Diamonds have been a prominent feature of engagement rings for decades and are still the most popular choice for a special piece of jewellery. However, up until recently there was only one way to source them: mining deep into the earth for the natural rough diamond formed over thousands of years. But now, thanks to advancements in technology and research, there is now the option of lab-grown diamonds.
These come in all carat weights, cuts, and colours, and are physically, chemically, and visually the same as a natural diamond. Diamond Heaven is one of the few places in Glasgow to source and sell lab-grown diamonds. We can find the perfect diamond for you, and have it set into whichever form of jewellery you desire. So, what do you need to know before you go lab diamond shopping? Let’s find out!
There are currently 2 methods of growing diamonds, high pressure, and high temperature (HPHT), and chemical vapour deposition (CVD).
The first method is high pressure high temperature (or HPHT for short). This is most similar to replicating the conditions in the earth which causes diamonds to form naturally. It starts with a diamond seed, which is essentially carbon powder pressed into a tiny capsule. It is placed into the growth chamber (picture below) with extreme pressure of 5-6GPa (roughly 600kg of force per square millimetre!) and temperatures of up to 1600°C. The diamond will then grow from the seed atom by atom. A rough diamond of around 10.00ct can take up to 2 weeks to form. Much faster than the thousands of years they take to form naturally!
Chemical Vapour Deposition (or CVD) also starts with a diamond seed, but this time more like a thin wafer. The seed is placed into a vacuum chamber with a mixture of carbon rich gases, including hydrogen and methane, which are then heated to ionize the gases into plasma. Simply put, this separates the carbon from the gas which then rains down onto the seed to build up layer by layer. This method takes a little longer, approximately 1 month to form 1ct of rough, but the benefit is that it uses lower temperature and pressure than HPHT.
From here, the steps are the same for natural and lab-grown. The rough diamond goes through the cutting and polishing process to take it from an unattractive stone to a brilliant diamond. Then, skilled diamond graders will assess the diamond in great detail to determine its cut, clarity, and colour, and weigh it for carat weight. The 2 most well-known diamond graders and certifiers are GIA (gemmological institute of America) and IGI (international gemmological institute). GIA is the world-leader for natural diamonds, whereas IGI are the top for lab-grown. Both labs laser-inscribe their diamonds with a unique number on the girdle of the diamond, which can only be seen under x10 magnification and does not affect the stone in any way.
So how can you tell the difference between lab and natural diamonds? The short answer is you can’t. Even a specialist would struggle to tell without the use of analytical tests. There is no single test or machine currently that can determine, meaning a diamond would go through numerous tests looking at UV fluorescence and phosphorescence to provide proof of its origin. The core properties are almost identical for both lab and natural.
There are many things to consider when choosing between lab and natural diamonds. The biggest benefit to the lab-grown diamonds is certainly the price. On average couples can save 30-50% compared to a natural diamond of the same carat weight, clarity, and colour; so, can be beneficial in saving those precious pounds for your wedding! For those who are environmentally conscious, the growing process uses less than half the energy and a mere 18 gallons of water in comparison to 126 gallons used to mine diamonds. All natural diamonds go through the Kimberley process to ensure they are ethical and conflict free, whereas lab-grown diamonds are 100% conflict-free.
Many buyers choose diamonds as a form of investment, due to their long-standing value and durability. For lab-grown diamonds, the long-term value is yet to settle, so time will tell if they hold their value as strongly as the natural. Natural diamonds will always be popular but with the introduction of lab-grown it enables buyers an even wider choice in choosing their perfect piece of diamond jewellery. To find out more or to start the search for your own lab or natural diamond, give us a call or email to book an appointment in store:
0141 221 6447
Unit 31, Princes Square, Buchanan Street
Glasgow, G1 3JN