Q & A
Diamond also refers to diamond within the field of chemistry and industry. With the main component of carbon, it often contains small amounts of silicon, aluminum, calcium, magnesium, iron, nitrogen or boron. Diamond belongs to the isometric crystal system; each carbon atom develops strong covalent bonding with the other four carbon atoms, and crystals of diamonds are formed by carbon elements in an octahedral form.For its highest hardness (the Friedrich Mohs is up to 10), diamond is the hardest substance in nature, being called the “King of Hardness”.
Pure diamond is transparent and colorless. Small amounts of impurities will color diamond blue (boron) and yellow (nitrogen). Colorless diamonds are rare in nature, most of which are slightly yellow. Diamonds in nature were crystallizedatboth ultra-high temperatures (over 1500 ℃) and ultra-high pressures (above 50,000 atmospheres) in the earth, equivalent to the depth of 150~300 kilometers below the surface.
What about synthetic diamonds? Diamonds are successfully synthesized in the lab in the last century after countless failures for hundreds of years. Currently, there are two synthesis methods for gem diamonds, namely the High-Pressure, High-Temperature (HPHT) and the Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD).At present, about 90% of industrial diamonds have been replaced by synthetic diamonds (HPHT), and gem synthetic diamonds have also entered the market. In recent years, diamonds can be synthesized under low pressure with the Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD).The weight of a single diamond claimed to be up to 100 carats is quite competitive. The synthetic diamonds will boom on the market year by year as De Beershas begun to manufacture and sell them in 2018.
1.What is Lab. Grown Diamonds? What is synthetic diamonds? What's the distinction with natural diamonds?
Diamonds are successfully synthesized in the lab in the last century after countless failures for hundreds of years. Currently, there are two synthesis methods for gem diamonds, namely the High-Pressure, High-Temperature (HPHT) and the Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD).
They are diamonds grown artificially in a laboratory that simulates the growth of natural diamonds under high temperature and high pressure in the earth's crust.
They are crystallized through artificially syntheticmethod, including the High-Pressure, High-Temperature (HPHT) and the Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD), being called “Lab. Grown Diamond” in the diamond identification.
Synthetic Diamond vs Natural Diamond:
Not only appearance and composition but also physical and chemical properties of synthetic diamond are as the same as those of natural ones. The difference lies in the way they grow: natural diamonds are mined from the earth but lab. grown diamonds are created in the stimulating growth of natural diamonds in the lab, which can’t be distinguished by eyes or traditional instruments. If without high resolution instruments, synthetic diamond can stand out for more “perfect clarity” and “reasonable price”.
Please refer to the following diamond classification chart:
In July 2018, the FTC’s decision resoundingly rejected the arguments of De Beers’ lobbyists,instead choosing to side with science on the definition of a diamond — A crystal of carbon, regardless of subterrestrial or superterrestrial origin.
Here’s the FTC’s new definition: A diamond is a mineral consisting essentially of pure carbon crystallized in the isometric system.
The FTC justified their change as follows:
The final Guides therefore eliminate the word “natural” from the diamond definition. When the Commission first used this definition in 1956, there was only one type of diamond product on the market — natural stones mined from earth. Since then, technological advances have made it possible to create diamonds in a laboratory. These stones have essentially the same optical, physical, and chemical properties as mined diamonds. Thus, they are diamonds.
The distinctions between these lab-created diamonds and mined stones are addressed elsewhere in the Guides. Since it is no longer correct to define diamonds as “natural,” the final Guides do not include “natural” in the diamond definition.
There is no such thing as synthetic gold.
There is no such thing as synthetic platinum.
There is no such thing as synthetic carbon.
There is no such thing as synthetic diamond.
In light of the new guidance from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Diamond Producers Association may consider changing the slogan from "Real diamonds" to "Carbon crystals are diamonds, regardless of origin".
[Conclusion]: Lab-created diamonds have essentially the same optical, physical, and chemical properties as mined diamonds. Thus, they are diamonds.
2. What is CVD diamonds? What is HPHT diamonds?
Chemical Vapor Deposition Diamond
Microwave Plasma-assistedChemical Vapor Deposition Diamond is called DVD diamonds as crystal of carbon is crystallized for a long time in a vacuum and high temperature (about 1000~5000℃ plasma) with methane (CH4) and hydrogen (H2) as raw materials.
