What Are Lab Diamonds? - The Real Jewelry Company

What Are Lab Diamonds?

What Are Lab Diamonds? - The Real Jewelry Company

What are laboratory-grown diamonds?

Laboratory-grown diamonds have essentially the same chemical, optical and physical properties and crystal structure as natural diamonds. Like natural diamonds, they are made of tightly-bonded carbon atoms. They respond to light in the same way and are just as hard as natural diamonds. The main differences between laboratory-grown and natural diamonds lie in their origin. Think of it this way: laboratory-grown diamonds are like ice from your refrigerator, while natural diamonds are like ice from a glacier. They are both ice, although their formation stories and the age of each are very different.


Natural diamonds formed millions to billions of years ago in Earth’s mantle then were explosively carried by kimberlite and lamproite volcanoes to Earth’s surface, often carrying fascinating inclusions within them. Laboratory-grown diamonds appear identical to natural diamonds to the unaided eye and typically require testing by a laboratory with advanced instruments to be identified.


How are laboratory-grown diamonds made?

There are two main processes used to create laboratory-grown diamonds:


1. High Pressure, High Temperature (HPHT)
With this method, laboratory-grown diamonds are produced using high-pressure, high-temperature conditions similar to what natural diamonds experience in the earth. HPHT diamond growth occurs at pressures of 5–6 GPa (roughly equivalent to the pressure exerted by a commercial jet airplane if balanced on the tip of a person’s finger) and at temperatures of 1300–1600°C.

Lower-quality diamonds, whether natural or laboratory-grown, can also be put through the HPHT process to improve color. In addition to making diamonds more colorless, this process can also be used to change the color of diamonds to pink, blue or yellow. The diamond would then be called a “treated” diamond. This is disclosed in GIA reports.



2. Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD)
This technique enables scientists to grow laboratory-grown diamonds using moderate temperatures (700°C to 1300°C) and lower pressures. Carbon-containing gas is pumped into a vacuum chamber and deposits onto a diamond seed, crystallizing as laboratory-grown diamond. The eventual size of the diamond depends on the time allowed for growth.


How are laboratory-grown diamonds identified?

Laboratory-grown diamonds require advanced testing in a gemological laboratory to be identified with certainty. At laboratories like GIA, scientists and graders used sophisticated instruments to analyze diamond strain patterns, trace element composition, inclusions, fluorescence, phosphorescence and more in order to separate laboratory-grown diamonds from natural. These factors are different due to the vastly different formation conditions of laboratory-grown and natural diamonds.

To help jewelers separate natural and laboratory-grown diamonds, GIA created the GIA iD100®, a convenient desktop instrument that can distinguish natural diamonds from laboratory-grown diamonds, diamond simulants and some treated diamonds in under two seconds. Simply point the probe at a loose or mounted stone to get a simple “Pass” for natural diamonds or “Refer” for stones that need further testing.

In the event that a stone needs further testing, it can be sent to a gemological laboratory such as GIA for identification. If the stone proves to be laboratory-grown, GIA will issue a GIA Laboratory-Grown Diamond Report.


How does GIA evaluate laboratory-grown diamonds?

When a laboratory-grown diamond is submitted to a GIA laboratory, it is first examined to determine if it is natural or laboratory-grown. Then, GIA graders evaluate it using the 4Cs, a standard of evaluation created by GIA and implemented all over the world. Our graders evaluate each laboratory-grown diamond with the same meticulous care as natural diamonds. The GIA Laboratory-Grown Diamond Report provides detailed color and clarity specifications, honing in with greater insight than ever before and allowing consumers to make crystal clear decisions. The report also includes a plot of the stone’s clarity characteristics.

Using spectroscopy and other advanced testing methods, GIA scientists can determine how a diamond was grown—through the high-pressure, high-temperature (HPHT) method or the chemical vapor deposition (CVD) method. This information is then included in the report. In addition to stating a diamond’s growth method, the Laboratory-Grown Diamond Report also states whether there is evidence of any post-growth treatments. Diamonds, whether laboratory-grown or natural, can be treated using several methods to acquire a fancy color, such as pink, blue, green or yellow, or to improve the color of a D-to-Z diamond. GIA’s LGDR lets consumers know whether their diamonds have been treated. As an added precaution to protect consumers, GIA also laser-inscribes the diamond’s girdle with the report number and a statement that identifies the diamond as laboratory-grown.


Why choose lab-grown diamonds?

By selecting a lab-grown diamond, you are enjoying the beauty of diamond without the human and environmental toll of mining. You get more carats, more brilliance, more sparkly at a lower price point.

Are lab created diamonds better for the environment?

Not all lab-grown diamonds are created equal. Many lab-grown diamonds are made in foundries which rely on fossil fuels for energy. Their carbon footprint can be as large as a traditional mine. However, TRJC diamonds come from our zero-emission partners and are sustainably grown.

Are lab-grown diamonds certified?

Lab-grown diamonds can and should be certified. It is inadvisable to purchase any diamond without diamond certification. Diamonds should go through a grading process that considers the 4Cs, no matter their origin.