Buying Lab Diamonds Online
Let’s have a good look at these new kids on the block?
Open Cut Diamond Mine
Alrossa – Russia
As climate change impacts our everyday life, many of you may prefer to know that you are helping the environment when buying a Diamond . Along with a 100% guarantee that your Diamond is ‘Conflict Free?’. Many still have concerns that even our natural Diamonds are not 100% guaranteed from conflict.
So lets bring Lab Created Diamonds. Lab Grown Diamonds are exactly that, CREATED in a lab! Not dug out of massive holes in the Earth and under terms of war and corruption. Whilst these laboratory-grown eco diamonds are relatively new to the consumer, they are picking up pace with social engagement and a desire to have one. Lab Grown Diamonds are sustainably cultured/grown by two different methods HPHT & CVD, I’ll discuss that later, thus recreating the extreme pressures and temperatures required to convert carbon into a diamond crystal structure found in nature.
Lab Grown Diamonds have the same exact same crystal structure, chemical composition, optical properties and physical properties as a mined type II diamonds. Lab Diamonds are not fake, they are not stimulants like Moissanite or Cubic Zirconia’s, or cheap substitutes. Whilst we mainly trust that our mined Diamond suppliers are giving us conflict free diamonds as they advocate, but if you are unsure about the diamond mining industry, yet still want a beautiful diamond then a Lab grown might be just the thing, especially considering the cheaper price tag.
HPHT Synthetic Diamond
CVD Synthetic Diamond
Lab Created Diamonds, or Colourless synthetic diamonds are currently being produced by HPHT (High Pressure – High Temperature) and CVD (Chemical Vapor Deposition) have come on strong in the last few years and it appears they are here to stay.. They do have a place in the Diamond Market even though these stones are technically different from the natural diamonds produced by prehistoric geologic conditions and tremendous forces.
HPHT Diamonds have been around for a far longer period and started off in the Diamond Color changing arena. CVD diamonds made a slow start but have now begun to win the Synthetic Diamond race. CVD created diamonds are formed by adding a gas, such as methane, into a vacuum chamber, then activating and breaking down the molecules of the gas with concentrated microwaves. Thus causing the atoms of Carbon to attach themselves to the substrate (a diamond seed crystal, which has been usually formed by the HPHT method). However www.ogisystems.com are able to laser cut wafer thin slices of CVD Diamonds that can be used as seeds.
So which one is better?
Well both methods are producing the same thing aren’t they? not quite is the answer..
HPHT: This process is very very costly, since these synthetic Diamonds require a vast amount of energy, combining both intense heat and pressure in specialized equipment that will handle this type of Heat and Pressure. Initially they were only producing mainly colored stones with this method but in recent years HPHT is often one that tends to produce the colorless D,E,F range and higher clarities from VS and up to Flawless.
- More Eco-Friendly than mined Diamonds
- 100% Conflict Free
- HPHT can produce colourless Diamonds
- HPHT can produce Excellent Clarities
- HPHT Synthetic Diamonds are more costly to produce so you may pay a slight premium.
- the may not be as Eco-Friendly as everyone thinks, especially the amount of Energy that is required to create one.
- Retention of Overall Value
CVD: This process is cheaper and involves a completely different technique to create their diamonds. CVD also requires far lower temperatures and pressures to in order produce relatively clean gem quality Synthetic Diamonds. And of course the equipment required only needs to operate at moderate temperatures and lower pressures. CVD can also produce D,E,F colorless Synthetic Diamonds but it appears that the most common colour range is from G – J and clarities around VS – SI. CVD is also the better option for producing Fancy Coloured Synthetic Diamonds. Adding different gases such as nitrogen or boron into the high pressure chamber, Blue and yellow Synthetic Diamonds are produced.
- More Eco-Friendly than mined Diamonds and HPHT Diamonds
- 100% Conflict Free
- CVD can produce colourless Diamonds
- CVD can produce Excellent Clarities
- Overall the Color and Clarity of these Synthetic Diamonds tend to be lower than HPHT, but i’m sure this will improve.
- Retention of overall Value
My verdict: In my professional opinion, I don’t have a preference for either method of production, i’m interested, like most of us, in the final product. Besides, as technology advances these variences of quality will improve.