It is called HPHT diamond as crystal of carbon is crystallized for a long time under high pressure and temperature (about 50,000 atmospheres, 1200 ~ 2000 ° C) with graphite as raw material and specific catalysts, such as iron, cobalt and nickel.
|Growth Principle||DVD Diamond||HPHT Diamond|
|Growth Method||Microwave Plasma-assisted Chemical Vapor Deposition Diamond (MPCVD)||Grow under high temperature and high pressure (simulated growing elements of natural diamonds)|
|Products||Large monocrystal||Small monocrystal, glomerocryst|
|Impurity||Almost none||Metal catalyst|
|Service life of tools||2 to 5 (Depend on application)||1|
|Consistence of performance||High (consistence)||Medium|
|Supply consistency||High (demand) & fewer suppliers||High (demand) & many suppliers|
|Technical weight||Suitable for >1ct (carat)||0.01~1ct (Unsuitable for large size/high cost)|
|Cost (US$/ct)||High($1000-2000)||Low-medium ($200 –700)|
3. What are conflict diamonds? What are blood diamonds?
It is a term used for diamonds mined in war-torn zones and sold to the market.
South Africa, such as Sierra Leone, Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the sources for the world’s most beautiful diamonds. Unfortunately, in the 1990s, rival regimes fought for control, which resulted in blood conflicts.Diamonds are smuggledfor exchanging weapons to support civil wars. Years of wars and conflictsled to heavy casualties and the death of innocent people, including women and children.
Conflict diamonds are defined by the United Nations as diamonds thatare from regions under the control of force or organizations that are against legitimate or internationally recognized governments with the investment of high profits and money earned from selling diamondsinto armed conflict that is anti-government or against the spirit of the Security Council. It is also called blood diamonds.
4. What are memorial diamonds?
Carbon obtained from organics of human or animal remains or other memorial objects as samples are converted to methane and other alkanes through special process. Then the carbon atoms are converted into diamonds through the crystal growing systems under high temperature.
In terms of commercial application, carbon extracted from organic matters in human, pet hair or bone ashes is used as individual DNA, which is converted into diamond crystal by stimulating the stringent growth environment of natural diamond and under ultra-high temperature (vacuum or ultra-high temperature) for a long time with the high-tech and special crystal growth technique. With individual DNA, memorial diamond expresses specific memory and meaning, representing forever. How globally unique and valuable it is!
The meaningful diamond is particularly called Imprint Diamond, realizing “The Diamond is Forever”.
5. How to distinguish "natural diamonds" from "lab. grown diamonds"?
There are three main differences between natural diamonds and lab.grown diamonds: time, place and composition.
- "Time":refers to the time when diamonds grow. It takes thousands of years to crystallize several centimeters in the earth for natural diamonds, and it only takes a few decades to crystallize for lab. grown diamond.
- "Place": the depth of 150 to 300 kilometers below the surface is required for natural diamonds, however, the appropriate conditions in the lab can facilitate lab. grown diamonds.
- "Composition": Diamonds are mainly made of carbon, with small amounts of silicon, aluminum, calcium, magnesium, iron, nitrogen or boron. With the main composition of carbon, lab. grown diamonds can be added with other elements based on the needs. For example, the nitrogen colors lab. grown diamonds yellow, and boron colors it blue. Generally, lab. grown diamond is purifier than natural diamond for less impurity.
A.Distinguish "Natural Diamond" and "Lab. Grown Diamonds" by Raman Spectroscopy
Jewelers and consumers are faced with the issue of how to distinguish natural diamonds from lab. grown diamonds as the fierce competition and the price drop due to the mature technology development of lab. grown diamond. As a non-destructive analysis, Raman Spectroscopy can also distinguish natural diamonds from lab. grown diamonds.
How does Raman Spectroscopy distinguish natural diamonds from lab.grown diamonds?
Generally, natural diamond has a fluorescence peak of N3 (figure 1), and synthetic diamond has a defect peak of Si (CVD, figure 2) and a defect peak of Ni (HPHT, figure 3), Additionally, some specific fluorescence peaks can be adopted to distinguish natural diamonds from lab. grown diamonds.
Natural diamond,figure 1
CVD, figure 2
HPHT, figure 3
B. Diamond test instruments on the market
The commonly used UV-Visible Spectrometer, Fourier-transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) and Raman Spectroscopy for testing diamonds on the market are briefly introduced as follows:
- Ultraviolet-visible Spectroscopy: refers to a method to study the relative the absorption intensity of diamonds by using the continuous spectrum as the light source inthe ultraviolet-visible spectral region.The data of Ultraviolet-visible Spectroscopy can be used to analyze the impurity (ion) in the diamond so as to further distinguish natural diamonds from lab. grown diamond. However, liquid nitrogen is required to cool white diamonds for collecting signals due to its insensitivity to them.
- Fourier-transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR): according to different absorption spectrum of molecule vibration, it can analyze functional groups in samples.In terms of diamonds analysis, Fourier-transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) can not only judge the nitrogen quantityin diamonds (Type I and Type II), but also can distinguish between natural diamondsand CVD diamondsthrough the position of hydrogen absorption peak. It is difficult to obtain good signals to tell source of diamonds due to the smallness, roughness or darkness of diamonds.
