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Diamond Buying Made Easier > Man Made Diamonds
Man Made Diamonds
Man made diamonds has been a dream throughout the ages.... a lot of effort had been put into trying to make actual diamond. Because it proved to be not possible, a lot of effort also went into making colorless gemstones that looked like diamonds, these are called diamond simulants.
The breakthrough finally occurred in 1954 when GE announced that they had successfully made diamonds. These man made diamonds were useful for industrial purposes but more work needed to be done before a gem quality man made diamond was produced.
What man made diamonds are and what they are not....
Man made diamonds are diamonds, 100% diamond, they have the exact same chemical, physical, and optical properties as that of a natural diamond. Man made diamonds are diamonds that are not mined from the earth but instead are made in a laboratory. Cubic Zirconia and Moissanite are not man made diamonds...
Cubic Zirconia (CZ) and Moissanite are diamond simulants.
Man made diamonds do not simulate diamonds because man made diamonds actually are diamonds. Telling the difference between a natural diamond and a man made diamond is possible but it does require some very sophisticated equipment along with special training.... 99.9999% of people will not be able to tell the difference between a man made diamond and a natural diamond.
There are other gemstones which are chemically more complicated than diamond but these gemstones have been easily synthesized in laboratories over the years.
Synthetic ruby has been around since 1837 but man made diamonds are a relative newcomer. Although diamond is composed of only just one element, carbon, getting all those carbon atoms to line up in the proper crystal structure to form diamond has proven to be easier said than done!
Different uses for man made diamonds....
Since the mid 50s, most man made diamonds that are made are for industrial use, like cutting and drilling purposes. But there are new uses for man made diamonds that are being applied at a very fast pace... windshields for jet fighters, computer chips, sensors, and the other day at Home Depot I saw that there is now a kitchen faucet with a washer that is coated with a film of man made diamond. This means that the faucet will never leak or wear out!
Because I am a Gemologist, the industrial applications for man made diamonds are somewhat interesting but it is not my main interest.... thankfully, man made diamonds are used for "blingy" purposes as well!
Man made diamonds are cut, polished, and finished into faceted gemstones. Man made diamonds come in different sizes, shapes, and colors (mostly yellow... but are now becoming available in many more colors). Because of the low cost of manufacturing, man made diamonds can also be offered at a good discount to the natural diamonds that come out of the earth.
How are man made diamonds produced?
Today, there are two main processes for creating man made diamonds... and sorry, but these are very sophisticated procedures so you will not be able to make diamonds in your basement for fun and profit!
The two common processes for making man made diamonds are as follows-
Process #1- HPHT Process-
High Pressure / High Temperature (HPHT)-
This process has been the result of a lot of experiments to reproduce similar conditions in which natural diamonds are formed. You can imagine that to recreate those conditions in order to produce man made diamonds was not an easy task.
Natural diamonds are formed 100 miles below the surface of the earth, under tremendous pressure and heat. The HPHT device, which is pictured here, is a bit larger than the size of a washing machine and it will create temperatures of about 1,500°C along with 58,000 atm of pressure. A small carbon seed is placed into the HPHT chamber and in less than a week it is transformed into a rough diamond crystal.
Common colors for HPHT man made diamonds are yellow, blue, and pink (after irradiation- this ability to alter a diamond's color is explained in color enhanced diamonds).... green and colorless man made diamonds are possible, but not as common. Nitrogen that is used during the growth process and is mainly responsible for the yellow to orange color.
If you would like to see an interesting 3 min. video showing how HPHT man made diamonds are made then click on this link and a small pop up window will show you the video. If this link is not working, please make sure Java Script is enabled.
Process #2- CDV Process-
Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) This method was developed in the 1980s and uses a very different approach to the task of growing man made diamonds than the HPHT process. I have heard that this process is believed to be similar to how diamonds are formed in outer space.
CVD produces man made diamonds by heating a plasma cloud of hydrocarbon gas over numerous "seed" diamonds which have been placed on a metal surface. The seeds quickly grow into little bricks of man made diamonds, these are the rough diamonds that will be cut and polished into finished diamonds.
Using Chemical Vapor Deposition, the man made diamond's entire growth process is pretty fast, taking only several days to complete. This process has the greatest potential for high tech uses... and will produce near colorless man made diamonds for jewelry uses.
So, is a man made diamond right for you?
Maybe.... Some people like the idea of a man made diamond and some people do not. You would need to find a local jewelry store that offers man made diamonds.... every jeweler will have natural diamonds but not many jewelers will carry man made diamonds.
Man made diamonds are offered at better pricing along with the knowledge that man made diamonds are produced in a socially and environmentally friendly manner. Because of the nature of the manufacturing process, many of the man made diamonds come in colors, primarily yellow. The process is being improved at a fast pace and many different other colors, along with colorless man made diamonds are available.
Currently the gemological laboratories are issuing "Synthetic Diamond Grading Reports" for man made diamonds.... in the case of GIA's Gem Trade Laboratory the report uses only 5 clarity and 5 color grades.
Most of the man made diamond manufacturers and the gem labs will laser inscribe on the girdle of a man made diamond that the diamond is a man made diamond. This should make it more difficult for a man made diamond to be passed off as a natural diamond.
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