How are Lab-Grown Diamonds Made?
First, let’s explore how natural diamonds are formed so you can have a better understanding as to how and why lab-grown diamonds are manufactured the way they are.
Natural diamonds are formed by three factors: heat, pressure, and time. Natural diamonds are grown deep underground, approximately 100 miles into Earth’s mantle crust. Diamonds are made of carbon; carbon molecules this deep into earth are exposed to high temperatures and extreme pressure, ultimately forcing carbon atoms to bind together and grow diamond crystals. Each one carat diamond represents billions of carbon atoms that bonded together to form a crystal formation. Arguably, the time factor is what makes a natural diamond so unique. The diamonds mined today and diamonds we have in our showcases grew in the Earth’s crust for many years – actually, billions of years. Did you know that diamonds are older than most stars in the sky?
Now that you know how natural diamonds are formed, let us explain how lab-grown diamonds are made.
Currently, there are two different technological ways to create lab-grown diamonds. The first is through HP/HT (High Pressure/High Temperature), which models how natural diamonds are formed in the earth. Lab-grown manufacturers place what’s called a diamond “seed,” which can be a miniscule fragment of a natural diamond or lab-grown diamond, into a device able to create hydraulic pressure, alongside other metals like iron (Fe), nickel (Ni) and cobalt (Co) to interact and foster crystal growth. Under this intense pressure, the crystals develop into a lab-grown diamond. This complete process can take three to four weeks.
The second method to create a lab-grown diamond is through CVD (Chemical Vapor Deposition). Like the HP/HT method, a starter “seed” is placed in a sealed apparatus that heats to intense temperatures. From there, the vacuum-sealed chamber is filled with hydrogen and a carbon-rich gas, typically methane. An energy source, like a microwave beam, will then break down the gas molecules, and carbon atoms disperse towards the cooler temperature of the starter seed. Crystals in a CVD are typically formed within two weeks.