab technicians begin with a rough diamond fragment that they place inside of a chamber filled with carbon-rich gases like methane and factsmaniya hydrogen, then use microwave or laser technology to ionize these gasses to break apart their molecular bonds and cause their pure carbon content to attach itself to the diamond seed layer by layer.
After this initial stage, lab technicians then subject the diamond to immense pressure and heat in order to help it expand even more rapidly. As it grows, lab technicians carefully monitor temperature and pressure levels so as to create the ideal diamond within six to eight weeks; producing natural-looking gem quality stones as their end product.
The diamond industry is flourishing, and lab grown diamonds (lab created, cultured, synthetic or similar terms) have made waves in the market as sustainable alternatives to traditionally mined diamonds which have been linked with human rights violations and funding for violent conflict.
Lab diamonds may differ from natural ones in terms of the 4 Cs; however, crystallized carbon is considered diamond regardless of its source. That being said, different diamonds possess specific traits that help identify them; fluorescence and inclusions are among these features that help identify their source.
GE invented a belt press to produce laboratory diamonds; this invention produces pressures exceeding 1.5 million pounds per square inch at temperatures greater than 2,000 degrees Celsius. Nowadays, two methods for creating laboratory diamonds are most frequently employed: HPHT and Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD). With HPHT, an individual crystal diamond seed is placed into a growth chamber where pressure and temperatures are applied; with CVD using hydrocarbon gas mixture ionized into plasma through microwaves or lasers so pure carbon forms around its seed crystal step by step.