Think of all the ways life has changed in the last 150 years. From medicine to machinery, advances in technology have impacted nearly every industry, helping people lead better lives by making the things we love more affordable. The gemstone world is no different. The explosion of treatments and methods for creating gemstones has made the possibility of owning fine gems and jewelry a reality for everyone. And lab-grown diamonds are no exception. 

Lab-grown diamonds are becoming more and more popular in the gemstone and fine jewelry world. After all, diamonds are one of our most highly prized treasures. We value them for their hardness and durability, along with  their sparkle and shine. However, there are many questions about the difference between lab-grown and mined diamonds.

FAQs about Lab-Grown Diamonds

What makes diamonds so popular as the perfect gemstone and gift?

Diamonds are unlike anything else on earth. No other gemstone is as eternally fascinating or as highly sought after. As the birthstone for April, diamond birthstone jewelry is a gift that keeps on giving, with its brilliance and durability.

All diamonds, whether mined or grown in a lab, are truly treasures. That's why JTV is proud to offer lab-grown diamonds to our customers.

Are lab-grown diamonds actually diamonds?

Some people wonder whether lab-grown diamonds are actual diamonds. The answer is yes! Lab-grown diamonds are chemically, optically, and physically the same as mined diamonds. The fact that we can grow them in a lab does not diminish them in any way.

What is the quality of lab-grown diamonds? Can you tell the difference?

The naked eye cannot tell the difference between lab-grown and mined diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds have the same brilliance, sparkle and properties as top-tier mined diamonds and can only be distinguished with tests using specialized equipment. The main difference between the two is their point of origin.

Speaking of their point of origin, let’s look back at the history of lab-grown diamonds to see how recent technologies have facilitated the creation of lab-grown diamonds for a fraction of the price. 

lab-grown diamond ring with flower motif

The History of Lab-Grown Diamonds

You may have heard a lot in the news lately about lab-grown diamonds, but did you know that their history dates all the way back to 1879? James Ballantyne Hannay made the first attempts to synthesize a diamond in a laboratory in 1879 by heating charcoal and iron in a carbon crucible.

Another pioneer may be a familiar name to you: Henri Moissan, the creator of synthetic moissanite! In 1893, Moissan used an electric arc furnace to try to simulate the pressure and temperature needed to turn graphite into diamonds.

two gold lab-grown diamond eternity bands

It wasn't until 1954, however, that General Electric achieved the first commercially successful creation of a diamond. At the time, this was considered a huge breakthrough, although the diamonds produced were a far cry from the white, bright, and sparkly lab diamonds of today. GE's synthetic diamonds were yellow or brown, opaque, and fairly small but unlike colored gemstones, even industrial quality diamonds are considered valuable because of their unique physical properties.

Diamonds are not only the hardest natural substance on the planet, but they are also excellent thermal conductors and electrical insulators. These lower-quality diamonds were used for a number of commercial purposes, including diamond saws, abrasive powders, lasers, x-ray machines and audio speakers.But when it came to the sparkle, the dance of the light, the characteristics that cause us to treasure diamonds, they fell sadly short.

For decades, scientists around the world strove to grow diamonds that would dazzle and dance their way into our hearts. Finally, we have succeeded. We can now grow diamonds that are clear and large and compelling. Some of these lab-created diamonds can weigh up to 10 carats and are sure to be showstoppers in any setting.

The Science Behind Lab-Grown Diamonds

We know that mined diamonds are formed under high temperature and high pressure deep within the earth, over millions or even billions of years. The process of growing an actual diamond in a lab is complex and technologically challenging and has almost as many variables as the earth-born process that yields mined diamonds. We cannot simply set a dial to determine size or color. 

General Electric was again at the forefront of lab-grown diamond technology in 1970, when they created the first gem-quality diamond in their lab. Since then, there are two main processes used to create lab-grown diamonds. One is High Pressure-High Temperature (HPHT) and the other is Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD).

What is High Pressure-High Temperature (HPHT)?

HPHT is an acronym for a process using High Pressure and High Temperatures. Using a belt press or a BARS apparatus (and sometimes a mined diamond as a seed), engineers replicate the extreme pressure and temperature conditions that occur deep in the mantle of the earth to form diamonds. The heat and pressure simulate conditions during a diamond's formation deep in the Earth, and can cause alterations in the diamond's crystal structure and resulting appearance. 

