When most people think of the word “synthetic,” they think of an imitation. A fake. Something that only looks like the genuine article. But with synthetic diamonds, this is hardly the case. Synthetic diamonds are composed of exactly the same crystalline structure as geologically formed diamonds. Down to the molecular level, they’re the same thing, except one was made in a lab, and the other underground. And ultimately, does that really matter? We’re not talking about substitute materials here like cubic zirconium or other kinds of crystals, we’re talking about the same exact material in the same configuration. A synthetic diamond will shine just as bright as a geologically formed one, and will even look the same if examined with a high-powered microscope, because it’s the same thing, just formed in a different environment.
With that in mind, we’d like to talk a little bit about the fascinating ways in which lab-grown diamonds are made, as well as possible applications for them, including one you might not expect.
High Pressure, High Temperature
In this method of diamond creation, diamond “seeds” composed of a carbon source (often graphite) and metals is placed at the center of a device which presses on it from various angles with tremendous force while increasing temperature to incredibly high levels. The metal in the diamond seed melts, and dissolves the carbon source, eventually depositing it in the form of a crystalline structure—a diamond.
Chemical Vapor Deposition
With Chemical Vapor Deposition, a variety of chemical gases are released in very specific and controlled amounts in a particular configuration. If we tried to explain exactly how this process worked, we’d be here all day, but suffice to say that the various gases react with each other, eventually depositing carbon, in the form of diamond, within the chamber.
The most obvious use for lab-created diamonds is the same one that geologically formed diamonds are typically used for: decadent jewelry. Since lab-created diamonds are exactly the same substance as geologically formed ones, you’ll get that same sparkle and shine you expect from all diamonds, but for a fraction of the price, and without supporting questionable trade practices in the traditional diamond industry.
Keepsakes from the Dearly Departed
Did you know that you can have ashes from a cremated loved one turned into beautiful diamonds to remember them by? This is something you can’t get out of geologically formed diamonds, because an ash sample from your loved one has to be added as part of the creation process. It may not bring them back, but to have a part of someone you were close to converted into such a beautiful keepsake is certainly a fitting way to remember them.
If you take one thing away from this article, hopefully it’s that, down to the molecular level, lab created and geologically formed diamonds are identical material. Much of the time, the old adage, “you get what you pay for” is true. In this case…it’s simply not. Paying more for a better product makes sense, but why pay more for the same exact thing?