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What are Synthetic Diamonds?

By Tony on 4/11/2016

Synthetic lab created diamond

What are Lab Created Diamonds?

Lab created diamonds are the subject of lots of discussion right now in the jewelry industry. These lab diamonds, also known as 'cultured diamonds', are just what they say they are. These are diamonds that are produced in an unnatural way. They are produced in labs that emulate the conditions in which natural diamonds are created. This is accomplished by multiple processes to create these synthetic diamonds.

These diamonds are chemically identical to natural diamonds (carbon). These diamonds are not diamond simulants, such as cubic zirconia or moissanite, they consist of actual carbon atoms making them diamonds. While they are an alternative to natural diamonds, they are becoming harder and harder to identify and understand. However, GIA is in the fore-front of identifying and testing synthetic stones for a 'no confusion' marketplace. Though we have never sold one, we are very interested in the methods and want to give a bit more background on the stones.

Methods of creating Man-Made Diamonds

Most synthetic diamonds are typically created one of two ways. Either by a high-pressure, high-temperature process (HPHT) or a chemical vapor deposition (CVD).In both ways these diamonds are near identical to natural diamonds. It is very hard for anyone to tell by the naked eye the differences, it takes an expert trained gem grader with the proper lab and tools to identify them.

HPHT

High-pressure, high-temperature diamonds are is the name given to diamonds created under pressure of 5 GPa at more than 1500 degrees Celsius. Though this is not new to diamonds, the process has been used on diamonds to treat them in the past. It has been used to add or subtract colors or enhance the diamond as a whole. Typically this process is started with cheaper less desirable stones, known as a seed. These less lucrative stones start the process to create the HPHT diamonds.

CVD

This process of Chemical Vapor Deposition, is another way to form synthetic diamonds. This method is a crystal formation process, using carbon plasma where the carbon atoms start to form. These deposits start to form the diamond. Along with the plasma, various gases are released into the chamber to create the right environment of the process.

How to tell if your Diamond is Synthetic or Natural

With the prevalence of the artificial diamonds in the market more and more a lot of questions that get posed are: How can you tell if your diamond is natural or lab grown? Simply the best ways are to either send them off to GIA to get certified, or to check the laser inscription on the diamond itself.

GIA tests every diamond to see if it is natural. If the diamond is lab grown, then it will come with a Synthetic Diamond Grading Report. In the same report it identifies your diamond and the ratings of cut, color, clarity, and carat. This report is much different compared to the standard diamond certification.

As well, GIA will laser inscribe the diamonds on their girdle with the report number and a note that the diamond is lab grown. If you are curious about your diamonds, your local jeweler should be able to help you find this inscription on the diamond. The microscopes, though not at GIA-level, can see these inscriptions to verify what your certifications have.

Benefits to Lab Created Diamonds

The benefits to having a lab grown diamond are not hard to realize. The synthetic diamonds are very similar to the natural counterparts. So for all the positives you find with most diamonds, you can find in these synthetic diamonds. The only major benefit is that these diamonds are a little more affordable for your budget.

Price & Value

The synthetic diamonds do not inherently offer better clarity, color, or cuts. These diamonds big benefit is their value. Being more affordable because they are created and not mined is the basic benefit. The costs of mining along with the rarity, creates the high value of these stones. Taking the cost of mining and rarity out creates a slightly lower price. (Around 10-20% less for the same mined stone).

Negatives

The major negatives for synthetic diamonds are that they start from a lesser diamonds and the inclusions and clarity can become a negative factor. As well the diamond and carat sizes offered are capped - so if you want a bigger diamond, you are out of luck. The other issue is of how unromantic a lab grown diamond really is. Natural diamonds are created over millions of years, synths - a couple of days.

Where can you find Synthetic Diamond?

Have we sparked your interest? Because ours was! Synthetic diamonds represent a very small part of the diamond market currently, but we have seen the prominence of these diamonds more and more. As well, these stones are becoming more and more difficult to detect. We advise a word of caution before buying an artificial stone, get a certification with it.

As we researched and wrote about this topic, we wanted to investigate it one on one. So we have ordered one to do some deeper digging into the stone! If you are looking to see one of these stones in person or want to compare it to the natural diamonds we have in inventory, then come see us at Distinctive Gold Jewelry in Frankfort, IL.

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