Natural v's Cultured Diamonds

Natural v's Cultured Diamonds

 Image features Natural Diamonds (uncut and in the raw)

 "We are noticing a shift, a changing of the guards so to speak. As more and more young couples opt for ‘ethically sourced’ diamonds as an option for their engagement rings, we jewellers have to meet the market, and lab-grown or cultured diamonds are hitting that market fast.

Historically, De Beers controlled the diamond market by monopolizing diamond mining and tightly regulating the supply, keeping prices high. They achieved this through their "single channel" marketing strategy, where they stockpiled diamonds and released them strategically to maintain price stability.

With the advent of lab-grown diamonds, the diamond market is undergoing significant change. Lab-grown diamonds are typically much cheaper to produce and buy, and their increasing popularity is challenging the traditional diamond market. This shift could drive natural diamond prices down and force companies like De Beers to adapt by incorporating lab-grown diamonds into their offerings or altering their business models. The increased availability and affordability of lab-grown diamonds might democratize diamond ownership and change consumer perceptions about diamond value and origin.

I have found there are two main market clientele, and they know just what they want (which makes my life that much easier) and with little convincing on my behalf, so here is a great read if you want to get educated about the differences between Lab-grown's or Natural Diamonds, so you can make an educated choice when purchasing your next Diamond: 1. A natural 350 billion-year-old diamond blows my mind; something that old that has stood the test of time, withstood the pressure from the Earth's mantle, only to patiently wait to emerge by being expelled with the aid of a volcanic eruption!" (long story short) Or 2. an ethically Man-made traceable Lab- grown diamond.

Bottom line is, it comes down to money $$, traceability and sustainability.

"Lab-grown diamonds, Or Labbies' have essentially the same chemical, optical, and physical properties as natural diamonds, including their crystalline structure (see table below). They respond to light (refract) in the same way as natural diamonds and are equally as hard. The primary difference lies in their formation process. Natural diamonds have been formed deep within the Earth's mantle over billions of years through natural geological processes, while lab-grown diamonds are created in controlled laboratory environments using advanced technological methods. Despite their origin, both types of diamonds are visually indistinguishable to the naked eye and share many of the same characteristics, making lab-grown diamonds an ethical and sustainable alternative to mined diamonds."

I will always honor and respect the natural process of gem formation and as a Sapphire miner I know the raw energy that a natural Earth formed Sapphire gives off when you are the first human to ever touch it after Millions of years, it's indescribable.    

Read on for a more detailed description of:

Natural born Diamond...

  1. Formation of Carbon-Rich Environments: Natural diamonds begin their formation in carbon-rich environments deep within the Earth's mantle, around 100 miles or more below the surface.

  2. High Pressure and Temperature Conditions: In these environments, extreme heat and pressure, often exceeding 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and 725,000 pounds per square inch, respectively, are present. These conditions are necessary for the transformation of carbon into diamond.

  3. Crystallization Process: Carbon atoms undergo a process called crystallization, where they arrange themselves in a specific crystal lattice structure, forming diamond crystals.

  4. Transportation to the Surface: Over millions to billions of years, geological processes such as volcanic eruptions or deep-seated volcanic activity bring these diamond-bearing rocks, known as kimberlite or lamproite pipes, closer to the Earth's surface. These eruptions force the diamonds upward through the Earth's crust.

  5. Exposure to the Surface: Once near the Earth's surface, erosion and weathering gradually expose the diamond-bearing rocks, releasing the diamonds into the surrounding sediment or soil.

  6. Discovery and Mining: Geologists and diamond prospectors search for diamond deposits in areas where these rocks have been exposed. Mining operations are then conducted to extract the diamonds from the surrounding rock and sediment.

Overall, the process of natural diamond formation is a complex and lengthy one, spanning millions to billions of years, and involves the interplay of geological forces deep within the Earth's mantle and subsequent geological processes that bring the diamonds closer to the surface where they can be mined.

Lab-grown/ Cultured Diamond:

 

There are two primary methods for producing lab-grown diamonds:

  1. High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) Method:

    • Starting Material: A small diamond seed is placed in a carbon source.
    • Process: The seed is subjected to high temperatures (around 1500°C) and high pressures (about 1.5 million psi).
    • Growth: Under these conditions, carbon atoms from the source are deposited onto the diamond seed, growing it into a larger diamond over several days to weeks.
  2. Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) Method:

    • Starting Material: A thin slice of diamond seed is placed in a vacuum chamber.
    • Process: The chamber is filled with a carbon-rich gas, such as methane, and exposed to a microwave beam or hot filament to create a plasma.
    • Growth: The carbon atoms from the gas attach to the diamond seed, causing it to grow layer by layer. This process also takes several weeks.

Both methods result in diamonds that are chemically, physically, and optically identical to natural diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds can be used for jewellery and industrial applications, and their production is considered more sustainable and ethical compared to traditional mining.

 I hope this has helped clarify some questions you might have before you make your Diamond purchase.

 

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