Lab-grown diamonds, also commonly known as lab-created diamonds, manufactured diamonds, and man-made diamonds, are real diamonds, with the same chemical composition and optical properties as mined diamonds. In terms of quality, they are exactly equal.
The best lab-grown diamond jewelry offers a valuable and comforting alternative to mined diamonds for many people conscious of their impact on the world, and looking for a better carat-to-dollar ratio for this significant investment.
As of 2018, the FTC, following scientific consensus, considers both mined and lab-grown diamonds to be real diamonds. The best lab-grown diamonds can be produced in a range of colors, just like natural diamonds, but they are nearly indistinguishable from natural diamonds.
Chemically, optically and physically identical to natural diamonds, lab-grown diamonds cannot be distinguished by the naked eye. Even expert gemologists require specialized equipment to tell the difference between a polished lab-grown diamond and a polished mined diamond.
They share with mined diamonds a diversity of clarity grades and colors, and can be cut to equally exacting levels of precision. This is what makes lab-grown diamonds in jewelry so valuable. The best lab-grown diamonds in jewelry offer the same properties as a mined diamond but without the hefty price tag or ethical and environmental concerns.
Grown in conditions designed to replicate those under which natural diamonds form, they are cut and polished just as mined diamonds, to optimize their striking and glimmering fire, brilliance and scintillation.
As a result of several factors, and despite being rarer than mined diamonds, are often considerably more affordable.
Whether it is manufactured with cutting edge technology or mined from the ground, a diamond is a crystal made out of pure carbon: a unique lattice-work of interconnected tetrahedral arrangements of carbon atoms.
This atomic arrangement is possible because carbon atoms can have four covalent bonds. A covalent bond is a chemical bond that occurs between two nonmetal atoms where they share a pair of electrons.
Carbon atoms are capable of having four covalent bonds, and thus share four pairs of electrons. When this happens the atoms achieve a state of relative stability. The atomic structure of a mined diamond or the best lab-grown diamonds in jewelry are the same.
Hardness and Density: The bonds between carbon atoms formed in tetrahedral arrangements create one of the strongest atomic structures. It causes all diamonds, both natural and lab-grown diamonds, to have a relatively high density at 3.51 gm/cm3 compared to 2.26 gm/cm3 for graphite, another crystalline form of carbon. Their density is the reason water (with a density of 1.0 gm/cm3) does not cling to the surface of a diamond.
This structure causes diamonds to be the hardest substance known to exist, at a rating of 10 on the Mohs hardness scale. As a result, a diamond can only be scratched or cut by another diamond.
One very unique property of a diamond’s atomic structure is that it allows light to pass through completely, though that structure also slows and bends the light, what is called refraction. A diamond has a refractive index of 2.417, which is how much slower the speed of light is as it travels through a diamond than its speed as it travels through air. Their structure separates visible light wavelengths because it takes more time for certain colors of light to pass through than others.
This is why higher end natural and the best lab-grown diamonds in jewelry are clear crystals that refract and reflect light like prisms, creating a diamond's fire—their ability to present colored light waves separately. By cutting a diamond just right, light will bounce off certain surfaces and be bent back through, making it appear as though more light is shining out from the top. The importance of cut is discussed at length further down.
Diamonds are produced all over the world by many countries. Most diamonds are mined from the ground, though today about 10% are grown in laboratories.
Ubiquitous today in fine jewelry, diamonds are a recent addition to the standard fare of glamor. Discovered in India more than 2500 years ago, they were only available from India until the 17th century and were always extremely rare until the 19th century. Many attempts over millennia were made to produce diamonds without mining them. All failed until recently.
During the Portuguese conquest, exploration for more deposits found diamonds in Brazil. Then, in the second half of the 19th century, diamond deposits discovered in South Africa dwarfed any previously recorded, and further discoveries of diamond deposits around the world flooded the market, making them widely available for the first time. Today more diamonds (recently as much as 28,000 tons) are mined than gold (recently 2500 to 3000 tons).
While the desire to make the best lab-grown diamonds, at one's leisure, and to one’s reliable and repeatable benefit has captured the imagination of alchemists, scientists, writers and poets for millennia, only in the last century have they become a reality. In the 1950s, researchers from GE were finally able to grow these pure carbon crystals in their laboratories. Today gem-quality and industrial diamond crystals are grown in labs across the globe.
In the earth, diamonds form when carbon undergoes extreme heat and pressure. This happens often at the border between the earth’s crust and its upper mantle. Depending on the conditions it may take many millions of years or as little as a few weeks or even hours for diamonds to form naturally. Under the same strain, many are also destroyed.
