lab grown diamond ring on top of grading paper

An In-Depth Look at Lab Grown Diamonds

Posted by Grogan Jewelers By Lon on Dec 8, 2022 4:56:39 PM

In diamonds

Shopping for an engagement ring is a highly emotional experience. It’s overwhelming. It’s exciting. Not only is there the agonizing anticipation of popping the big question, but also the exhilaration a man feels with the idea of spending his life with the girl of his dreams. Shopping for the perfect ring can bring all of these emotions to the surface.

With literally thousands of different rings to choose from, which one do you pick? What color band? Which type of stone? What size? And now, because of recent technological advances, there is a new question to ask. If I’m selecting a diamond ring, do I want a natural diamond or a lab-grown diamond?

What is a Lab Grown Diamond?

A lab-grown diamond is just what it sounds like–a diamond that is grown in a lab. It is not a fake diamond, or diamond simulant, as many may assume. Diamond simulants look similar to diamonds, but are not true and pure carbon crystals. They do not have the same physical or chemical makeup as a mined diamond, so they are not considered real. Alternatively, lab-grown diamonds are identical to natural, mined diamonds both in their chemical makeup as well as their visual appearance. Using state-of-the-art technology, jewelers are able to mimic the diamond-forming process to grow their own diamonds in a lab.

How are Lab Grown Diamonds Made?

Mined, or natural, diamonds come from the earth’s surface. While it isn’t known exactly how diamonds came to be, there are very logical and widely accepted theories. Essentially, between one and three billion years ago, carbon dioxide was trapped about one hundred miles below the earth’s surface. That carbon dioxide then came in contact with heat up to 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit and, because of the depth in the earth with the heat, came under pressure of almost 730,000 pounds per square inch. This extreme heat and pressure formed the diamonds. Then, volcanic eruptions expelled the diamonds from deep within the earth’s core. Now, diamonds sit closer to the surface and can be mined.

Lab-grown diamonds are grown mimicking this process. Without getting too scientific, two different methods are used to grow diamonds. No matter which process you use, the result is a high-quality diamond.

High Pressure-High Temperature (HPHT)

High pressure-high temperature (HPHT) is the first method used to grow diamonds in a lab. In short, they are grown using very high pressure and very high temperatures, just like natural diamonds.

The HPHT diamond begins with a thin sliver of an already existing diamond, called the diamond seed. The diamond seed is placed into carbon. Then, using either a belt press, a split-sphere press, or a cubic press, the seed is cooked in heat up to 1,500 degrees Celsius, or about 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit. Simultaneously, 1.5 million pounds of pressure is applied to the diamond. Upon the pressure and heat, the carbon will melt around the diamond seed, forming a larger diamond. It is meticulously cooled to form a pure carbon diamond.

Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD)

The other way to make a lab-grown diamond is using the Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) method. It starts in the same way as the HPHT process, with a diamond seed. The seed is sealed in a chamber that is heated up to 800 degrees Celsius, or about 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit. When the seed reaches the necessary temperature, hydrogen and methane gasses, and other carbon-rich gasses are emitted into the chamber. With technology similar to a microwave, the gasses are ionized, breaking the molecular bonds in the gasses. The diamond is formed one layer at a time as energy breaks the chemical bonds.

The CVD process is newer and has become more favorable than the HPHT because it is made at a lower temperature and because chemically, it is purer. However, the drawback is that a diamond over 3.2 carats cannot be made using the CVD method. No matter which method is used, a high-quality diamond will be produced.

Why Buy Lab-Grown Diamonds?

There are some major benefits to purchasing a lab-grown diamond, rather than a mined diamond. To start, they are visually, physically, and chemically identical to a mined diamond, so even a trained jeweler may not be able to tell the difference. Here are some reasons to buy a lab-grown diamond.

Ethically Made

Many people’s minds will jump to the movie Blood Diamond when they hear about ethical diamond mining. While steps have been taken to create safer and more ethical practices around diamond mining, one can never be sure that their own diamond came from an ethical source. That is–unless they purchase a lab-grown diamond.

Going further, lab-grown diamonds are sustainable. The growing process is environmentally friendly, so it reduces the pollutants emitted from mining. For every diamond carat that is mined, 6,000 pounds of mineral waste is created and 100 square feet of land is disturbed. Lab-grown diamonds eliminate any question of ethical mining and environmental harm, leaving the purchaser and the wearer guilt-free.

Higher Quality

Because lab-grown diamonds are created in a controlled environment and are monitored throughout the process, the diamonds often come out better. They can be more beautiful and pure than a mined diamond. Along the same lines, because humans are controlling each step, there will be fewer defects and impurities than in a naturally mined diamond.

Similarly, lab-grown diamonds are incredibly durable. Because they are made up of the same material as a mined diamond, they are just as difficult to chip. Lab-grown diamonds rank a perfect 10 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, just like mined diamonds. This scale ranks hardness and resistance to scratching. As a comparison, a penny registers at 3.5, and a steel nail lands at 6.5 on the Mohs Hardness Scale.

More Affordable

A major advantage of a lab-grown diamond is the cost. Mined diamonds are expensive because of their rarity. They are a natural occurrence in nature, so it’s logical to assume that there are not an infinite number of diamonds in the world. Further, there is an abundance of labor and energy that goes into mining, polishing, and shipping the diamonds. A lab-grown diamond will sell for approximately half of what a mined diamond would go for. With a lab-grown diamond, you will not have to compromise on the size or the quality of the diamond that you can afford. You can get your fiance the large diamond she deserves without breaking your budget.

Buying a lab-grown diamond is a good option, even if you are eventually wanting your ring to become a family heirloom. Diamonds are very stable in price, as there is hardly any fluctuation in their worth. Unlike homes that increase in value over time, or cars that depreciate quickly, a diamond’s worth will not change much. A diamond is not a good wealth-building investment. With that in mind, the idea of purchasing a less expensive lab-grown diamond becomes more attractive. You can get a larger diamond for less money, and you are not compromising its long-term value.

How are Lab Grown Diamonds Graded?

There is no difference in the certification and grading process between a mined diamond and a lab-grown diamond. Once a diamond is finished, it is sent to a third-party gem lab to be graded. The expert looks at the 4 C’s: color, cut, clarity, and carat.

Color, Cut, Clarity, and Carat

The color of the diamond refers to how colorless the diamond is. The less color in the diamond, the higher the grade. A diamond graded between D and F is purely colorless. They are exceedingly expensive and incredibly rare. Most diamonds that couples select for an engagement ring fall between G and J, which are near colorless.

When examining the cut of the diamond, experts are looking for proportion and dimension, which creates the brilliance and balance of the stone. Generally, the cut is considered the most important aspect of the diamond.

To grade the clarity of the diamond, experts examine its appearance. They are looking for any imperfections or cracks that exist. Usually, these imperfections cannot be seen by the naked eye, so they are not referred to as “flaws,” but as “internal characteristics” or “internal inclusions.

The carat of the diamond measures its size and weight. The carat determines how large the diamond is, and it is an objective measurement.

Where Can I Buy a Lab-Grown Diamond?

If your mind's made up and you think a lab-grown diamond is the right option for you, reach out to Grogan Jewelers. Grogan Jewelers has a wide variety of options, including lab-grown diamonds. You can determine what type of diamond you would like to be grown for your one-of-a-kind ring. If you want to take that route, Grogan will work with you to customize every aspect of your engagement ring. Or, you can shop their inventory and find a ring that is already built with a lab-grown diamond. No matter what you have in mind, Grogan will have the perfect option for you. Reach out to Grogan Jewelers today!