For thousands of years diamonds have been formed deep in the earth. However, the way we buy these precious gems is being changed with the creation of cultured diamonds. Grown in a laboratory instead of the earth, these real diamonds are a beautiful and ethical alternative to mined diamonds. Before purchasing, it is important to understand get the facts on these man-made gems.
What are Cultured Diamonds?
Cultured diamonds are diamonds grown in a lab which are identical to mined diamonds in their brilliance, chemical makeup and hardness. They are physically and chemically exactly the same. The difference is that they are grown in controlled environments which mimic the growing process of natural diamonds. Other names for cultured diamonds include man-made, synthetic, cultivated or lab diamonds.
How are Cultured Diamonds Made?
Just as with cultured pearls, cultured diamonds are grown in conditions which simulate the natural growth process. Despite being grown in a lab, cultured diamonds are visually identical to mined diamonds and few trained gemologists are able to tell the difference. In fact, cultured diamonds are more perfect than natural diamonds because they are grown in controlled conditions which eliminate any impurities found in nature. There are two main processes, HPHT (High-Pressure High-Temperature) and CVD (Chemical Vapor Deposition). With HPHT, large presses produce a tremendous amount of pressure and heat on carbon to create diamonds–often yellow in color. The same process is used to enhance natural diamonds. On the other hand, CVD begin with a single crystal diamonds (or “seeds”) which are placed in growth chambers. Vapors of carbon atoms form a plasma cloud, falling onto the single diamond crystal where atom by atom, a clear white diamond is formed in about 100 hours.
Stunning colorful (or fancy) cultured diamonds are available in many different shades of color and sizes. While natural colored diamonds are extremely rare and valuable, colorful cultured diamonds are more affordable–even larger carat sizes. The invention of colored cultured diamonds opens up the options for people wishing to own colored diamonds previously considered too rare and expensive.
Buying Cultured Diamonds
Just as with natural diamonds, the 4Cs apply but to a lesser degree due to the lower amount of inclusions and flaws in cultured diamonds. With this in mind, you may be able to get a finer grade cultured diamond for the price of a lower grade natural diamond–especially in the case of colored diamonds.There are several reputable companies which sell cultured or man-made diamonds. While they are predominantly online merchants, some sites have links to retail locations around North America. A few of the most popular stores include Apollo Diamond, Gemesis, Chatham, New Age Diamonds, Takara Diamonds, and Diamonds Cultured.
Other Helpful Tips
- Cultured diamonds cost about 30% less than their mined counterparts.
- Colorless cultured diamonds are generally below 1 ct. while colored stones can come wider range of shapes and sizes, depending on availability.
- Depending on personal convictions, some may not consider lab or man-made diamonds to be “real” since they are not formed in the earth. Others feel that regardless of origin, a diamond is a diamond.
- Cultured diamonds are considered to be socially, environmentally and ethically superior to mined diamonds. Being conflict and blood free, cultured diamonds become an important consideration for an increasing number of people.
While natural diamonds are highly symbolic of enduring love, commitment and power, cultured diamonds provide the same look and feel with more affordability. Whether a diamond is grown hundreds of miles deep below the earth’s surface or in a lab, the end result is the same. Cultured diamonds are a beautiful alternative for many couples to consider when shopping for diamond jewelry.
Photos courtesy of Takara Diamond