Are Lab-Grown Diamonds Real Diamonds?
Are lab-grown diamonds real diamonds?
Lab-grown diamonds have ushered in a new era of sustainability, offering environmentally friendly choices in an industry historically dominated by mined diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds share the same physical, atomical and chemical properties of their mined counterparts and are recognized as real by consumer protection agencies.
Officially, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) defines a diamond as “A mineral consisting essentially of pure carbon crystallized in the isometric system” and whether a diamond is mined or created, both share this chemical composition. The difference and designation between lab-grown and mined diamonds lie in the way in which it is created. Titles like “lab-grown” and “mined” designate origin; while mined diamonds are extracted through complex pit, underground or alluvial methods and utilize heavy machinery and an extensive amount of labor, created diamonds are made by replicating the way diamonds are made in nature with no negative environmental or human toll.
The difference between lab-grown and natural diamonds could be compared to the difference between ice formed outside on a winter’s day versus ice that’s formed inside your refrigerator.
Are lab-grown diamonds the same as mined diamonds?
Lab-grown diamonds share the same optical, physical and chemical properties as mined diamonds, with the only difference being their innovative origin. As of 2018, The FTC considers both lab-grown and mined diamonds to be real.
Whether created in a lab or mined from the Earth, both diamond types share an identical process, forming first as carbon atoms under high temperature and immense pressure, then bonding together to grow a crystalline lattice structure. Once formed, rough diamonds of either designation are cut and polished to reveal their maximum brilliance. Identical to mined diamonds, lab-grown diamonds also exhibit unique variations in color and clarity, known as inclusions, that occur naturally during the diamond’s growth process. These distinct markers are what make each diamond truly one-of-a-kind. The polished diamonds are then graded on the same scale as mined diamonds, known as the 4C’s, and receive a certificate documenting their individual cut, color, clarity and carat weight.
Lab-grown and mined diamonds are not moissanite (a naturally occurring gemstone) or cubic zirconia (a synthesized material).
How are lab-grown diamonds made?
Today, lab-grown diamonds are produced by two methods: chemical vapor deposition (CVD) or high pressure, high temperature (HPHT).
While both offer a controlled environment, the HTHP is more costly and less energy efficient. The thermodynamic process involves placing a diamond seed into pure carbon, then exposing it to intense pressure and heat. The carbon attaches to the diamond seed in 14 different directions and forms a rough diamond with a complex cuboctohedron shape.
CVD is a more economical and sustainable process, using vacuum chambers to convert carbon-heavy gasses into plasma with less energy consumption. Kinetics allow the carbon atoms inside the chamber to build on top of the diamond seed in a single vertical direction, so the rough diamond grows into a cleaner square shape.
How are diamonds featured in VRAI designs produced and is the process sustainable?
The sustainably created diamonds featured in VRAI designs are produced by our own foundry using the CVD method and begin with a thin foundation of diamond. Carbon is atomized in a plasma reactor, where one by one, the atoms stack on top of the slice, extending the unique crystal structure of diamonds extracted from the earth and growing into a pure, jewelry-grade diamond of gem size. The foundation material can be sliced off and reused as starting material any number of times. Once the rough stone forms, our diamonds are then cut and polished internationally to the most exacting standards by master craftsmen in our workshops.
VRAI sustainably created diamonds are the world’s only diamonds produced with zero carbon footprint. Combining proprietary technology of superior efficiency with the zero-emission power of the Columbia River, our foundry is able to sustainably grow diamond in America’s beautiful Pacific West.
More sustainable than mining and both traditional HPHT and CVD methods, our proprietary technology utilizes hydropower so there is no carbon footprint while growing our diamonds. Choosing just a carat of our diamonds vs. mined diamonds, saves 250 tons of earth, 120 gallons of water and 143 lbs of carbon dioxide released into the air.
How are our sustainably created diamonds priced?
As the only jewelry company that is vertically integrated, VRAI eliminates middlemen and markups to provide diamonds of impeccable value and origin. We own the complete diamond production process, including cutting and polishing studios, so our diamonds pass through fewer hands and incur fewer expenses along the way. Utilizing superior technology, renewable energy, and an overall carbon-neutral process, our prices reflect the more economical and sustainable means we’ve created to grow our own diamonds in today’s market. We offer complete transparency throughout this process and ensure that every one of our diamonds has no human or environmental toll.
Atomically identical to one another, the only difference between our lab-grown diamonds and mined diamonds is their distinct and cutting-edge provenance. Every diamond VRAI uses truly represents the beauty of evolution.