The Rise of the Lab-Grown Diamond: Is It Real?

The diamond is known as the most precious of gems throughout the globe. For centuries, the diamond has been the gem worn by the wealthiest of citizens, being a representation of class and status. In more recent years, lab-grown diamonds have entered the world of diamonds and have brought many questions with them. 

The biggest question in regard to a lab-grown diamond is whether the diamond is real or not. The answer is a resounding yes, and lab-grown diamonds prove to be genuine for various reasons.

When Was the Diamond Born? 

The first diamonds are estimated by scientists to have been formed around three billion years ago, deep in the earth’s crust. However, diamonds were not discovered by humans until the fifteenth century in India. 

Quickly becoming a precious commodity, diamonds were worn by India’s wealthy class. With any precious and rare resource, there exists a limited quantity. Therefore, wealthy classes throughout history have donned diamonds because of their rarity and limited quantities.

Thanks to medieval markets in Europe, diamonds made their way to the jewelry of the European elite. Unfortunately, due to high demand and low supply, diamonds in Europe became more difficult to locate and purchase. With the rise in interest in discovering diamonds, the country of Brazil quickly rose to be the main supplier of natural diamonds when miners discovered the precious gem while searching for gold. For 150 years, Brazil became the dominant supplier of natural diamonds.

The popularity of diamonds fell with the structure of France during the French Revolution in the eighteenth century when the ruling class declined and distribution of wealth increased. However, history repeated when diamonds were discovered in South Africa in the 19th century, and diamonds rose to fame once again. The discovery of diamonds in South Africa marked the beginning of the modern diamond industry.

With time, diamond mining moved further underground, and with its move came advancements in technology as well as the progression and refinement of the booming diamond industry. This progression and refinement was marked by more efficient mining methods and diamond refinement as well. In the 19th century, the production of natural diamonds was under one million carats.

By the 1990s, the production of natural diamonds shot up to over 100 million carats due to the steadily increasing discovery of diamond hot spots. These discoveries were the product of deep research and study into the origin and formation of diamonds which allowed scientists to predict where in the world diamonds were forming.

From Dirt to Diamonds 

Diamonds require one element to be formed, and this element is carbon. Pure carbon is a dull, nonmetal element that can be compared to the appearance of graphite, a different form of carbon. How can a dull gray material turn into a clear, radiant diamond? The critical components of diamond formation are heat, pressure, and magma.

The process of diamond formation begins deep under the earth’s crust. Immense heat and pressure cause carbon atoms to crystallize, forming a diamond. If a diamond is formed miles under the ground, then how are diamonds brought to the surface? The answer is magma. 

In addition to diamonds, magma is also found deep under the earth’s surface. Magma is a molten natural material that is commonly known to erupt from volcanoes. When a diamond is formed, the heat under the earth’s surface causes magma to erupt, and the newly formed diamonds travel in the magma. 

Because the magma travels at a high speed, it naturally follows a path of little resistance. This phenomenon causes pathways for magma to pass through known as “pipes” to form where the diamonds travel.

Because natural diamond formation is not guaranteed to be consistent, not every diamond is a gem-quality diamond. Some diamonds are too small, and some diamonds have too many blemishes and inclusions. Inclusions are blemishes in diamonds that affect their clarity and transparency. 

One in 200 pipes actually carries gem-quality diamonds. This inconsistency has led to issues in the production and distribution of diamonds which has increased the need for the discovery of more areas where diamonds are formed.

The Birth of the Lab-Grown Diamond 

With the time-defying popularity and demand for diamonds, natural diamond production ebbed and flowed. Because natural diamond formation was inconsistent, it was difficult to produce large, gem-quality diamonds in order to keep up with the demand for the precious gem. The solution to this problem was the lab-grown diamond.

In order to create a lab-grown diamond, scientists needed to thoroughly and deeply research the natural formation of diamonds. Though seemingly simple, the natural formation of diamonds requires the correct amount of heat and pressure, a natural process that was difficult to replicate. 

When the key component of diamonds, carbon, was discovered in the late eighteenth century, scientists were scrambling to create the perfect, lab-grown diamond. Unfortunately, none of these individuals were successful in replicating the process that, at that time, only nature was able to create and perfect.

The year 1954 marked perhaps the biggest turning point in the diamond industry when General Electric Company created the first lab-grown diamond. General Electric Company conducted this project under the name “Project Superpressure” for obvious reasons. 

The process of creating these diamonds involved a high-pressure belt press that dissolved graphite in different types of metals. These diamonds were confirmed to be genuine when they broke the scientists’ metal instruments.

Though a historically significant invention, these lab-made diamonds were not gem-quality. Gem-quality diamonds are of proper size and clarity. Unfortunately, many of these diamonds were far too small and had a yellow hue, rendering them essentially useless. Thanks to the advancement in technology, research, and time, diamonds made in labs were made with better size and clarity and exceeded the quality of many naturally-formed diamonds.

The Process of Today for the Diamonds of Tomorrow 

There are two main methods of creating lab-grown diamonds: high-pressure high-temperature process, and chemical vapor deposition. Chemical vapor deposition is a more common method of growing diamonds, but the high-pressure high-temperature process is valuable as well. 

At Eterneva, this process is used to create a remarkable diamond to remember your loved one. Eterneva uses a custom seven-stage process to create the diamond that best represents your loved one.

  1. The first stage involves your Welcome Kit where you are given everything needed  to send us your loved one’s ashes (or hair) to begin the process of creating their diamond. This kit includes a personalized welcome video message, return postage, instructions, and a secure container for the ashes and/or hair.
  2. The second stage involves purifying your loved one’s ashes to the key component to creating a diamond: carbon. Though carbon exists in a person’s ashes, it requires ample time to extract this element. The result is carbon graphite powder.
  3. The third and most intricate stage is when your loved one’s ashes are transformed into an incredible diamond. This process takes between two to three months where the natural diamond forming process is replicated. The reason for this lengthy process is due to the unique structure of your loved one’s ashes. Each person’s ashes are different, and our scientists use this uniqueness to create a diamond with the most optimal amount of heat and pressure. 
  4. Stage four is where we thoroughly assess the quality of your new diamond. The raw diamond is tested for clarity and overall quality. Because we know how valued your loved one is, we take the necessary time to ensure that your diamond is of the highest quality possible.
  5. Once your diamond passes the test, the fifth stage commences. A master cutter will cut your diamond into a shape that will beautifully reflect light and create a masterpiece. 

The sixth and seventh stages of the seven-stage journey to your perfect diamond are known as the finishing touches. These stages include coloration (based on your selection), grading and engraving the diamond, and setting the diamond in a custom jewelry piece. 

We know that the time spent with your loved one was, and is, precious, and we take the time to create the highest quality diamond possible so that you know how much we value your loved one and you as well.

The Everlasting Value of the Lab-Grown Diamond

At Eterneva, we replicate the natural diamond forming process with care, precision, and your interests in mind. Eterneva is dedicated to the humane and ethical production of personal, hand-crafted diamonds that make amazing memorial jewelry that will carry on the memory of the one you love for a lifetime. 

Sources

Diamond History and Lore | GIA

A Brief History of Lab-Grown Diamonds | Gem Society

What are ‘conflict diamonds?’ | CNN

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