From the depths of this dark and violent birth some diamonds were lifted up to the earth's surface millions and billions of years ago, in near-apocalyptic volcanic eruptions that dwarfed most of those that have occurred in the 200,000 odd years since modern humans appeared.
These cataclysmic events brought up diamonds that formed deep inside the earth, and buried them close to the surface trapped in volcanic detritus. The detritus is known as kimberlite and lamproite, and it filled the “pipes,” which are the holes punched upwards in the earth's surface by these particular types of volcanic eruptions.
Today we mine diamond-bearing kimberlite and lamproite pipes, and alluvial (river) deposits washed down from the pipes, in countries all over the world. The largest and most diamondiferous regions are located in Africa, North America, Siberia and Australia.
Diamonds are mined for their beauty and use in jewelry, as well as for their durability, hardness and other chemical and optical properties that make them well-suited for industrial and technological applications. Only about 30% of diamonds mined worldwide are considered beautiful enough to be gem-quality.
Laboratory-made diamonds are produced for jewelry and fashion, and industrial and technological uses. Because of the reliability and control we have over the growing process, most of the best lab-grown diamonds are grown purposefully for their intended application, unlike mined diamonds where chance rules what is uncovered, and how much.
A lab created diamond is made using processes that replicate ways diamonds are created in nature, or at least are believed to form. The two most common methods are HPHT and CVD.
HPHT stands for High Pressure, High Temperature, and refers to one common method for lab-grown diamond production.
It was the first method created for lab-grown diamond production and is based on the natural forces that produce diamonds within the earth.
In the HPHT process, extreme pressure and immense heat are focused onto a piece of raw carbon inside a cubic presIn the HPHT process, extreme pressure and immense heat are focused onto a piece of raw carbon inside a cubic press. Inside this raw carbon, which can be graphite, a seed diamond has been placed. The seed may be from a mined diamond, or from a previously grown lab diamond. om a previously grown lab diamond.
Over several weeks the pressure and heat force the atoms in the raw carbon to separate and rebond, crystallizing on the seed diamond and continuing its tetrahedral structure of atoms, forming a new diamond crystal.
CVD stands for Chemical Vapor Deposition and refers to another common method of lab-grown diamond production.
In CVD production, a diamond seed (either from a mined diamond or a lab diamond) is placed in a vacuum chamber where carbon-rich gas (such as methane or carbon dioxide) is bombarded with microwaves. As the bonds holding the carbon atoms together in the gas are broken, they fall like snow onto the diamond seed and crystallize, continuing its tetrahedral atomic structure.
Once the diamond has grown inside an HPHT cubic press or CVD growing chamber, it is processed almost exactly the same as a natural diamond. It is cut and polished into a shape that will optimize its optical properties, and then sold to a wholesaler and later a retailer. Finally, a jeweler places it in an engagement ring or other fine jewelry.
The best lab-grown diamonds are real diamonds with the same physical, chemical and optical properties as natural diamonds. When polished and cut, they are impossible to distinguish from mined diamonds with the naked eye.
The best lab-grown diamonds differ from mined diamonds in two main ways: their origin and their price. In addition, the absence or presence of certain extraneous minerals or defects in them, differing from those found in natural diamonds, enables laboratories equipped with the right technology to distinguish between them.
Without the specialized equipment of a gemological institute, it is impossible to distinguish between lab-grown stones and mined stones.
All of the stones available at Michael Gabriels come with a report from the gemological institute that certified them.
Lab-grown diamonds are real diamonds, but there are several simulants on the market that can be easily misidentified as diamonds. The most common are moissanite and cubic zirconia, both of which are commonly used as diamond alternatives.
A crystalline form of Silicone Carbide, originally synthesized in 1893 by Henri Moissan, it has been rarely found in nature, and only until recently was its synthesis cost effective enough to produce gem quality jewels. It is the second hardest substance in the world after diamonds, and is higher on the refractive index.
The crystalline form of zirconium dioxide, it is denser than a diamond, not as hard, and has a similarly high refractivity. The most common substitute for diamonds.
White sapphires are, as implied, sapphires that are white or colorless. They come from the corundum family of minerals that include ruby, which is all red corundum, and sapphire, which is all other colors. White sapphires are 9 on the Mohs scale of hardness, the third most hard after moissanite and diamonds, but do not have the same level of optical properties or equal the scintillation, brilliance and dispersion of a real diamond.
