April 22, 2015

Synthetic diamonds are those created or grown in a laboratory by a crystal growth process, atom by atom. The term usually means imitation, artificial or fake but in this case the content of the stones produced are made from pure carbon as are natural geologically formed diamonds.

There are two main methods employed, one is a physical process known as HPHT, using high pressure and temperature and the other is a chemical method known as CVD (chemical vapor deposition) using a hydrocarbon gas mixture.

Diamonds in any form have either industrial or cosmetic applications. Synthetic diamonds are used mainly as abrasives and in cutting and polishing tools. Today electronic applications of synthetic diamond are also being developed. It is thought that 98% of industrial grade diamond demand is supplied with synthetic diamonds.

The properties of synthetic diamond depend on the details of the manufacturing processes; however, some synthetic diamonds (whether formed by HPHT or CVD) have properties such as hardness, thermal conductivity and electron mobility that are superior to those of most naturally-formed diamonds.

Synthetic diamonds can be cut into gems and various colors can now be produced in addition to clear white. These fancy color diamonds are available in brilliant yellow and golden yellow hues, and have the beauty and color of their mined equivalents at more attractive prices. They can also be obtained in brown, blue due to the presence of boron, green and orange. Due to the high price of mined diamonds, the ability to produce gem-quality synthetic diamonds threatened to undercut the business of mined diamond producers and measures were taken to protect the regular trade. De Beers developed spectroscopic devices and techniques to distinguish synthetic and natural diamonds and promoted natural diamonds as superior, in addition to attempting to fix the price of synthetic diamonds.

Gem-quality diamonds grown in a lab are hard to distinguish from natural mined stones and can be chemically, physically and optically identical. De Beers offers a tester that employs UV fluorescence to detect metals found in synthetic stones. One manufacturer of laboratory-grown diamonds etches the letters "LG" (laboratory grown) on its stones followed by a serial number.

Two positive factors are found in lab-grown diamonds the first is less damage to the environment. The second relates to “conflict” or “blood” diamonds and as the origin of synthetic diamonds is known and guaranteed, there is no need for any apprehensions regarding this matter.