The person who quoted ‘diamonds are forever’, had put quite some thought into it apparently. Organic diamonds are produced under the surface of the Earth at very high temperatures and pressure situations. They take billions of years to form and may get exhausted someday due to continuous mining. But that did not deter man. He replicated the same process in a laboratory and after countless failed efforts finally became the proud creator of what we called today the ‘man-made’ or synthetic diamond.
Tracy Hall was an inventor in Utah. He made the first batch of man-made diamonds in the year 1954. Since then, the industry has never seen a low as man hit the jackpot with beating nature at creating something as good as the original.
So are man-made diamonds artificial? Not at all. They are very much real. Synthetic diamonds are virtually indistinguishable from natural diamonds. They are exactly same in appearance and atomically. Only a professional would be able to tell a difference. They also hold a lot of selling and reselling value in the market.
How are man-made diamonds made?
In the laboratories/factories, there are two main procedures used to create man-made diamonds: High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) and Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD). Many lab grown diamond engagement rings are made using either of these two processes.
High Pressure High Temperature
This technique replicates the atmospheric conditions that form natural diamonds under the Earth’s crust. The same conditions are produced in a laboratory. There is a containment cube that is sealed. In the cube is placed a small diamond seed in the midst of pure concentrated carbon. After applying intense heat and pressure, the carbon and diamond seed fuse to form a diamond. It is then cooled, cut, shaped and polished to look like the aesthetic diamond we see for sale.
Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD)
CVD also has a sealed chamber which holds a slice of a diamond seed. It is then exposed to 800°C heat after which carbon-rich gases such as hydrogen and methane are released into the chamber. They break down the molecular bonds of carbon and attach it to the diamond seed forming a diamond which is larger in size.
How long do man-made diamonds take to be fully formed?
The natural diamonds that are mined from the Earth’s surface today were created billions of years ago. If we exhaust the supply, then the next diamonds available will be after billions of years again opal rings. Man-made diamonds solved this issue of exhaustible gemstones. In a laboratory, synthetic diamonds take around 6 to 10 weeks to develop completely; which is close to 2.5 months on an average. This time frame, however, does not involve the later stages of polishing and creating jewellery out of the diamond. It is only how the stone itself takes to form after being cooled, cut and shaped.
Many people prefer man-made diamonds over organic ones these days due to their lower price, similarity to organic diamonds and as an eco-responsibility towards the planet. Since mining tends to weaken the Earth’s ground and has long-term consequences as the floor is loosened, it is a price to pay just for some bling. Lab created diamonds on the other hand are safer for the planet, take lesser time to produce and so are practically inexhaustible. There is a lot of demand for engagement rings in London that use man-made diamonds.