Loose sustainably created lab-grown diamonds on black background
Loose sustainably created lab-grown diamonds on black background

The History of Lab-Grown Diamonds: How They’ve Evolved

Alicia Briggs | January 05, 2024

It’s important to know the history of lab-grown diamonds before you make your diamond purchase. Between mined diamonds, lab-grown diamonds, and diamond simulants, consumers have many options. Those looking for ethical diamonds must be careful while doing their research, however, as many diamond companies claim to be sustainable and conflict-free, but aren’t. Lab-grown diamonds are the future of the diamond industry, with more consumers choosing lab-grown today.

Read on to learn how lab-grown diamonds were first created, and how the manufacturing process and demand has evolved.

VRAI created diamonds offer a truly sustainable diamond option. Below, we cover how VRAI’s Carbon Neutral Certified lab-grown diamonds are leading the diamond industry.

Lab-grown diamonds, lab-created diamonds, rough diamonds
Lab-grown diamonds, lab-created diamonds, rough diamonds

What Are Lab-Grown Diamonds?

Lab-grown diamonds are diamonds that are created in a lab. The FTC recognizes lab-grown diamonds as real diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds replicate the formation process of mined diamonds in a lab and are made from the same mineral (carbon).

Who Started Lab-Grown Diamonds and When?

Lab-grown diamonds were first created in 1954 by GE through a project that had begun in the 1940s. Until then, scientists had unsuccessfully attempted to create lab-grown diamonds since 1797.

Howard Tracy Hall and Herbert Strong are the two scientists who are credited for creating lab-grown diamonds. They finally created the first recognized lab-grown diamond by using a high-pressure belt press (later known as the HPHT method).

The History of Lab-Grown Diamonds Timeline

  • 1954: The first lab-grown diamond is created using the HPHT method.
  • 1971: The first gem-quality lab-grown diamond is made.
  • 1980s: The CVD method is further developed. Lab-grown diamond jewelry and engagement rings become widely available.
  • 2007: The GIA introduces the first grading report for lab-grown diamonds.
  • 2017: VRAI created diamonds become the world’s first Carbon-Neutral Certified diamonds.
  • 2018: The FTC recognizes lab-grown diamonds as real diamonds.

How Were Lab-Grown Diamonds Originally Made?

Lab-grown diamonds were originally made using the high-pressure, high-temperature method (HPHT). As the name suggests, HPHT uses high pressure and high temperatures to form carbon into diamonds, which is how diamonds are naturally formed.

Howard Tracy Hall developed the Hall belt press. This made creating lab-grown diamonds through HPHT successful.

Initially, creating lab-grown diamonds was labor-intensive and expensive. The results varied as well. The first lab-grown diamonds weren’t gem-quality diamonds and were used for industrial purposes instead.

The HPHT process was further refined and in 1971, gem-quality lab-grown diamonds were made through HPHT.

What Country Makes Lab-grown Diamonds?

The first lab-grown diamond was made in the United States. Today, several countries make lab-grown diamonds.

China is currently the biggest lab-grown diamond producer. China makes 56% of all lab-grown diamonds available on the market today. India follows China as the second biggest lab-grown diamond producer, while the United States is the third largest lab-grown diamond producer.

History of Lab-Grown Diamond Uses

Lab-grown diamonds had various uses throughout history and today. The first lab-grown diamonds were only used for industrial purposes, as they weren’t gem-quality diamonds.

Diamonds have a 10 on the Mohs hardness scale which makes them incredibly durable and valuable for technological and industrial purposes. Lab-grown diamonds (and mined diamonds) are still used in various industries today.

It took several decades for scientists to perfect the process for gem-quality lab-grown diamonds. Once they did, lab-grown diamonds started to be used for jewelry and engagement rings.

When Did Laboratory Grown Gem Quality Diamonds Begin to Appear on the Jewelry Market?

GE managed to create the first gem-quality lab-grown diamonds in 1971. It was still difficult and expensive to regularly produce gem-quality diamonds, however. Many lab-grown diamonds had numerous inclusions or undesirable colors.

By the 1980s, lab-grown diamond jewelry started to become more widely available. As technology improved, lab-grown diamond jewelry options increased.

It wasn’t until the 2000s, however, that lab-grown diamond jewelry and engagement rings became popular and accessible.

How Are Lab-Grown Diamonds Made Now

There are two methods for making lab-grown diamonds today: HPHT and CVD.


HPHT is the first method ever used to create above-ground diamonds. It recreates the extreme pressure and heat from the Earth’s crust through machines. A diamond “seed” (a small slither of a diamond) is placed in pure carbon. It then experiences extreme heat and pressure until the carbon melts and a diamond forms around the original seed.

HPHT is more commonly used for industrial lab-grown diamonds with a projected $11.7 billion market revenue for 2024.


CVD is a more recent method for producing lab-grown diamonds. It has surpassed HPHT in efficiency. Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) seals a diamond seed inside a chamber, where it’s vaporized with a carbon-rich gas. The heat is cranked up and carbon begins to attach itself to the seed, growing a diamond, atom by atom, inside.

The CVD method was patented in the 1950s, but it took much longer for scientists to develop and utilize it. It’s anticipated that the majority of lab-grown diamonds in 2024 will be made through CVD, with a 16.5 billion market revenue. CVD more efficiently produces gem-quality diamonds than HPHT. VRAI only uses the CVD method.

