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What Is A Man-Made Diamond?

Man-made diamonds have been produced for industrial purposes since the 1950s and are used in a wide variety of applications: telecommunications, laser optics, healthcare and more. In 1970, researchers at General Electric created the first, small, gem quality synthetic diamonds that could be faceted as gems. By the mid-1980s, other manufacturers were able to grow them. Initially, they were mostly small and yellow, but the quality steadily improved, and today both colorless and colored gem quality man-made diamonds are available to use in jewellery.

Man-made diamonds, also known as lab-grown diamonds and lab-created diamonds, are pure carbon diamonds grown in highly-controlled laboratory conditions that simulate the Earth's natural growing process. The results yield real diamonds that are physically, chemically and optically identical to mined diamonds.

While people have experimented with diamond growing technology for more than a century, it has only been in the last decade that we've been able to perfect the science of creating gem quality lab-created diamonds in a modern day lab. With today's technological advances, we are growing diamonds that are free of conflict and superior in every way to earth mined diamonds

The material 'diamond' is defined as carbon atoms in a cubic structure; both natural and synthetic diamonds are made of this material.

However, the vastly different conditions under which natural diamonds and synthetic diamonds form result in differences in their growth structure and in atomic level defects, so to say that they are identical is misleading. If they were identical, we would not be able to tell them apart.

But because they share essentially the same physical and optical characteristics of natural diamonds, man-made diamonds have the shine and sparkle of a natural diamond when fashioned as gems.

One of the beautiful aspects of a polished diamond is the way light interacts with it, and it has superior hardness on the Mohs scale (which means that polished surfaces are not easily scratched or damaged). A synthetic diamond has those properties as well.

Lab grown diamonds are now readily available in a variety of colorless ranges. They are also available in fancy colors that are considered very rare in nature, including popular hues of vivid fancy yellow. Fancy colored lab diamonds sell at comparatively reasonable prices compared to their natural colored diamond counterparts.

Man-Made Diamonds Vs. Diamond Simulants

It is important to note the major distinction between man-made diamonds and diamond simulants. Diamond simulants, such as cubic zirconia and moissanite, look similar to diamonds but are not true carbon crystals. Simulants do not have the same chemical and physical properties as natural diamonds and therefore sell at much lower prices than man made diamonds. Simulants can be distinguished from natural or man-made diamonds using only the naked eye.

Natural and man-made diamonds have thermal conductivity properties that differentiate them from cubic zirconia with a handheld diamond tester. Some man-made diamonds, along with some natural colored diamonds, may be mistakenly identified as moissanites when using certain diamond testers due to similarity in their electrical conductivity. However, gemologists can typically distinguish between diamond and moissanite due to their differing refractive properties, with moissanites being double refractive and diamonds being single refractive.

Man-Made Diamonds Vs. Natural Diamonds

Man-made diamonds display the same physical, chemical, and optical characteristics as natural diamonds, and exhibit the same fire, scintillation, and sparkle. Using a jewellery loupe, man made diamonds are nearly impossible to differentiate from natural diamonds. Man-made diamonds may exhibit different trace elements than natural diamonds that do not affect the appearance of the diamond. Man-made diamonds can be distinguished from natural diamonds only with tests using specialized equipment. Man-made diamonds available for purchase should always come with a gem certification identifying them as laboratory grown.


Lab-Created Diamonds Natural Diamonds
Lab-grown in a matter of weeks Formed under the earth's crust over billions of years
Constructed of carbon atoms structures Constructed of carbon atoms structures
Mass-produced One-of-a-kind
Lower price with no resale value Higher price with resale value
Available in a range of shapes and carat weight Available in a range of shapes and carat weight
Somewhat desirable for engagement rings Very desirable for engagement rings

Man-made diamonds vs. natural diamonds.

Facts About Man-Made Diamonds

The Different Terms For Man-Made Diamonds

Many different terms are used to describe diamonds grown artificially. Look for the use of the terms synthetic, man-made, laboratory-grown or laboratory-created. These and other terms are listed in the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines on diamonds.

The industry uses many terms to describe them, so if you see any of these terms it's an indication that it is synthetic. But they likely won't use the term synthetic.