With the concern over the ethics of mining diamonds, we’ve begun to hear more and more questions about synthetic, genetically engineered diamonds. To help answer those questions, we’re here to share what we’ve learned in our nearly 100 years of business at Samuelson’s Diamonds.
How Are Natural Diamonds Formed?
So how does a diamond get made? Chemistry has a lot to do with it, and we’re not just talking about that irresistible pull of a glittering diamond. Diamonds are made from carbon atoms that are subjected to incredible heat and pressure deep under the Earth’s surface. Imagine about 60 elephants stacked on top of a silver dollar and you get a sense of the amount of pressure that needs to be present in order for a diamond to be formed. Specifically, carbon atoms must be under 725,000 pounds of pressure per square inch at a temperature of over 2000 degrees Fahrenheit.
It’s these specific conditions that cause carbon atoms to rearrange themselves and form a natural diamond. We rely on volcanic eruptions and other geological forces to push diamonds closer to the surface, which is how we are able to mine them.
The natural process is certainly intense – not to mention, unpredictable. After all, even with all of those conditions required to make a diamond, only a small fraction of those diamonds are suitable for use in jewelry. Jewelers are always looking for diamonds that meet the necessary criteria that buyers want – clarity, color, cut, and carat weight. It’s understandable then that people have turned to labs to create their own synthetic diamonds!
Synthetic Diamonds vs. Natural Diamonds
To help buyers know exactly what they’re getting, the United States has federal regulations requiring non-natural diamonds to be clearly labeled. Most commonly, those names include:
This helps consumers who are shopping for a diamond know exactly what they’re buying. An ethical jeweler will be able to provide a lab certification certifying the diamond’s origin, regardless of whether it’s synthetic or organic. However, the worth of lab-grown diamonds has consistently been proven to be less than that of a natural diamond. When gemstone quality diamonds are made in a lab they cost about 20-30% less on a per-carat basis, compared to naturally occurring diamonds.
Do Synthetic Diamonds Come In Different Colors?
By introducing certain chemicals during the production process, scientists can make synthetic diamonds that are pink, white, and canary yellow, among other colors. When compared to natural colored diamonds, however, synthetic diamonds will have a more uniform color. Many people prefer the unique one-of-a-kind coloring found in natural diamonds.
Are “Alternative Diamonds” the Same as Synthetic Diamonds?
Moissanite, a clear crystalline stone, and other hard, clear, shiny crystals are sometimes considered to be “alternatives” to diamonds (but with a fraction of the value). You should note that while moissanite is a naturally occurring crystal, most moissanite crystals today are made in a lab.
However, these are not the same as synthetic diamonds. The term synthetic diamond refers to stones that have the same chemical makeup and crystal structure as natural diamonds. They’re still diamonds, but made in a lab by a scientist rather than over the course of millions of years by Mother Nature.
Do Synthetic Diamonds Have Value?
Synthetic diamonds do have value. Estimates show that about 500,000 carats of synthetic diamonds are produced and sold each year. Essentially all of them are sold for use in industrial or scientific applications.
Compare this to the market for naturally occurring gemstone quality diamonds. Nearly 125 million carats of natural diamonds are mined each year.
So synthetic diamonds do have value, but not often as jewelry. When gemstone quality diamonds are made in a lab they cost about 20-30% less on a per-carat basis, compared to naturally occurring diamonds.
Does Samuelson’s Buyers Buy Synthetic Diamonds?
At Samuelson’s, we only work with natural diamonds. However, we will procure a lab grown diamond by request. While we understand why synthetic diamonds may be preferential to organic diamonds, we believe a diamond is more than just a collection of carbon atoms. We believe each diamond has a story to tell. We want that story to be part of your own.
Our collection of natural diamonds lends itself to a beautiful array of engagement rings, earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and more. Whether you’re looking to buy or sell, we would be delighted to offer you a private, one-on-one consultation with our trusted, certified diamond experts. We encourage questions because we want to make sure you feel confident about your decision going forward. Call 301-804-6176 or contact us online to request an appointment with one of our certified experts today!
Photo Credits: Wikipedia