While the process of making lab-grown diamonds has greatly improved over the years, becoming more cost-effective and using fewer resources, there’s still a long way to go. Both HPHT and CVD eliminate the environmental damage and human toll that diamond mining causes, but they aren’t necessarily truly ethical or environmentally friendly.

Many lab-grown diamond producers rely on coal to power their foundries, meaning they leave a heavy carbon footprint behind them. VRAI is the first and only diamond producer to make Carbon-Neutral Certified lab-grown diamonds through the power of renewable energy.

Evolution of Lab-Grown Diamond Demand

The demand for lab-grown diamonds has grown exponentially throughout history. The demand for both industrial-grade and gem-quality lab-grown diamonds was initially very low. When lab-grown diamonds were first created, they weren’t a widely available, cost-effective alternative to mined diamonds.

In the 1990s, the demand for lab-grown diamonds greatly increased for two reasons. Scientists finally fine-tuned the process of creating quality lab-grown diamonds easily, efficiently, and affordably. Lab-grown diamond jewelry became widely available on the market as a result.

At the same time, Blood diamonds became a global conversation. Shoppers learned that the mined diamonds they loved were unethically mined and funding wars throughout Africa. People started searching for a conflict-free alternative, which greatly increased the demand for lab-grown diamonds.

Lab-grown diamonds are real diamonds, but they have a fully traceable origin, unlike mined diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds are also more affordable than mined diamonds. This furthered their popularity throughout the 2000s to the present day.

Lab-grown diamonds greatly surged in demand in 2014, according to Google Trends, and demand has only grown since. Shoppers today are prioritizing products that are produced in an ethical and eco-friendly way. Diamond mining destroys finite resources, while lab-grown diamond retailers like VRAI can provide sustainably created diamonds. The demand for lab-grown diamonds has never been higher than it is today.

Do Most People Buy Lab Diamonds?

Most people buy mined diamonds, as they are still the traditional choice, and mined diamond myths, such as rarity, persist. But lab-grown diamonds have largely increased in popularity. By 2030, lab-grown diamonds are anticipated to account for 10% of the global diamond market.

Lab-grown diamond retailers and industry experts are reporting high increases in sales, with more shoppers choosing lab-grown diamond engagement rings than ever before.

What Is the Biggest Market for Lab-grown Diamonds?

The United States is the biggest market for lab-grown diamonds. In 2021, U.S. shoppers spent $20 billion on lab-grown diamonds. This number is projected to grow to $52 billion by 2030.

Are Lab-grown Diamonds the Future?

Both diamond industry experts and shoppers at large are increasingly embracing lab-grown diamonds as the future of the diamond industry. Lab-grown diamonds provide an ethical, eco-friendly, and more affordable alternative to mined diamonds.

VRAI Carbon Neutral Certified Lab-Grown Diamonds

VRAI is leading the way in the diamond industry as the #1 producer of Carbon-Neutral Certified diamonds. VRAI created diamonds are grown in the world’s first zero-emission foundry. Our foundry is located in the Pacific Northwest and is powered by the Columbia River, not coal.

VRAI created diamonds are unmatched with a fully traceable origin. Thanks to VRAI’s vertically integrated supply chain and in-house master craftspeople, we oversee each step of the production process.

When you buy a VRAI created diamond, you’re purchasing a real diamond without mining, deforestation, cartels, carbon emissions, or middlemen markups.

Shop VRAI Lab-grown Diamonds

Discover the beauty and innovation of VRAI lab-grown diamonds for yourself. VRAI offers certified, lab-grown diamond engagement rings, wedding bands, and fine jewelry to last a lifetime.

Lab-Grown Diamonds FAQs

Read on for the answers to common questions about lab-grown diamonds.

How Do You Tell if a Diamond Is Lab Created?

A jeweler can tell if a diamond is lab-created by using a jeweler's loupe to view the microscopic inscription inside the diamond. Every certified diamond is marked by its manufacturer so that the origin of the diamond can be traced. Looking up the origin is the only way to tell if a diamond is lab-grown.

Why Don’t Lab-grown Diamonds Have Resale Value?

Lab-grown diamonds do have resell value, just like mined diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds are more affordable than mined diamonds, which is why people may think that they don’t have as much value.

Lab-grown diamonds typically hold their value better than mined diamonds, as mined diamonds are priced according to middlemen markups and demand, not value.

When Did Lab-grown Diamonds Become a Thing?

Lab-grown diamond jewelry became widely available to consumers in the 1980s and has exponentially grown in demand and availability since.

Lab-grown Diamonds vs Moissanite: What’s the Difference?

Lab-grown diamonds and moissanite are not the same. Moissanite is a diamond simulant (synthetic diamond). Moissanite is made from the mineral moissanite and is not a real diamond.

Lab-grown diamonds are real diamonds with identical chemical and physical properties. The only difference between lab-grown and mined diamonds is the point of origin.

Are Lab-grown Diamonds Synthetic Diamonds?

Lab-grown diamonds are not synthetic diamonds, but they are sometimes incorrectly referred to as such. Lab-grown diamonds are real diamonds, made from carbon, above ground in a laboratory.

Synthetic diamonds are made from synthetic materials. If a man-made diamond is similar to a plant grown in a greenhouse instead of outside, then a synthetic diamond would be similar to a fake plant sold in a store.

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virtual appointment with diamond expert meeting with potential customers over a call on a computer

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  • Personalized guidance to select your ring
  • In-depth diamond 4C education
  • Exclusive in-store fittings or virtual try-ons
  • Custom design options