What is the difference between real diamonds and synthetic diamonds?
A synthetic diamond looks and feels like a natural diamond
For the first time in 130 years, De Beers will be selling synthetic diamonds for a tenth of the price. To the naked eye, a synthetic diamond and a real diamond might look similar, but the two have a few different characteristics. Natural or real diamonds were formed around 150km-200km below the earth’s crust over 3 billion years ago, while synthetic, lab-grown diamonds are created by man. It took extensive research and multiple scientists to develop an alternative to natural diamonds. Here’s a look at the comparison between a natural diamond and a synthetic diamond:
WHAT IS A SYNTHETIC DIAMOND?
Unlike a natural diamond, a synthetic diamond is made in a lab
A synthetic diamond, also known as a man-made diamond, is created in a lab. The diamond is often described as a complete copy of a natural diamond since the same methods and procedures were used to recreate the synthetic diamond; a synthetic diamond contains the same crystal lattice structure as a natural diamond. The only remarkable difference between the two is that natural diamonds are actually more than 3.3 billion years old, making the gemstone extremely special and one of a kind.
HOW ARE SYNTHETIC DIAMONDS MADE?
A synthetic diamond is formed through a chemical vapour deposition
The way in which a synthetic diamond is created is less significant than the origins of a natural diamond. Natural diamonds are mined around the world through alluvial -, pipe -, and marine mining using different types of machinery and equipment. Synthetic diamonds are man-made in a lab; a scientist will place the element carbon under high-pressure and high-temperature to form a diamond crystal. Another way to form a synthetic diamond would be through a chemical vapour deposition. During this process, a scientist will take a small seed of a diamond crystal and grow it layer by layer in a chamber.
IS A SYNTHETIC DIAMOND MORE EXPENSIVE?
Just like a natural diamond, a synthetic diamond can also vary in clarity and colour
Depending on the size, colour and clarity; a lab-grown diamond can be up to 20-40% less expensive than a natural diamond. The price might differ if a lab-grown diamond is D-F in colour. In this case, even though the diamond is man-made, it is still rare and could be just as expensive as an earth mined diamond.
De Beers, however, announced that they will offer affordable lab-grown diamonds to the public under synthetic-diamond technology company, Lightbox. “Lightbox will transform the lab-grown diamond sector by offering consumers a lab-grown product they have told us they want but aren’t getting: affordable fashion jewellery that may not be forever, but is perfect for right now,” said Bruce Cleaver, chief executive officer of De Beers.
HOW CAN YOU IDENTIFY A SYNTHETIC DIAMOND?
A GIA certificate will indicate if a diamond is man-made
In order to identify a natural diamond from a synthetic diamond, you need to use specialised equipment. The nature of inclusions in a natural diamond differs from the types of inclusions found in a synthetic diamond. Not all inclusions are easily visible through the naked eye or by using a loupe. The best way to find out if the diamond is natural or synthetic is to ask the jeweller for a grading report. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) will indicate on the grading report if the diamond is synthetic.
WHERE WOULD YOU BE ABLE TO FIND A SYNTHETIC DIAMOND?
Most jewellers would be able to source synthetic diamonds directly from the labs
When it comes to lab-grown diamonds most jewellers would be able to source the diamonds direct from the laboratories. The process usually works the same, for example, if you would like to design an engagement ring you can ask for a synthetic diamond to be placed in the centre of the band.
ARE LAB-GROWN DIAMONDS FAKE?
A synthetic diamond’s chemical structure is exactly the same as a natural diamond
Even though the origins of a synthetic diamond is different when it comes to the origins of a natural diamond the structure still remains the same. Therefore, scientists believe a lab-grown diamond still counts as a real diamond; the physical properties and chemical composition of a synthetic diamond are the same as a natural diamond. But keep in mind since an Earth mined diamond is nature’s form of art, the one of a kind gemstone still remains a woman’s best friend.
When it comes to synthetic diamonds and natural diamonds the structure might be the same. But, the remarkable beauty and character of a natural diamond are the fact that is was formed billions of years ago. It’s also incredible to know that the gemstone was made 150km-200km below the Earth’s crust. In the end, it’s more than just a gemstone, it’s the incredible journey a diamond had to go through before reaching your ring finger.