Synthetic diamonds vs real (natural) diamonds
Choosing the perfect loose diamond for a custom piece, or selecting the piece of diamond jewelry that is just right for your special someone is a very personal decision. You may already be wondering about the cut, clarity, color, carat size, and more about a diamond – and we can help you understand all of that.
Another common discussion point surrounds the differences between natural diamonds and manufactured (man-made) diamonds, so we wanted to share some major distinctions with you.
Nature creates natural diamonds
Beautiful natural diamonds are formed from the extreme heat and pressure of the Earth. They need to be mined from kimberlite pipes of ancient volcanoes and are found deep underground.
Fun fact: Natural diamonds can realistically be up to three billion years old. So, it’s conceivable that when you purchase a natural diamond, it can be the oldest object you have ever touched!
Nothing is infused into a natural diamond.
Man-made diamonds are produced
Synthetic diamonds, also referred to as lab-grown, lab-created, man-made, cultured, and engineered diamonds are created in highly controlled laboratories by machines that elicit extreme pressure and heat to mimic the Earth’s mantle.
There are two manual diamond creation processes:
- high-pressure high-temperature (HPHT) process
- chemical vapor disposition (CVD) process
Each process starts with a diamond fragment, also called a ‘seed diamond.’
The HPHT process heats the seed diamond to 2732 degrees F (1500 degrees C) and pressurizes the chamber to about 1.5 million pounds per square inch.
The CVD process heats the seed diamond to 1472 degrees F (800 degrees C) and fills the chamber with carbon-rich gas – this process, in effect, grows a diamond carbon atom by atom.
Since synthetic diamonds are created using diamond fragments, they have the same optical and chemical properties as natural diamonds.
The reason we have synthetic diamonds
Diamonds are an extremely hard substance with an ability to conduct heat. These attributes led to diamonds being involved in the manufacturing of cars, airplanes, cell phones, and more.
Because natural diamonds are so rare, and the need for them so vast, it was imperative to build the technology to manufacture synthetic diamonds – and that started in the 1950s.
By 1971, the technology had been perfected and gem-quality yellow diamonds began to be lab grown.
Commercial quantities of colorless lab-grown diamonds appeared in 2012.
Only natural diamonds retain, or increase, their value
As mentioned, the quantity of natural diamonds is finite; their rarity makes them inherently valuable and something that can be handed down through the family tree to be cherished by generations. Over the past 35 years, natural diamonds have appreciated by about 3% in price each year.
The costs to mass produce lab-grown diamonds continually declines, making them much less valuable. Synthetic diamonds can be produced within a few weeks, but there isn’t any way to infuse what nature uniquely includes in natural diamonds.
One-of-a-kind natural diamonds have been the ultimate symbol of love since 1477, when Archduke Maximilian of Austria proposed to his love, Mary of Burgundy with a diamond engagement ring.
Like snowflakes and fingerprints, each natural diamond is unique from all others; unlike mass-produced lab-created diamonds.
All the loose diamonds we carry are grown in nature
Gary J. Long Jewelers maintains a varied selection of loose natural diamonds – from ½ a carat to 3 carats, in numerous cuts – to choose from. Stop on today and we’ll be happy to help you make the best selection!