Buying a diamond is a very personal experience. Diamonds can be bought to signify love, significant accomplishments, milestones in your life or that of a gift's recipient. Unlike when you buy clothing, electronics, or cars, the features of a diamond may not seem quite so obvious to you. We would like to change that. The more you know about your diamond jewelry, the more confident you will feel when making your diamond jewelry choices. Take a moment to learn more about the 4Cs and find out how they play an important role in making your diamond jewelry unique.
Natural vs Lab Grown Diamonds
Before we talk about how lab-created diamonds are made, it’s important to understand how mined diamonds are formed. The processes are extremely similar - only one happens naturally while the other occurs in a lab. Mined Diamonds Geologists believe that diamonds formed deep within the Earth between 1 billion to 3 billion years ago. While they don’t know exactly how those diamonds came to be, they believe the process starts with carbon dioxide that is buried roughly 100 miles beneath the Earth’s surface. The carbon dioxide is exposed to heat in excess of 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit and put under extreme pressure of roughly 727,000 pounds per square inch. The diamonds are then transported from deep within the Earth’s core to the surface by way of deep volcanic explosions. Lab-created Diamonds There are two processes labs use to grow diamonds - High Pressure-High Temperature (HPHT) and Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD).
HPHT diamonds are made using one of three manufacturing process: a belt press, the cubic press, and the split-sphere (BARS) press. All of these processes create an environment of extremely high pressure and temperature conducive to diamond growth. An HPHT diamond begins as a small diamond seed that is placed into carbon. Using one of the manufacturing processes above, the seed is exposed to temperatures of about 1500 degrees Celsius and pressurized to approximately 1.5 million pounds per square inch. The pure carbon melts and starts to form a diamond around the starter seed. It is then carefully cooled to form a pure carbon diamond.
A CVD diamond begins as a thin slice of diamond seed, which is often an HPHT produced diamond. The diamond seed is placed in a sealed chamber and heated to around 800 degrees Celsius. The chamber is filled with a carbon rich-gas, like Methane, and other gases. The gases are ionized into plasma using technology similar to that of microwaves or lasers. The ionization breaks the molecular bonds in the gases, and the pure carbon adheres to the diamond seed and slowly crystallizes
It all boils down to what is important to you. You may choose a mined diamond because you feel they hold a certain significance and are one of nature’s miracles with a mysterious origin. Or, you may be attracted to a lab-created diamond because you feel they signify a modern love and the incredible progression of technology.
While some may want to debate which type of diamond is “better,” in reality, mined diamonds and lab-created diamonds aren’t in competition with one another. Diamonds represent love, and love is love.
The shape of the diamond is often confused with the cut. Choose the shape that you like based on your style and you cannot go wrong.
The cut of a diamond determines its brilliance or sparkle. Each shape will be cut differently. Before a diamond is cut, the location of inclusions and flaws, the natural coloration, and the original shape of the rough stone are studied extensively. The stone facets are then mapped out and cut in a way that maximizes size, shape, and clarity. For optimal light performance, you will want a diamond that is cut neither too shallow nor too deep.
Diamonds are graded based on the amount of color they do or do not possess. The scale runs from D (colorless) to Z (light yellow). An absolutely colorless diamond is rare and therefore very valuable.
A diamond is distinguished by its natural characteristics, just as a person would be noted for her blue eyes or his brown hair. Notated as a diamond's clarity, these characteristics can be present on the surface (blemishes) or within the stone (inclusions). The clarity is judged by the number and types of these characteristics and is designated using a scale that runs from Fl, defined as flawless, to I3, defined as inclusions visible with the naked eye. A flawless diamond is truly rare.
Flawless: No internal or external flaws.
Internally Flawless: No internal flaws.
VVS1, VVS2 Diamonds
Very, Very Slightly included: Very difficult to see inclusions with 10x magnification.
VS1, VS2 Diamonds
Very Slightly Included: Inclusions are visible under 10x magnification to a skilled grader.
SI1, SI2 Diamonds
Slightly Included: Inclusions are visible under 10x magnification and may be visible with the unaided eye.
I1, I2, I3 Diamonds
Included: Inclusions are visible with the unaided eye.
The unit of measure used for the weight of a diamond is the carat. As a matter of reference, a carat is equivalent to .2 grams or .007 of an ounce. Carat weight can also be divided further by using points. There are 100 points in one carat. So a 1/4 (.25) carat stone can also be expressed as 25 points and mean exactly the same thing. When comparing two diamonds, please note that just because one is twice the carat weight of the other does not mean that it will appear to be twice the size.