Whether a color change takes place, and what the change may be, depends on the particular nature of the diamond that is selected for treatment. Some diamonds become much whiter, while others may change to yellow, greenish-yellow, yellowish-green, blue, or pink. Nothing is added during the process, but changes in the diamond's structural arrangement result in the change of color. 

HPHT is used primarily on higher-clarity diamonds, since inclusions can cause weaknesses in the diamond and lead to severe damage during the treatment process. HPHT is also applied to many synthetically grown diamonds in order to improve their color. The resulting change in color is stable and permanent.

Lab-grown diamonds created from the high-pressure, high-temperature process, grow in a lab over a period of weeks or months, depending on the proprietary process used. As with the mined stones, HPHT diamonds are grown using intense pressure (175,000 psi) and extreme heat (2200° Fahrenheit).

colorless lab-grown diamond stud featured with colored lab-grown diamond studs, one in blue and one in pink

To get a sense of those levels, the deepest place on earth is the Mariana trench, in the Pacific Ocean. The pressure a person would experience standing on the ocean floor in the trench is equal to 45 elephants standing on your head. Multiply that by 100 (that's 4,500 elephants) and you have the amount of pressure needed to grow a diamond in a lab. 

Stated another way, it's the amount of pressure that the Eiffel Tower would exert if it were turned upside down and narrowed at its tip to fit on a postage stamp! 2200° Fahrenheit is equal to the hottest temperatures of molten lava. It's almost as much heat as a spacecraft experiences on re-entering the earth's atmosphere.

examples of five different styles of lab-grown diamond rings in yellow gold and silver settings

What is Chemical Vapor Deposition?

The second method was developed more recently, and is called chemical vapor deposition (CVD). Using a vacuum chamber, a hydrocarbon gas mixture is deposited onto a seed plate to grow a diamond. Through this process and over many steps, the temperature in the chamber is raised to 900° to 1200° C. Meanwhile, the gas mixture (reacting throughout the process) becomes a highly reactive carbon-hydrogen species. At the point when the temperature is raised, it travels across the diamond "seed" and deposits diamond material atom-by-atom, almost endlessly, again and again, until the crystal structure of the diamond is grown.

Do these processes create lab-grown diamonds of different quality?

Over the years, these processes have been refined so that the diamonds created in a laboratory have essentially the same optical, physical, and chemical properties as those mined from the earth. Lab-grown diamonds are actual diamonds that are difficult to distinguish from their mined counterparts without advanced gemological testing equipment found in a laboratory.

JTV’s Lab-Grown Diamond Jewelry

We pride ourselves on being one of the forerunners of the emergent lab-grown diamond industry. 

The lab-grown diamonds which we bring to our customers are eye clean and nearly colorless! These characteristics represent the upper echelon of diamond quality. Our lab-grown diamonds are featured in beautifully designed jewelry settings and our couture collection of rings, bracelets, pendants, and earrings will appeal to every jewelry lover. These pieces are sure to become treasured heirlooms for generations to come.

Our lab-grown diamond jewelry passes through strict quality control, involving several levels of verification and assessment before it is offered to our customers. 

What is the price of a lab-grown diamond compared to a mined diamond?

Lab-grown diamonds are an exceptional value and typically cost less than a mined diamond. They offer consumers significant savings with the flexibility to choose a larger diamond for their investment. The affordability provides an excellent opportunity for our customers to indulge themselves in top-quality diamond jewelry that will last forever.

four lab-grown diamond rings set in yellow gold

A Bright Future for Lab-Grown Diamonds

The lab-grown diamond industry has come a long way since the days of James Hannay and Henri Moissan. Today, manufacturers and scientists are able to create gem-quality, lab-grown diamonds which are virtually indistinguishable from their mined counterparts. In a 2019 survey given to JTV viewers , more than 54% of our customers were unable to correctly choose which diamond was lab-grown when displayed side-by-side with a mined diamond of similar quality. 

As the technology required to create diamonds in a lab continues to improve, JTV is excited to offer you both mined and lab-grown diamond jewelry at truly irresistible prices.