For the longest time, whether natural diamonds are superior to synthetic or lab-grown diamonds has been one big subject of contention for many years, especially with the proponents of the lab-grown or synthetic diamonds claiming that these diamonds can be superior to mine, natural, or real diamonds.
So, in this article, we’ll help settle this debate once and for all. Wondering how we plan to do this? We will share facts about the features and processes that make these two types of diamonds different and somewhat similar.
So, let’s get right into it and learn all you need to know about synthetic diamonds.
What are synthetic diamonds?
As the name suggests, synthetic diamonds refer to the diamonds that are artificially created in the lab or man-made diamonds that man creates, and not the real or natural diamonds that occur naturally on the earth.
But even as the diamonds are made in the labs, the synthetic diamonds are complete copies or replicas of the mined, natural diamonds, in all aspects, including their chemical, physical, crystal structure, and optical elements. And so, in the most fundamental sense, synthetic diamonds look and feel exactly like natural diamonds.
Both types of diamonds are also available in various shapes and sizes. If you had two diamonds in front of you, one natural and the other synthetic, you wouldn’t be able to differentiate these two stones at first glance.
And these stones not only look the same, but they also have precisely the same chemical structures, which is why it is virtually impossible to differentiate the two.
Also, it is essential to note that synthetic diamonds are actually real rather than fake diamonds, although they are not wholly similar to natural diamonds.
Naturally, you are wondering about the main differences between these two types of diamonds, especially with the knowledge that they look the same. Yours may be a synthetic diamond and not a natural mined one. As these questions linger, we’ll take a deeper dive into the world of synthetic diamonds.
MOHS Hardness Scale of synthetic diamonds
Although they are said to be just like natural diamonds, there are apparent differences between the diamonds, with their hardness levels being a common difference between them.
This difference is very small – 9.6 on the hardness scale, against 10 for the natural diamond, the hardest substance or mineral ever discovered. The synthetic diamonds are infused either on the surface or to the core with the lab-made diamond material with a hardness of 9.6, but after the infusion, most of the diamonds made in the lab end up with a hardness of 8.8.
And so, in many ways, the synthetic stone, also called a hybrid diamond stone, is just as hard or even harder than the natural colored gemstones like sapphires, rubies, and emeralds.
The Mohs scale of hardness was discovered in the 19th Century by Friedrich Mohs. This scale is used to grade minerals based on how hard they are, or rather, their ability to scratch other minerals.
So, the softest minerals rated on the Mohs scale cannot scratch any material above it on the hardness scale. In contrast, the hardest mineral can scratch all other minerals and materials considered hard.
Diamond is the hardest material, and it scores a 10 on the Mohs scale. It can scratch Corundum but cannot be scratched by Corundum or any other material.
Synthetic Diamonds Making Process
Natural diamonds come to life after being in formation beneath the earth’s surface for millions or even billions of years, during which they are exposed to very high pressure and temperature conditions that convert 4 carbon atoms into diamonds.
So, to create synthetic diamonds that look exactly like the mined, natural diamonds, it makes sense to want to simulate the production process of the natural diamonds but in the lab.
HPHT (High Pressure, High Temperature)
HPHT is the commonly used method in producing synthetic diamonds in the lab. This means that the equipment used mimics the high pressure and extremely high conditions of the natural diamonds, but perhaps even higher to quickly create synthetic diamond crystals. This process results in diamond crystals with cube and octahedral-faced and flat bases.
Technological improvements have led to the creation of synthetic diamonds in different colors. So, you no longer have clear or colorless diamonds but also orange, yellow, yellow-orange, blue, and near-colorless diamonds.
Besides HPHT, there are many other treatments the diamonds undergo post-growth, and so you may also find pink and blue diamonds, among others.
CVD (Chemical Vapor Disposition)
This is the second method used to create diamonds in the lab. It involves the breakdown of the carbon-containing gasses, crystallizing the remnant carbon atoms and molecules into diamond seed plates.
The breakdown takes place in a vacuum chamber, and the resultant crystals that are tubular-shaped can also be edged with graphite molecules.
To turn near-colorless, the yellow or brown crystals have to be subjected to the HPHT treatment. After, the CVD colorless diamonds are selected for polishing and use or classification as gems.
In most cases, these colorless diamonds are priced even higher than the natural diamonds, with most graded in the VS1 and VVS2 ranges. Most natural diamonds are graded VS2-SI1 for clarity range. So, if you are looking for diamonds with the highest degree of clarity, you may have to settle on lab-created diamonds.
MOHS Hardness Scale of natural diamonds
Are synthetic diamonds as hard as natural diamonds?
They are hard, but not as hard as the real diamonds – often, the difference is a 9.8 or 9.6 hardness level versus the 10 hardness level for the natural diamonds.
Although mined or natural diamonds and synthetic diamonds look the same in their physical, chemical, optical, and crystalline structures, they slightly differ in hardness level.
In most cases, synthetic diamonds must be treated for the desired color.
Tiger is a fashion&jewelry lover. He is also a fashion jewelry manufacturer that help thousands of small business to grow and also do business with some big fashion jewelry brands. He is a truly metal expert and he will share some information you are looking for.