Natural VS Man made
Lately more and more clients are looking for alternatives to diamonds.
Some might be looking for a more cost-effective, ”earth friendly” options.
Budget is also a big roll player in this upward trend.
For what ever reason, the demand has steadily increased in recent years.
There are a few alternatives. Moissanite, Cubic zirconia’s and coloured gemstones are a few of these.
Although most of these are great options, they don’t quite have that diamond look!
Therefore, man made, or laboratory grown diamonds have become increasingly popular as an option.
They are identical in almost every way. Even the most experienced diamond dealer needs the help of technology to tell the difference.
Using either HPHT (high pressure high temperature) or CVD (chemical vapor deposition), real diamonds are being artificially created in labs.
By creating an environment of high pressure and temperature, as the name suggests, HPHT diamonds are manufactured
simulating the way in which a natural diamond grows.
Extreme temperatures in excess of 2200 degrees Celsius and pressure of approximately 1.5 million pounds per square inch
are plied to a Small ‘’diamonds seed’’ is placed in pure carbon.
a Diamond crystal is formed 21-28 days later by repeating this process.
This is not something new. Although not big enough to use in jewellery, the first diamond was created in a lab on the 16th of December 1954.
Most of these diamonds where used for industrial purposes in manufacturing tools.
This is because of their hardness and conductivity just to name a few of its properties. This is still true today for most man-made diamonds.
A comparison of rough diamonds shows a 0.83 ct natural diamond crystal on the left and a
1.02 ct HPHT crystal on the right. Both crystals are from the GIA Research Collection.
Photo by Orasa Weldon.
CVD diamonds are grown using a more recently developed technique.
Similar to the HTHP technique, a diamond seed is used (often a diamond produced using HTHP).
This thin slice of diamond seed is placed in a chamber that is heated to about 800 degrees Celsius.
Carbon rich gasses that fill the chamber are ionized using microwaves or lasers.
This process breaks the molecular bonds in these gasses which makes the pure carbon build up
slowly around the diamond seed layer by layer eventually resulting in a diamond crystal.
Colorless gem-quality CVD-grown man-made diamonds such as these
(0.22-0.31 ct) are commercially available, making proper identification important.
Photos by Jian Xin Liao, composite by Kevin Schumacher/GIA.
Natural diamonds on the other hand are believed to have formed about 2.5 to 3 billion years ago.
This happened 160-200 kilometers blow the Earths surface.
According to scientists the carbon that makes diamonds come from the upper mantle from pre-existing rock melting.
The temperature changes and the carbon atoms are pushed deeper into the earth.
This is where diamonds are formed when the conditions are right. If the pressure and temperatures are to low, graphite is formed.
These diamonds are then carried to the surface by volcano’s. These emanates from deep cracks and fissures called dikes.
It develops a carrot shape near the surface when gasses separate from the magma and an eruption follows.
The volcanic cone formed above the kimberlite rock (Named after Kimberly where this was first discovered where diamonds where first discovered in 1866)
are very small in comparison to volcanos like Mount st. Helens. But the magma originates from much deeper enabling the kimberlite to tap the source of diamonds.
Natural diamonds also come into contact with other elements that can change their colour.
These diamonds are called fancy coloured diamonds.
They are extremely rare and only account for about 0.1% of the total diamonds mined worldwide.
Other elements like Aluminium, Boron and nitrogen causes fluorescence in diamonds.
This can be seen when exposing a diamond to ultraviolet light. This makes the diamond appear to glow.
So which one is natural and which one is man made?
To the untrained and even the trained eye, laboratory grown diamonds are identical to natural diamonds.
Diamonds are sent to Laboratories like GIA where these diamonds are identified and certified.
Like natural diamonds the display the same characteristics as natural diamonds. The are graded with a colour and a clarity and in most cases they will laser inscription ‘’laboratory grown’’ on the girdle of the diamond.
This identifies it as a lab grown diamond. For this reason its vital that you insist on a laboratory certificate when purchasing a diamond, natural or man-made.
Lab grown diamonds are usually less expensive then natural diamonds. For this reason, you get a lot more diamond for your money making it an ever increasingly popular alternative.
So, which one would you choose?
We have a range of GIA certified Natural and Lab grown diamonds Available.
Written by Martin Nagel
Owner and Jewellery Expert at Martin Nagel Manufacturing Jewellers.