WHAT ARE LAB GROWN DIAMONDS
Fundamentally, lab-grown diamonds are identical to natural diamonds. They have exactly the same composition, the same molecular structure and all the same physical characteristics. Both visually and chemically, they are indistinguishable.
The only differences relate to the way they are created, and in these respects, lab-grown diamonds offer distinct advantages, especially for those who care about ethics and the environment.
Until quite recently, diamonds could only occur naturally, as a result of processes that took place deep below the Earth’s surface. Heat, pressure and countless years produced diamonds of varying purity, clarity and colour, and they were most often discovered as a result of laborious mining operations.
By contrast, lab-grown diamonds take between six to ten weeks to produce. They are created through a quality-controlled process that prevents the intrusion of nitrogen and other inclusions. As a result, the process consistently generates diamonds of unparalleled clarity and purity. All lab-grown diamonds sold by OST meet the Type IIa classification, whereas only around one to two percent of mined diamonds ever achieve this standard of purity.
The Benefits of Lab-Grown Diamonds
Since, physically, there is no difference between mined and cultured diamonds, they can only be differentiated in terms of their social and environmental impact. By these criteria, lab-grown diamonds offer distinct benefits because they have so little effect on the wider world.
By contrast, certain aspects of the diamond-mining business have been linked to conflict, oppression and to irresponsible extraction techniques that ravage the land.
In many parts of the word, diamonds have been used to fund uprisings and terrorism, to support despots and to sustain tragically destructive civil wars. Likewise, some unscrupulous operators – sometimes with links to these same conflicts – mine diamonds using dangerous, unsustainable methods. These can threaten the safety of workers and will often destroy or poison the ground. Blasting, open cast mining and the use of harsh chemicals such as cyanide and sodium hydroxide can all damage valuable natural habitats and ruin the livelihoods of people who once worked on the land.
Of course, this is not to suggest that all mined diamonds are extracted under such conditions, but the problem is sufficiently widespread that it continues to be monitored by governments, international charities and the United Nations.
Fortunately, thanks to modern technology, ethically-minded customers can now buy gem-quality lab-grown diamonds with absolutely no risk of association with conflict or unsustainable mining. The process delivers consistently high quality and takes place under strictly regulated conditions.
Lab-Grown Diamonds – How They’re Made
Cultured diamonds are produced using a process known as Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD). This entails growing the diamond from an ionised gaseous mixture of hydrogen and methane. Using microwave energy, a hot plasma is created inside the chamber and carbon from the methane (a hydrocarbon gas) is gradually deposited onto a tiny diamond ‘seed.’ The process is slow – building up just a few microns every hour – but it allows very careful fine-tuning of the gas composition. This is key to controlling the purity of the resulting diamond.
In order to prevent impurities from forming inclusions in the diamond, the chamber must be kept scrupulously clean and special materials are used that will not release chemical traces. Even tiny amounts of nitrogen, silicon or boron will greatly affect the colour and classification of the diamond, so the precisely controlled laboratory conditions much be maintained at all times.
The result of all this painstaking work is a pure lab-grown diamond that is free from nitrogen and other chemical inclusions. Colour in diamonds normally indicates the presence of nitrogen or some other impurity, whereas pure carbon Type IIa diamonds are usually completely colourless. However, careful control of the production process can yield Type IIa diamonds with an attractive pink hue. For more details, please contact us.
Whether clear or pink, all our lab-grown diamonds are cut and then polished before sale.
Finally, it is worth noting that although the laboratory process is slow and demanding of meticulous care, it entails none of the processes that make traditional diamond mining such a costly process. The savings on labour, land, energy and transport costs can all be passed on to the buyer. Consequently, our customers have the opportunity to invest in top quality diamonds at a truly exceptional price.