How is Lab Made Diamond Ethical and Sustainable?
As consumers become more conscious about the environmental and humanitarian impact of the products they buy, lab-made diamonds are gaining popularity. From big jewelry brands to celebrities, more and more people are boosting lab-made diamonds as a more ethical and sustainable alternative.
Traditionally, diamonds are formed naturally under the surface of the Earth, where high pressure, as well as heat from the mantle, leads to the formation of diamonds. Mined diamonds, however, have posed some ethical issues historically. At one point, blood diamonds were blamed for providing funds for military actions in war zones. A certification scheme was then developed that all but got rid of unethical trading.
Despite this, mined diamonds do harm the environment, which is why a sustainable alternative was sought after.
What Are Lab Made Diamonds?
Lab-made diamonds, like the name suggests, are made in labs in countries such as the USA, Singapore, and China. Lab-made diamonds have the same physical and chemical properties as mined diamonds, yet at lower costs. Since authentic diamonds take years to form, their value is much higher than that of a diamond that can be made in a lab. Most of the diamonds mined today were formed sometime between 1 to 3 billion years ago, back when the Earth was a much hotter planet.
Lab-made diamonds, aside from having a lower price, also are less harmful to the environment compared to mined diamonds. As consumers focus more on sustainability, opting for lab-made diamonds is becoming more popular. But while lab-made diamonds have a lesser environmental impact compared to mined diamonds, they do still impact the environment. This is because the countries focusing on lab-made diamonds use fossil fuels as a major source of energy. However, as cleaner sources of energy are adopted, it's possible to make lab-made diamonds even more eco-friendly.
How Are Lab-Made Diamonds Processed?
Lab-made diamonds are created in an artificial environment, meant to emulate the natural environment a diamond is made in. There are two ways to make a lab-made diamond. For both these methods, a sliver of another diamond, also known as a 'seed' will be required.
The first-ever lab-made diamond was made using a process called High-Pressure High Temperature, or HPHT. In this process, the seed is placed between pure graphite iron. It's then exposed to high temperatures that reach up to 1500 C. Extreme pressure is also applied on it, at nearly 1.5 million pounds per square inch.
The second method uses a process known as Chemical Vapour Deposition. In this process, the seed needs to be placed in a sealed chamber. The chamber is filled with gas rich in carbon and heated to around 800 C.
The gases will now start to stick to the seed, and a diamond will start to form slowly.