- Raman Spectroscopy: sensing inelastic scattering spectrum generated by the molecular vibration of samples, Raman Spectroscopy can detect the fluorescence due to impurities and defects. The advantages of Raman spectroscopy in distinguishing between natural diamonds and lab. grown diamonds are that it is beyond the polishing, size and cooling of diamonds, etc.
• Theincreasing awareness of environmental protection and the consideration of price will seen the rising of lab. grown diamonds on the market year by year, bringing about the distinction between lab. grown diamonds and natural diamonds. How to distinguish them by means of instruments has been introduced. At present, maturely developed technology can be divided into two types, namely simple and professional. Please refer to professional websites: www.wec-raman.com
The mission of serving as a basis for judging diamonds for jewelers and consumers in the future, reducing consumer disputes.
>Recommended WEC productsWEC Raman Checker video
6.Is lab. grown diamonds value-preserving?
It is regarded that the value preservation ofspan style="color: #960002; font-weight: bold;">lab. grown diamonds is comprehensively greater than (>) natural diamond.
There are two types of value preservation: one is “pricing” and the other is priceless and irreplaceable.
An example of explaining the greater value preservation of lab.grown diamonds:
Two young couples (Couple A and Couple B)who are about to get married have $10,000 USD for buying diamondsfrom the limited marriage fund.
A couple will buy 1 carat of natural diamond with $10,000 USD
B couple who will spend $3,000 USD to buy 1 carat of laboratory diamond, and they got some balanced of budget for their honeymoon and for their investment.
How valuable they will be for Couple A and Couple B after 10 years?
Value preservation fromthe price list:/span>
Lab. grown diamondsare real diamonds that preserve value just like natural diamonds. At present, lab. grown diamonds are not as valuable as natural diamonds becausetheir production and marketing mechanismis not planned and speculated artificially likethat of natural diamonds which have resulted in rarity and monopoly. However, the mature production and marketing mechanism of lab. grown diamonds in the future will facilitate their own market value.
Replaceable value with intangible price list:
The essence of lab. grown diamonds is reasonable price; its characteristic isindividuality and customization.
Reasonable price expresses joy and happiness. It isn’t unattainable and unaffordable.
Customization creates the uniqueness and individuality, unlike natural diamonds
Lab. grown diamonds can be“priceless"!
7.Will the existence of lab. grown diamonds impact the market of natural diamonds?
The answer is: it definitely affects the market of natural diamonds.
Consumers will find natural diamonds unaffordable for high prices due to highly mining costs.
Conversely, the current cost of lab. grown diamond is only 30~40%of that of natural diamonds. The breakthrough and commercialization of technology in recent years will makeexpected market prices reasonable.
In addition, well-known manufacturers and large enterprises have contributed and promoted:
Royal Asscher, a five-generation retailer with traditional diamond cutting, launched the "Rebel Chique Diamonds" brand in 2013 to sell laboratory synthetic diamonds.
With an ambition of entering the diamond market, Swarovski launched the "DIAMA" brand in the U.S. market in 2016, kicking offthe selling of lab.Grown diamonds.
Breaking its promise of not involving in laboratory diamonds, De Beers also announcedto establish the "LightBox"- an exclusive for laboratory synthetic diamonds in 2018.
Lab. grown diamonds are expected to grow to 56%, equivalent to 55 million carats, by 2050, about USD $36.72 billion at current market prices.
8. What are the advantages of lab. grown diamonds?
Environmental protection, non-blood and conflict free diamond:
exploiters for sweated labour of the mine; the minimal impact on the environment, non-pollution.
Excellent quality and reasonable price:
Lowmining cost and less efforts, the high purity (compare with natural diamonds) (Type IIa), more cost-effective.
The market price of lab. grown diamonds ranges from 30%~ 40% of natural diamonds.
The "higher quality4C" and "larger size" optionsat the same budget.
Individuality and Customization:
Individuality and customization meets people.Lab. grown diamonds can be designed to be personalized.
It can also be given personal traits and elements of DNA, such as the birth of memorial diamonds.
Lab.grown diamonds can be made into ones with highpurity crystal of carbon, being called "high-purity diamonds", which can be applicable to:
The new generation of semiconductors andphotoelectric components, such as high-end CPU, quantum computers, communications, sensors anddiode...etc.
The new generation of high-end weapons, such as laser cannons, aircrafts with air superiority (F-22/F-35), outer space vehicles and satellites...etc.
Highly efficientcooling system, scar free scalpel, highly precise diamond tools, wear resistant elements, artificial joints, acid and alkali resistant valves, Windows as well as water resources and wastetreatment...etc.
Most importantly, lab. grown diamonds can be mass-produced. The expected quantity and controlled quality is applicable to the high-tech fields, creating a betterlife.