The History of Lab-Grown Diamonds: What to Know Before Your Diamond Purchase

It’s important to know the history of lab-grown diamonds before you make your diamond purchase. Between mined diamonds, lab-grown diamonds, and simulant or synthetic diamonds, consumers have many options. Those looking for ethical diamonds must be careful while doing their research, as many diamond companies claim to be sustainable and conflict-free. What makes VRAI created diamonds different? VRAI works exclusively with diamonds sustainably created in our zero-emission foundry. And although we are a part of the lab-grown diamond movement, VRAI created diamonds are truly unmatched as they are created in the world’s #1 certified carbon neutral foundry. To understand why this differentiates us from all other above-ground diamonds, it’s important to learn more about the lab-grown process. Understanding synthetic diamonds and the history of lab-grown diamonds matters, and we’re here to explain why ours are a cut above the rest.

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

Lab-grown diamonds vs moissanite

Lab-grown diamonds and moissanite are not the same. In the late 1800s, a scientist named Henri Moissan discovered mineral moissanite while studying rock samples from a meteor crater located in Canyon Diablo, Arizona. Moissan was convinced that he had discovered diamonds, due to the stones’ shiny appearance. In 1904, however, after years of close examination, he realized that the crystals he had found were actually made from silicon carbide. Little did he know that scientists had already found a way to create artificial silicon carbide in laboratories just two years before. The mineral form he had found, however, was named Moissanite in his honor.

Now, consumers can purchase jewelry with moissanite as an alternative to mined diamonds. But, make no mistake — moissanite is not the same as a lab-grown diamond because it’s not diamond at all. And although many moissanite jewelers claim to be environmentally-friendly, this isn’t entirely true. It’s wonderful that moissanite doesn’t require mining. But unless makers are using renewable energy to power their plants and laboratories, they are creating significant carbon emissions and likely relying on non-renewable coal.

Are lab-grown diamonds synthetic diamonds?

Lab-grown diamonds are sometimes incorrectly referred to as synthetic diamonds, but lab-grown and synthetic diamonds are not the same. 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.

The most common diamond simulant besides moissanite is cubic zirconia. Cubic zirconia has grown in popularity over the years due to its affordability — it is much less expensive than mined or lab-grown diamonds. But part of this is because, like moissanite, cubic zirconia is not diamond at all. It’s a crystalline form of zirconium dioxide. Zirconium oxide powder is exposed to extremely high temperatures until it melts. Then it is left to cool, and that is when crystals begin to form. The end result is a gemstone similar in appearance to diamonds that can be used for jewelry making. Like moissanite, cubic zirconia and any other gem claiming to be a synthetic diamond, cannot be considered entirely ethical or environmentally-friendly. The short-term solutions they offer are often outweighed by the long-term effects of their carbon emissions

The history of lab-grown diamonds

The first real above-ground diamonds were made in the 1950s, but actual gem-quality stones did not appear until the 1970s. There are now two distinct ways in which lab-grown diamonds are produced. The first method ever used to create above-ground diamonds recreates the extreme pressure and heat from the Earth’s crust through machines. This is called the High Pressure High Temperature method, or HPHT. A diamond “seed” (a small slither of a diamond) is placed in pure carbon, then subdues extreme heat and pressure until the carbon melts and diamond forms around the original seed. A second method, more recent in development, is called Chemical Vapor Deposition, or CVD. The same diamond seed is sealed inside a chamber, where it is 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.

VRAI created diamonds, our sustainably-created lab-grown diamonds, are created through the CVD process. We start with our very own diamond “seed” and then rely on plasma reactors to reach extreme temperatures — our plasma actually reaches the same heat as the surface of the sun! In this heat, the atoms begin to attach to the diamond seed’s crystal lattice and it grows in size until it is a pure, jewelry-grade diamond of gem size. A portion of this diamond is sliced off and used again and again to continue the process.

VRAI’s sustainably-created, lab-grown diamonds

VRAI created diamonds are unmatched because they are sustainably-created lab grown diamonds. Although both HPHT and CVD methods of creating lab-grown diamonds both eliminate the harmful environmental damage and human toll that mined diamonds create, they cannot necessarily claim to be ethical, environmentally-friendly, and conflict-free methods. Many lab-grown diamond producers rely on coal to power their foundries, meaning they leave a heavy carbon footprint behind them.

VRAI created diamonds take all factors into account. We were the first and remain the #1 producer of diamonds in the world from a foundry that has been certified carbon neutral. Our foundry is located in the Pacific Northwest and is powered by the Columbia River, not coal. This means that our method of creating lab-grown diamonds is entirely sustainable. When you buy a VRAI created diamond, you are purchasing a real diamond— not moissanite, cubic zirconia, or another synthetic material — without mining, deforestation, cartels, or carbon emissions.

Our diamonds are then featured in engagement rings and fine jewelry designs made from platinum or recycled solid gold. Our packaging uses only recyclable, renewable, or compostable materials. VRAI also pays carbon credits to offset the emissions of its employees working around the world.

Discover VRAI created lab-grown diamonds for yourself

It’s time for you to discover the beauty and innovation of VRAI created lab-grown diamonds for yourself. Diamonds sustainably created by VRAI are used in timeless designs for life’s true moments. From fine jewelry perfect for marking milestones to engagement rings and wedding bands made to last a lifetime, we have pieces fit for every occasion that reflect your values. Discover the beauty, craftsmanship, and innovation of our bestselling engagement rings and jewelry styles. Speak with our diamond experts in-store or from the comfort of your home with a virtual appointment.

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