Quartz, also known as rock crystal, is a translucent mineral found all over the world that has been used for jewelry for many thousands of years. Some quartz crystals mimic diamonds so well that they are even referred to with diamond in the name. Herkimer Diamonds and Cape May diamonds, both of which are quartz crystals, are among the most prized for diamond simulants since they naturally form in shapes resembling diamonds and have exceptional clarity.
The best lab-grown diamond jewelry are conflict-free, and are made without child or forced labor. They do not contribute to the global supply of blood diamonds and conflict stones that go on the market despite the Kimberley process.
Lab-created diamonds, on the whole, have a slightly lesser environmental impact than mined diamonds, though very few can reliably claim to have zero emissions.
The most valuable way in which they are environmentally friendly is that laboratories displace a fraction of the land, and use much less water to make the best lab-grown diamonds than is displaced and used by diamond mines.
Future use of diamonds in technological applications will increase our energy efficiency and may reduce our dependence on various mined minerals, particularly silicon.
Optically, physically and chemically identical, lab diamonds sparkle, shine and gleam exactly as natural diamonds do. The best lab-grown diamonds are beautiful for the same reasons natural diamonds are beautiful. When you buy lab-grown jewelry, you are buying diamonds that offer the same properties of a mined diamond.
The best lab-grown diamonds represent at most 10% of the diamonds on the market, making them as rare as ethically and sustainably produced mined diamonds, but available at significantly lesser expense per carat.
The best lab-grown diamonds in jewelry are significantly more affordable than mined diamonds, often by many hundreds of dollars and even up to thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars less per carat. For the price of a single-carat mined diamond, you can have a two or even three carat lab-created diamond, or larger, for the center stone of a diamond engagement ring or other jewelry.
When you buy any diamond, including a lab-grown diamond, there are several important factors to consider:
Diamond Certification Report
It is imperative that you never purchase a diamond of any kind without gemological certification.
In the certification report from an accredited gemological institute, you will receive the following very important information on that stone:
* Identification Number of the stone, normally laser inscribed on the girdle of the stone and visible with the aid of a jeweler's loupe.
* The grades for the 4 cs in that stone.
* The proportions of the stone's facets.
Because all diamonds, whether they be lab-created diamonds or natural diamonds, have the same atomic makeup, the 4cs can be universally applied using the same standard.
A cut diamond has several recognizable features that define its facet arrangement. The flat facet on the top of the diamond- the window through which you see into the stone—is called the Table. Directly beneath it at the bottom of the diamond is the Culet, which may be a point, or a small flat facet.
Around the middle of the diamond, at its widest point is the Girdle. Today most girdles are faceted, but they may still be very narrow. Between the table on top and the girdle around are facets that make up the Crown of the diamond. Beneath the girdle, are the facets of the Pavilion that narrow down to the Culet.
Diamonds are cut in a myriad of different fashions but most conform to two styles: Step Cuts and Brilliant Cuts.
Step cuts favor the brilliance of diamonds, with their parallel cut facets producing prismatic and mirror effects. They are often noted for having a warm glow and long flashes of light. They have polygonal facets set parallel to each other, graduating down from the girdle.
Brilliant cuts favor the scintillating effects of diamonds along with their brilliance and fire. Their angled facets refract and reflect light creating the scintillating effect many associate with diamonds over other gems.
Melee diamonds are very small diamonds, normally round brilliant cut, that are used for pave, accents and halos. GIA defines them as ⅕ or less of a carat, though that definition may change depending on the country you are in and the diamond jeweler you are using.
Michael Gabriels is a family-run business with three generations of experience with the best lab-grown diamonds and jewelry. What sets us apart is our process and our stones. Men's lab-grown diamond jewelry and women's lab-grown diamond jewelry can both feature the brilliance, cut and color found in their natural counterparts.
We simplify the diamond selection process for you, by using the criteria you pre-determine in our inquiry to select a limited number of stones that are the best within that range. You can buy our lab-grown diamonds online, or schedule an appointment to come view them in person at your pleasure.
We have access to some of the largest and highest-value lab-created diamonds in the world. We specialize in producing customized and bespoke pieces of jewelry, especially diamond engagement rings using lab-created diamonds and recycled metals.
All of our white gold, yellow gold and rose gold, and platinum is sustainably recycled. We have a vast collection of jewelry, especially popular designs of engagement rings to choose from, all of which we are happy to customize. As a multi-generationally experienced lab diamond jeweler, our experts will help you design the perfect lab-grown diamond ring or jewelry piece from scratch.