What are Eco Friendly Diamonds or Lab Grown Diamonds? Same as mining of any natural resource, the diamond mining has a significant impact on the environment. In-fact, diamond mining companies are fully aware of that impact and have taken steps to try to minimize the effect they have on the ecosystems around them.
However, statistically speaking, for every carat of diamond that is mined, nearly 100 sq ft of land is disturbed and almost 6000 lbs of mineral waste is created. In addition, diamond mining operations result in 1 injury for every 1,000 workers annually.
In contrast, Lab created diamonds are upto 20%-30%, safe to produce and have minimal ecological footprint.
How are Lab-created Diamonds Grown?
Interestingly, the process by which eco friendly/ lab diamonds are created is actually no different to that of natural diamonds. The only difference is one happens naturally in the Earth over billions of years, and the other takes just several weeks in a lab. But scientifically, it’s all the same.
Forming a diamond requires carbon dioxide, extreme heat, and extreme pressure. The effect of this heat and pressure on carbon dioxide kicks off the process that produces beautiful gemstones we know as diamonds.
There are two specific methods used to create lab-grown diamonds. The High Pressure-High Temperature method (HPHT) and Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD).
High Pressure-High Temperature (HPHT) Diamonds
The HPHT method starts with a tiny piece of diamond, called a diamond seed. This seed is placed in pure carbon, and then exposed to heat and pressure mimicking the conditions deep within the Earth’s crust.
A temperature of around 1500 degrees Celsius (2700 Fahrenheit) and pressure of 1.5 million pounds per square inch melts the layer of carbon, forming a completed diamond around the original diamond seed.
How this happens is the carbon melts and dissolves under the heat. It is then solidified by the pressure (turning it into a diamond), and cooled.
There are several different machines commonly used to apply the heat and pressure for the HPHT process – a belt press, cubic press, and the split-sphere (BARS) press. The latter is the most common these days, as the most efficient way of growing diamonds, particularly larger diamonds.
What is Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) Diamonds?
The CVD method, short for Chemical Vapor Deposition, uses less heat and much less pressure than HPHT. Instead, carbon-based gases are used to form and grow what we know as a diamond.
The process begins again with a diamond seed. The diamond seed for the CVD process is usually a narrow diamond slice, quite often one that was first created using the HPHT method.
Similar to HPHT, this diamond seed is placed in a sealed chamber. Gases are then introduced to the chamber, typically methane and hydrogen. The environment is then heated to several hundred degrees Celsius. Under this heat, the gases break down, and the carbon atoms from these gases begin to build around the diamond seed.
The CVD method is newer, and less costly than HPHT, since the machinery is smaller and requires less power. However, CVD diamonds often come out in a black or brown color, which then requires HPHT treatment to get the final, colorless diamond. This being said, the CVD method has improved drastically in the last decade, meaning it’s more common for scientists to produce colorless diamonds using only Chemical Vapor Deposition.
How are lab-created eco friendly diamonds certified and graded?
Lab-created diamonds are graded and certified using the same process as mined diamonds.
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 diamond grading process is roughly the same for all of the diamond certification labs. Each diamond is graded independently by several gemologists at the lab. The individual grades are compiled and analyzed to determine the final grade.
Pros of Lab Grown Diamonds
Less expensive The price of a lab-created diamonds tends to be less than mined diamonds.
However, this does not mean that a lab-created diamond is “cheap.” In fact, the capital costs for lab-grown and mined diamonds are pretty similar.
So, why are lab-created eco friendly diamonds less expensive? Mined diamonds and lab-created diamonds have the exact same costs when it comes to cutting, polishing, and inspection. However, up to that point, the costs and processes are very different.
Mined diamonds have a long supply chain. To get a diamond from its raw form to a retail-ready gemstone requires miners, distributors, cutters, polishers, jewelry manufacturers, and retailers.
On the flip side, the lab-created diamond supply chain is much shorter by skipping the mining process. To put it simply, a lab-created diamond touches fewer hands, making it ultimately less expensive.
Ethical Several years ago, the mined diamond industry came under scrutiny with unethical production practices were exposed. These diamonds, sometimes referred to as blood or conflict diamonds, were funding violence and exploiting miners and their families.
Thanks to the Kimberley Process, established in 2003, these unethical practices have been significantly reduced. In fact, it’s estimated that 99.9% of natural diamonds are now conflict-free.
However, if avoiding conflict or blood diamonds is important to you, lab-created diamonds provide peace a mind that a natural diamond often cannot, and you may find reassurance in knowing the exact origin of your diamond.
Environmentally Kind Lab-created diamonds are inherently and significantly less detrimental to the environment as it takes considerably less energy to grow a diamond in a lab than it does to dig it out of the ground. In fact, it is actually in the interest of the growers to minimize the amount of energy they use in the process to save money and decrease their costs.
Lab created diamonds vs. Natural diamonds
Lab-created diamonds and natural diamonds differ primarily in [how they’re made but also other qualities like price, resale value, rarity and desirability. Here, we give a breakdown of lab-created diamonds vs. natural diamonds:
|Lab-Created Diamonds||Natural Diamonds|
|Lab-grown in a matter of weeks||Formed under the earth’s crust over billions of years|
|Constructed of carbon atoms structures||Constructed of carbon atoms structures|
|Lower price with no resale value||Higher price with resale value at 50%+|
|Available in a range of shapes and carat weight||Available in a range of shapes and carat weight|
|Somewhat desirable for engagement rings||Very desirable for engagement rings|