WHY LAB CREATED DIAMONDS
Lab-grown diamonds are composed of the same chemical crystal as natural diamonds and exhibit the same fire, scintillation, and sparkle.
HOW ARE LAB-CREATED DIAMONDS CERTIFIED AND GRADED?
Diamonds are sent to a gem lab that specializes in grading diamonds. The majority of these labs grade using the 4c’s (cut, clarity, color, and carat — more on those later), however, a select few use their own criteria.
The most popular diamond certification labs are:
- Gemological Institute of America (GIA)
- Antwerp World Diamond Center (AWDC)
- American Gem Society (AGS)
- International Gemological Institute (IGI)
- Gemological Science International (GSI)
Lab grown diamonds: The possibilities are endlessS
Lab Grown Diamonds
Lab grown diamonds (also called man-made diamonds and lab created diamonds) are more beautiful, ethical and affordable than anything we will get out of the earth. We’re replicating the earth’s natural process by crystallizing carbon into brilliant diamonds that are chemically, optically and physically identical to earth-mined diamonds, but are priced up to 40% less, and free of any environmental or humanitarian concerns.
Think of this as making ice in your freezer versus getting it from a glacier; both are ice regardless of the origin.
At SOFIA LIOR Diamonds, we offer one of the largest selections of Type IIa lab grown diamonds. These are the purest form of synthetic diamond, making them brighter and harder than 98% of earth-mined diamonds. In the past, Type IIa lab diamonds have only been available to celebrities and royalty due to their rarity and steep price, however, all SOFIA LIOR laboratory grown diamonds are Type IIA.
What Are Lab Created Diamonds Made Of?
Each laboratory created diamond is grown by placing a diamond ‘seed’ into a chamber of heat and pressure. This chamber mimics the natural growing process. Crystallization occurs allowing the lab grown diamond to mature within six to ten weeks. It is then cut, polished and graded by the same world renowned labs that certify earth-mined diamonds. The two following techniques are most commonly used by laboratories:
CHEMICAL VAPOR DEPOSITION (CVD)
Chemical Vapor Deposition, or CVD, is a process used to create gem-grade diamonds as well as optics and semiconductors. The CVD process uses ultra-pure carbon-rich gasses in a controlled chamber. Carbon-based gasses, such as methane, are heated until they break apart allowing the carbon atoms within the gas to separate. These tiny carbon atoms fall onto a diamond substrate and build up layers resulting in a rough diamond crystal. This process takes between six to ten weeks and yields gem-grade Type IIa lab diamonds.
In recent years, CVD research has gained popularity and now modified versions of CVD are being used. These processes differ in the means by which chemical reactions are initiated. Some of these variations include:
- Low-pressure CVD (LPCVD)
- Ultrahigh vacuum CVD (UHVCVD)
- Plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD)
- Microwave Plasma Vapor Deposition (MPCVD)
- Lab Grown Diamond growing from a seed
HIGH-PRESSURE HIGH-TEMPERATURE (HPHT)
High-Pressure High-Temperature, or HPHT, recreates a synthetic diamond’s natural growing environment found deep within the Earth. The machines used have the ability to build up the pressure of almost 60,000 atmospheres and temperature of 2,500 degrees Celsius.
The growth cell contains all the elements needed to grow a lab diamond, including a seed, highly refined graphite and a catalyst mixture consisting of metals and powders. The cell is placed in the center of the HPHT chamber. Consistent temperatures reaching 1,300 degrees Celsius and more than 50,000 atmospheres of pressure are applied. The catalysts inside the cell are the first to react to the added heat and pressure and change from solid to molten form.
The molten catalyst solution causes the graphite within the cell to dissolve. Once all the required conditions are met, the cooling process begins. This process takes place over several days and allows the carbon atoms to build upon the seed. The cell is removed from the HPHT machine once the growth cycle is complete. The new rough lab created diamond is extracted and cleaned in preparation for final cutting and polishing.
The entire HPHT growing process requires an incredibly controlled environment to produce a gem-quality lab diamond. Any shift or change during growth can cause the synthetic diamond to stop growing or can create inclusions that result in unusable lab created diamonds. Every grown diamond must complete the entire growth cycle before the machine can be opened. It is only after the HPHT chamber is opened that we can see the finished rough lab diamond and its color, clarity, and size.
Within the HPHT process, there are three primary tools used to supply the pressure and temperature necessary to produce lab-created diamonds. These are:
- Bars Press – The Bars Press is the most effective tool used for producing gem-quality manufactured diamonds. It uses a combination of inner and outer anvils to apply hydraulic pressure to the growth cell.
- Belt Press – The Belt Press is the founding technology behind growing lab diamonds. It can be large and produce several lab diamonds in only one cycle by using two large anvils that press together to create the necessary pressure. It is capable of producing gem-quality diamonds but is most commonly used to produce synthetic diamonds and diamond powder for industrial purposes.
- Cubic Press – A Cubic Press can be large in size and uses six separate anvils to create the necessary pressure for artificial diamonds crystal growth. It is also used to create lab diamonds powder for industrial purposes.