On that final note lets have a look at two of the leaders in Online Lab Created Diamonds, “Clean Origin Diamonds” Third generation Jewellers taking a leap of faith into the new world of Synthetic Lab Created Diamonds, and James Allen.com, who needs little introduction about their reputation. From the moment one loads Clean Origin’s webpage it’s clear what they offer, Engagement Rings, Wedding Rings, Bridal Jewellery including Earrings and Bracelets incorporating their Lab Grown/Created Diamonds.
Clean Origin are one of the first that i’ve seen to start introducing hand selected Lab Created Diamonds with ‘Hearts & Arrows’ Symmetry, their “RADIENCE” Collection. Sure, there are plenty of online Diamond Dealers that show this already but Lab Created Diamond websites don’t have this. I must admit it’s not quite as good as James Allen Diamonds with full disclosure of images in their “True Hearts” Natural Diamond range, but we are talking about Lab created Diamonds at a far cheaper price point. It takes time to take all the ASET Tool and Ideal Scope images then upload them all to the web. Time equals Money. So good on “Clean Origin” for making it better for consumers.
Lab Grown Diamonds -FAQ
Most frequently asked questions and answers
Yes, as you can see above, they are considerably cheaper. You can expect to pay around half the price for a White Diamond equivalent, a third of the price for a Yellow and less than a tenth for a Pink or Blue naturally formed Diamond. Get in touch – “Find My Diamond”
Lab Grown Diamonds are equivalent in strength to mined diamonds because they are Diamonds, and so are the hardest material on Earth. Diamonds are approximately 10 times harder than Sapphire and 100 times harder than Cubic Zirconia.
While the process to grow diamonds is different to the way a natural diamond is formed they are cut just like a Natural Diamond, and so they come in all available shapes.
Lab Grown Diamonds are graded on the exact same criteria as mined diamonds, The Four C’s, ie Cut, Colour, Clarity, Carat. These diamonds are also graded by the top Gemological laboratories that grade Earth-extracted diamonds-
Most Lab Grown Diamonds are certified by International Gemological Institute (IGI) either in the USA or Antwerp and I see some filtering through from the GIA. Most Lab Grown Diamonds are also laser inscribed giving you peace of mind that it is an fact a lab Grown, Conflict-Free Diamond.
The short answer is NO, Lab Grown Diamonds have identical Carbon properties as naturally formed diamonds, even the latest diamond testing probe testers will of course verify that it is in fact a diamond. Only extensive testing from a Gemmological testing lab will determine their true origin. But there are more and more Diamond Origin testing machines that are becoming more affordable for the bigger Jewellery Manufactures.
The process to develop precious diamonds in a laboratory is fundamentally the same as the geographical development process of Natural Diamonds only alot faster. Similar to Natural Diamonds Lab Grown Diamonds exhibit flaws and colour variations within the gemstones and are certified in the same way.
There are 2 processes to grow them – HPHT (High Pressure High Temperature) which typically outputs a colour range of D,E,F/Fl,VVS,VS in clarity
and CVD (Chemical Vapor Deposition) which typically outputs colours G,H,I & down/VS-SI clarity – rarely F colour. But even saying that technology is improving at a rapid rate.
Are they going to flood the market?
At any one time there are up to 20 million carats of diamonds being dug up, cut, and polished every year, with billions of carats more in existing mines. One current major natural diamond company estimates its current diamond reserves at 479.7 million carats. To build production facilities of Lab Grown Diamonds big enough to produce 1% of the current mined stocks would mllions and millions of dollars build these Labs. If indeed some companies do start large scale production, It will take many years before lab diamonds affected the market.
This misconception hinges on three incorrect assumptions:
- Diamonds are an extremely rare gemstone and always will be. Especially Coloured or White Diamonds with High colour and Clarity.
- There will be more Lab Diamonds grown and saturate the market reducing the rarity of diamonds (see previous Q&A)
- It is cheaper to grow diamonds than it is to mine them, so Natural Diamonds will always hold a price premium
It is important to note the vast distinction between lab grown diamonds and diamond simulants. Lab grown diamonds are man-made diamonds that consist of actual carbon atoms arranged in the characteristic diamond crystal structure an Octahedron. Diamond look-alike simulants, such as Cubic Zirconia and Moissanite, are not true carbon crystals. The costs associated with Simulants is considerably less and they do not have the same chemical and physical properties as diamonds. These simulants also have a lower hardness and make them prone to scratching and more importantly, they will not have the ‘Sparkle’ that a Diamond has.