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How synthetic diamonds are made

An overview of how diamonds are made in a lab.

 

Lab grown diamonds are real diamonds without the negative environmental and social impacts - despite their differences in origin.

The first question people ask about lab grown diamonds is: Are they real  diamonds? YES! Another blog post has a great overview of lab grown diamonds compared to mined diamonds.

To clarify quickly: While lab grown diamonds are referred to as synthetic diamonds, they are not the same as fake diamonds. Fake diamonds have a different composition from natural diamonds, while lab grown diamonds are identical to mined diamonds. Examples of alternatives to diamonds include cubic zirconia and moissanite.

For the sake of this blog post, we’re answering the next question on everyone’s minds: How are synthetic diamonds made?

The short answer is that synthetic diamonds are made with pressure and heat, meant to mirror the natural process from conception to when a diamond is mined billions of years later.

The long answer? There’s two key processes currently used to create lab grown diamonds. But before we get into the ins and outs of how synthetic diamonds are made, we should first talk about how diamonds are created in nature. With an understanding of the natural process, the laboratory will make more sense.

How are diamonds formed in nature?

While we don’t know the exact origin of natural diamonds, we do know that they were formed billions of years ago, deep below the earth’s surface. The catalyst? Buried carbon dioxide. It doesn’t sound all that fancy, right?!

Add heat, intense pressure, and diamonds are formed. They travel from the earth’s core to closer to the surface where humans can mine through kimberlite pipes most commonly. Kimberlite pipes are vertical and horizontal igneous rock structures formed within the mantle of the earth. However, we’ve also found diamonds far from these kimberlite pipes because volcanic ruptures, including the underground variety, move the diamonds outward from the core.

How are diamonds made in a lab?

We mentioned that there are currently two key ways that diamonds are made in a lab. Both require high pressure and high temperatures. The major difference is what materials are placed in the chambers before. Here’s an overview of both ways humans can create lab diamonds… 

  • High Pressure-High Temperature (HPHT)

  • The HPHT method begins with a diamond seed and carbon. These two ingredients are highly pressurized at extreme temperatures (over 1,500 Celsius!), which melts the carbon around the diamond seed, growing a new full-sized diamond. There are 3 types of possible tools to use in the HPHT process: The belt press, cubic press, or split-sphere press.

    After cooling, the diamond passes through the typical processes of being cut, shined, and selected for a specific piece of jewelry.


  • Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD)

  • The CVD method starts with a diamond seed as well, but instead of being placed on a piece of carbon, it’s grown inside a chamber with the help of carbon-rich gasses—think methane and hydrogen. It’s common for a HPHT formed diamond seed to be used as the base for CVD synthetic diamonds.

    Using extremely high temperatures again (although slightly lower than the HPTP method at about 800 Celsius) and ionization technology, the gasses break down. This step uses technology similar to a microwave, which turns the gasses into a plasma. The carbon separates from the molecules of the original gas, turns into plasma, and bonds to the diamond seed. Over a short period of time, the diamond grows.

    Sidenote: Lab-grown gemstones follow a slightly different process!

    Are synthetic diamonds certified and graded?

    Just like mined diamonds, synthetic diamonds or lab grown diamonds are also certified and graded. They are actually graded following the same guidelines as natural diamonds because they are identical in their molecular structure. That means that all diamonds, including the lab grown diamonds that Zany&Shy uses to create our luxury sustainable jewelry uses the 4Cs of criteria: Cut, clarity, colour, and carat.

    How it’s made: Lab grown diamond jewelry

    At Zany&Shy, we pride ourselves in always trying to be better to people and the planet. We ethically and sustainably source our materials wherever possible and work with manufacturers who share similar values. All of our jewelry is made to order as well.

    Curious about what that process looks like? Here’s an overview.

    1. Synthetic diamonds created in a lab. We work with suppliers who provide fair working conditions and make lab grown diamonds with minimal environmental impact.
    2. Jewelry design blueprints. We work with a talented designer who helps our founder dream up designs that we know you will love.
    3. Diamonds and other materials selected. Working in small batches and made-to-order allows us to be involved in the creation process, including selecting the best diamonds, gold, and gemstones for each design.
    4. Jewelry sample creation. Although we don’t manufacture our jewelry in bulk, we do want to see what it looks like in real life! These pieces are also used in our photoshoots for marketing materials.
    5. Customer order submission. Each piece of jewelry that you purchase is made-to-order. This small batch creation process helps us save on environmental costs attached to traditional operations, including space wasted for storage facilities and the potential for too many products.
    6. Made-to-order jewelry.  We know that every item of jewelry created has a purpose and a home. By purchasing Zany&Shy jewelry, you do good for the people and the planet too!
    7. Shipped to your door.  As an online exclusive shop, we save you the hassle of having to go anywhere by shipping the finished jewelry directly to your door.

    Are synthetic diamonds a good choice for you?

    Of course, it comes down to preference and a discussion of values. If you’re like us, we believe in both beauty and social responsibility. We think that it’s possible to indulge while being good to the environment and supporting ethical operations. Each piece of Zany&Shy jewelry is made with this in mind.

    And the big goal? We want you to feel good about treating yourself. Browse our collection here.

    More pretty moments on the ‘gram

    @ZANYANDSHY