Synthetic diamonds, also called lab-grown diamonds, lab-created diamonds, manufactured diamonds and cultured diamonds, have been around for decades. General Electric has been producing synthetic diamonds for industrial purposes for years. But until recent technological developments, these industrial diamonds were well below gem-quality and were too small to be cut for use in jewelry. Twenty-first century technology made it possible to produce pure, colorless laboratory grown diamonds that are virtually indistinguishable from mined diamonds, but cost much less than natural diamonds of similar quality.
Synthetic diamonds has all the same physical, chemical and optical qualities of natural diamonds. The only difference is that natural diamonds are formed hundreds of miles below the surface of the Earth, under high temperature and pressure over millions of years, and synthetic diamonds are formed under the same temperature and pressure conditions in a laboratory in only days. High quality synthetic diamonds look so much like real diamonds that they can only be detected using infrared, ultraviolet, X-ray spectroscopy or other specialized testers.
Natural diamonds can be completely colorless and colored diamonds are actually rare. However, most synthetic diamonds will have a slightly yellowish hue to them and color synthetic diamonds are easier to make than colorless ones.
Synthetic gem-quality diamonds are created using one of two different methods, which will create slightly different types of man-made diamonds.
One method is High Pressure-High Temperature (HPHT), which simulate the conditions that create natural diamonds. The HPHT method uses large and heavy presses produce high pressures and high temperatures to compress carbon material to create diamonds. HPHT, pinoneered in the 1950’s by General Electric (GE), is the first method developed to produce synthetic diamonds and is still the most widely used method today due to its relative low cost.
The other method is the chemical vapor deposition (CVD) method, originally developed in the late 1980’s, uses a chemical reaction to rain carbon on top of a seed diamond to grow a real diamond layer by layer. The synthetic diamond is then separated from the seed.
Apollo Diamond, Tairus, Chatham, Adia Diamonds, Gemesis, New Age Diamonds and LifeGem are some of the laboratory grown synthetic diamonds currently available on the market. General Electric, Sumitomo Electric, and De Beers also make synthetic diamonds – but these diamonds are used for industrial purposes and not used for the jewelry business.
Click here to get an overview of these synthetic diamonds currently on the market: