What is a Synthetic Diamond?

What is a Synthetic Diamond?

Most people know what a Diamond is. It certainly means different things to different people. But I am starting to get questioned on Synthetic Diamonds.

So, a Diamond is formed by nature and found by man. It is crystallised carbon forming in the Cubic Crystallographic System and is often millions and even billions of years old formed in the bowels of the Earth. It has its own unique set of physical and optical properties that are understood very well.

[Image #1 - Natural Diamond Crystal]

A Synthetic Diamond is all the above, with one exception. It is formed in a laboratory by man, not formed by nature within the Earth. It is the same chemical composition and basically the same physical and optical properties as its natural counterpart. They are real Diamonds, not ‘fakes’, but they are not the same as natural Diamonds.

[Image#2 - Factory Floor for Synthetic Diamonds]

Synthetic means that the item is involving synthesis of compounds formed through a chemical process by a human agency, as opposed to those of natural origin. You can have synthetic fibres/textiles, synthetic vitamins and the list goes on.

Coloured Gemstones such as Sapphire, Ruby etc have been made synthetically for well over 100 years. They are commonly accepted and very inexpensive with the process producing large amounts of the material very cheaply. Unfortunately, Diamond isn’t as easily produced.

[Image #3 - Press for making Synthetic Diamond]

Scientists have known that they needed to create a huge amount of heat & pressure to Carbon to form a Diamond. But figuring out how to do it has been a long road. General Electric was the first in the 1950’s that managed to build a device that could do just that, and the early synthetics were born under High Pressure and High Temperature, HPHT for short. This acronym is still used today. They were Synthetic Diamond, but expensive to produce, and the results were not gem quality. Synthetic Diamonds have been produced for industry since the 1950’s, for telecommunications, abrasives and many more.

[Image #4 - Uncut CVD Diamond]

[Image #5 - Uncut Synthetic Diamond]

Over the next 50 years the process was refined. In the 1970’s General Electric produced its first Gem Quality crystals and by the 1990’s Synthetic Diamonds were being produced more economically. The quality of Synthetic Diamonds has continued to improve to a point now where beautiful white and bright Synthetic Stones are commercially produced. They can now rival high-quality natural Diamonds in appearance. As the supply and demand have improved, so has the price of the Synthetic material. The price of the Synthetic Diamond has slowly come down, but it is still not a cheap item. It certainly is a lessor expense compared to its Natural counterpart.

[Image #6 - Synthetic Diamond Ring]

[Image #7 - Synthetic Diamond Ring]

To the lay-persons eye, you will not be able to discern any difference. As a trained Diamond Technician/Valuer it can sometimes be still very difficult to confirm Synthetic. Sometimes it is easy & sometimes I only get a clue, but the only way to confirm if we are unsure is to do higher Gemmological testing.

Synthetic Diamonds can still be Certified, and quality stones should always be accompanied by a Laboratory Grown Diamond Report issued by a Quality Laboratory.

[Image #8 - GIA Certificate]

A lot of clients are looking at bigger carat stones. They say the 2ct is the new 1ct! So Synthetic material is often a choice with good financial outcomes. At the end of the day, whether to purchase a Natural or Synthetic Diamond is a very personal choice.

But as the song says… “Diamonds, are a girl’s best friend”.


· Image #1 … [google images/shutterstock.com]

· Image #2 … [google images/jewellermagazine.com]

· Image #3 … [google images/mygemologist.com]

· Image #4 … [google images/4cs.gia.edu.com]

· Image #5 … [google images/gia.edu.com]

· Image #6 … [google images/ gia.edu.com]

· Image #7 … [google images/ gia.edu.com]

· Image #8 … [google images/ 4cs.gia.edu.com]

· Text … General excerpts from 4cs.gia.edu/en-us/synthetic-diamond

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