HOW LAB-GROWN
DIAMONDS ARE MADE

THE SCIENCE BEHIND LAB-GROWN DIAMONDS

Labs use cutting-edge technology to replicate the natural diamond-making process. The end result is a chemically, physically and optically identical lab diamond

Carbon is subjected to high temperatures and high pressure in a controlled environment, resulting in a diamond.

Diamonds pulled from the earth are thought to have been formed 1 to 3 billion years ago. However, scientists believe that they were formed from carbon dioxide being exposed to extreme temperatures (over 1000° C) and extreme pressure (about 5000 MPa). These conditions are found approximately 145 kilometers below the Earth’s surface. Once formed, these diamonds were moved from the Earth’s core to its crust by volcanic explosions.

HPHT

When the HPHT method is used, a small diamond seed is placed into a piece of carbon. Then, using either a belt press, cubic press or a split-sphere (BARS) press, the carbon is pressurized to approximately 10 000 MPa. Additionally, the carbon is also exposed to temperatures over 1500° Celsius. This pressure and heat begin to melt the carbon, forming a diamond around the initial diamond seed. The newly formed diamond is then carefully cooled.

CVD

Like HPHT, CVD uses a small diamond seed (often an HPHT diamond). This seed is placed inside a sealed chamber that is heated to over 760° Celsius and filled with carbon-rich gases (typically methane and hydrogen). These gases are then ionized into plasma using a technology similar to lasers or microwaves. This technology essentially breaks down the molecular bond of the gas. Once the molecular bond is broken down, pure carbon begins to stick to the seed and a new diamond forms. Additional treatments may be used (heat or irradiation) to enhance or change the diamond’s color after it is grown.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GROW A LAB-GROWN DIAMOND?

Unlike the billions of years it takes to create mined diamonds, lab-grown diamonds typically take less than a month to grow. White diamonds take the longest time to develop as it can take 2+ weeks to grow a 1-carat diamond. On the other hand, yellow and blue diamonds take 5-10 days. It is important that the growing process is not rushed or else the crystal will fracture.

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