How are Artificial Diamonds Made

As natural diamonds are expensive, artificial diamonds are made as a substitute to those who cannot afford expensive diamonds and thus giving rise to the interest to know how artificial diamonds are made. Diamond is a naturally found substance within the surface of the earth. It is not only the hardest substance but also one of the most valuable too. It has been used as an ornament by human begins since time immemorial. Diamonds are expressions of love and thus exchanged by couples marrying or getting exchanged. For those who cannot afford expensive diamonds, there is the option to go for manmade diamonds. This article attempts to explain the methods involved with making synthetic diamonds.

How are Artificial Diamonds Made – Facts about Man Made Diamonds

Artificial diamonds are chemically same as natural diamonds

Artificial diamonds are also referred to as cultured diamonds or lab grown diamonds. They are made using complex technologies inside heavily controlled environment that aims to simulate the conditions that lead to the formation of real diamonds inside earth’s crust. In fact, artificial diamonds are identical to natural diamonds as far as their chemical composition is concerned. Artificial diamonds can be colorless as well as colored. These synthetic diamonds are very reasonably priced in comparison to diamonds found naturally.

Artificial diamonds are different from stimulants

Man-made diamonds have been around for the last many decades. However, there are available many other substances like cubic zirconia and Moissanite that look like diamonds but they are much cheaper and not diamonds at all. This is why they are termed as stimulants by industry experts. CZ mimics the looks of a diamond but it is not a diamond. Artificial diamonds are lab grown man-made diamonds that have the same composition and properties as real diamonds.

How are Artificial Diamonds Made 01

It was in 1893 that the first artificial diamonds were created in the lab by Henri Moissan. He proposed a theory that the diamond could be made through crystallization of carbon by placing it under pressure using molten iron. He created electric arc furnace to attain high temperatures of around 3500 degrees Celsius. His experiments were replicated and improved upon by many scientists. In 1954, first commercially available manmade diamonds were made. They caught the imagination of the people, but they remained expensive as they were made to be used for industrial purposes.

How are Artificial Diamonds Made -Methods

High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT)

As the name implies, this is a method that simulates conditions identical to what are present under the surface of the earth. Very high pressure is applied to carbon under very high temperature to convert it into a diamond. This method utilizes belt press with high pressure applied through anvils. High temperatures are attained with the help of heating current. There is a growth centre containing all the materials required to create artificial diamonds. These include purified and refined graphite (carbon), a small diamond seed, and a catalyst made of mix metals to hasten the process. At a high temperature of 1300 degrees Celsius and 50000 atmospheres pressure, the catalyst melts and graphite dissolves in this metallic solution. Cooling of this solution is carried out over several days after which carbon takes the structure of a diamond. It is cleaned, cut, and polished to give it the same look like a real diamond. It is essential to monitor pressure and temperature conditions all through the process to get diamonds of desired quality.

How are Artificial Diamonds Made

Chemical Vapor Deposition

In this method hydrogen and carbon gases are sent inside a chamber. High temperature is maintained inside the chamber using heating filaments and microwaves. These gases get broken because of high temperature and later high pressure and high temperatures are applied to make diamonds. This method has become very popular these days as it gives a much better control and also makes it possible to obtain large diamonds. However, CVD is a very expensive method in comparison to HPHT.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Apollo Synthetic Diamond by Steve Jurvetson (CC BY 2.0)

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