Lab-Made Diamonds: Everything A First Time Buyer Must Know

Diamonds began to rise in popularity and have been extensively mined since the late 1800s. At that time, no one could have imagined that one day we would develop the technology to create diamonds in laboratories that are ethical and indistinguishable from natural diamonds. However, that's exactly what has happened.

Starting in the mid-1900s, companies began manufacturing diamonds in labs for industrial purposes due to their excellent thermal conductivity and hardness. Even NASA recognized their value, incorporating lab-grown diamonds in satellites to withstand the intense heat of the atmosphere. Over time, there has been a shift to using lab-grown diamonds in fine jewelry, including engagement rings, wedding bands, earrings, necklaces, and bracelets.



How Are Lab Diamonds Made?

Thanks to technological advancements, two primary methods are now used to produce high-quality lab-grown diamonds: the High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) method and the Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) method.

The HPHT Diamond Creation Method

The HPHT method, which stands for high pressure and high temperature, replicates the natural environment where diamonds form deep within the Earth. Developed in the early 1950s, it has since been refined to produce high-quality gem-grade diamonds. In addition to growing diamonds, the HPHT method can enhance the color of lab-grown diamonds, making them colorless, pink, green, blue, or yellow.

The process starts with a small diamond seed, refined graphite carbon, and a catalyst made of various metals and powders—the same components that make up natural diamonds. The seed is placed in the center of the HPHT chamber and subjected to extreme heat (over 2,000°F) and pressure (around 1.5 million PSI), mimicking the natural diamond growth environment underground. As the carbon melts and changes its atomic structure, it forms a diamond around the seed. Once cooled, the diamond is ready.

There are three primary types of press designs used in the HPHT process:

Cubic Press: Typically used to create diamond powder for industrial purposes. It has six anvils that press onto a small cube, generating the pressure required for diamond growth.

Belt Press: The founding technology for growing diamonds. It uses two massive anvils that press together, creating the pressure needed for diamond formation. Though it can produce gem-quality diamonds, it's primarily used for industrial diamonds and diamond powder.

Bars Press: The most effective tool for producing gem-quality diamonds. It uses inner and outer anvils that apply hydraulic pressure to the growth cell inside the unit.



The CVD Diamond Creation Method

The Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) method is a more recent innovation in lab-grown diamond production. This method involves placing a diamond seed into a vacuum chamber filled with a carbon-rich gas, like methane. The chamber is then heated to temperatures of over 1,400°F, causing the gases to ionize and form a plasma. In this plasma state, carbon atoms are released from the gas molecules and begin to adhere to the diamond seed, layer by layer, gradually forming a diamond crystal.

One of the main advantages of the CVD process is the precision with which it can produce high-quality gem-grade diamonds with fewer impurities. This method also offers more control over the diamond's properties, allowing for the creation of diamonds with specific characteristics, such as particular shapes or enhanced color qualities. Additionally, CVD diamonds can undergo further treatment to improve color, making them suitable for a range of jewelry applications.



What Method for Lab Created Diamond is Better? HPHT vs. CVD

When comparing HPHT and CVD lab-grown diamonds, each method offers distinct advantages, making the choice between them dependent on individual preferences and needs. HPHT diamonds often boast higher clarity and a broader color range due to the high-pressure environment and additional color treatments. However, the intense conditions can sometimes result in metallic inclusions. On the other hand, CVD diamonds provide more control over growth, leading to fewer inclusions and better consistency in shape and quality. They also typically require additional post-growth treatments to enhance their color. Ultimately, both methods yield stunning diamonds that are virtually indistinguishable from mined stones, so the "better" choice comes down to the desired quality, specific characteristics, and budget considerations.



Tips for First-Time Diamond Buyers

First-time diamond buyers should approach their purchase with a clear understanding of their preferences and budget. This foundational step ensures that the chosen lab grown diamond aligns with their expectations and financial limits. Before diving into the diverse selection of lab-grown diamonds, consider the 4 Cs: carat weight, color, clarity, and cut.

Carat Weight

Carat weight measures the diamond's size and often has a significant impact on its price. Larger diamonds are generally more expensive, but the difference in size may not always be noticeable to the naked eye. It's worth comparing diamonds of varying carat weights to see which one best suits your aesthetic while aligning with your budget.


Color refers to the diamond's lack of color, with the most valuable diamonds appearing completely colorless. However, lab-grown diamonds can also come in fancy colors like yellow, pink, or blue. The choice between a classic colorless stone and a unique colored diamond ultimately depends on personal style and preferences.


Clarity measures the presence of internal flaws (inclusions) or external blemishes. While high-clarity diamonds are more expensive, many inclusions are too tiny to be seen without magnification. Choosing a diamond with slight inclusions can be a way to maximize quality without overextending your budget.


Cut quality determines how well a diamond reflects light and directly impacts its sparkle. Prioritizing a diamond's cut ensures that even a smaller stone appears brilliant and eye-catching. While an "Excellent" or "Ideal" cut is optimal, diamonds with slightly lower grades can also offer significant sparkle at a more affordable price. Among the 4 Cs, prioritizing a diamond's cut quality is crucial as it most affects how well the lab created diamond reflects light. A well-cut diamond will appear luminous and radiant, even if it has a lower color or clarity grade. Therefore, for buyers who value sparkle above all else, investing in a high-quality cut can make all the difference in creating a dazzling, memorable piece of jewelry.



Diamond Buying Guide for Beginners

Beginners looking to buy lab made diamonds should familiarize themselves with the grading standards used in diamond certification. Lab-grown diamonds, like mined ones, receive certifications from reputable organizations such as the International Gemological Institute (IGI). Understanding these grading reports will help you identify the best value within your budget. Pay attention to fluorescence, inclusions, and color enhancements noted on these reports to make informed decisions.



Benefits of Lab-Created Diamonds

Lab-created diamonds offer numerous benefits, including traceable origins, affordability, and reduced environmental impact. Their production involves significantly fewer natural resources and minimizes the disruption to local ecosystems. Additionally, they tend to cost up to 30% less than mined diamonds, providing high-quality, eco-friendly alternatives without sacrificing beauty. These benefits make them a compelling choice for socially conscious buyers.



Diamond Alternatives

For those considering diamond alternatives, moissanite offers unique, colorful options. Moissanite, particularly, is often chosen for its diamond-like brilliance and affordability, while colored moissanite provides vibrant, personalized flair to jewelry. Lab-grown diamonds remain a popular choice for their timeless appeal, but exploring other stones offers a creative twist that can make your piece truly special.