As diamond engagement rings continue to be the worldwide symbol of eternal love, a new challenger is disrupting the traditional diamond scene - lab grown diamonds. Ethically-sourced and widely affordable, it’s no surprise that these man-made stones are growing in popularity.
Are you curious if a CVD diamond is the right choice for you? Keep reading to learn everything you need to know to make an informed decision regarding the center stone for your forever adornment.
What Are CVD Diamonds?
CVD diamonds are a variety of diamonds produced using Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD). Different from natural diamonds and High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) lab diamonds, CVD-processed stones first made their way onto the fine jewelry scene about a decade ago and are growing in popularity on the online jewelry market.
Are CVD Diamonds Real diamonds?
Yes, CVD diamonds are real diamonds. Although grown in a lab, CVD diamonds are gem-quality diamonds that have the same elemental structure and the same physical, chemical and optical properties as their natural counterparts. In addition, CVD diamonds are polished and cut the same as natural diamonds so the difference between the two is impossible to spot to the naked eye.
CVD stones undergo the same certification process as natural diamonds and are graded according to the 4Cs - color, cut, clarity and carat. In addition, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has been grading laboratory-grown diamonds since 2007 and each stone comes with an official grading report upon purchase to confirm its quality and value.
How Are CVD Diamonds Made?
According to the GIA, the process of growing a CVD diamond, “involves introducing a gas, such as methane, into a vacuum chamber, then activating and breaking down the molecules of the gas with microwaves. This causes the carbon atoms to accumulate on a substrate, similar to the way snowflakes accumulate in a snowfall.”
The CVD process of growing diamonds can be much less costly than the HPHT process because it often requires smaller and cheaper equipment. Over time, CVD producers have experimented with different gasses in the growth chamber to find the best formula for speedy growth rates and quality stones.
“Since many early CVDs had a brownish color, producers also found that treating the material at high temperatures and pressures can remove the brown coloration to make the crystals colorless. This treatment step masked some of the signature features, which resulted in the identification of these synthetic diamonds becoming more difficult,” reported GIA.
How fast do CVD Diamonds Grow? Unlike the billions of years that it takes for a natural diamond to form, lab grown diamonds take around a month to grow. During the CVD process, carbon atoms attach to the diamond seed one layer at a time. The amount of time that it takes to create different synthetic stones varies too. For example, it takes 2+ weeks to grow a 1-carat clear diamond vs 5-10 days to grow yellow and blue diamonds.
Are All Lab Grown Diamonds CVD Diamonds?
As mentioned above, not all lab grown diamonds are CVD diamonds. Lab diamonds can also be created using the HPHT process. According to GIA, “high-pressure, high-temperature synthetic diamonds are produced from carbon material in apparatuses that mimic the high pressure, high-temperature conditions of natural diamond formation in the earth.”
Are Cubic Zirconias the Same as a CVD Diamond?
No, cubic zirconia is not the same thing as a CVD diamond. Lab created diamonds share the same chemical properties as natural diamonds, while cubic zirconia is a diamond simulant with a shorter lifespan due to damage from everyday wear and discoloration over time.
GIA comments on this stating, “some people might refer to lab grown diamonds as imitations or simulants, but this is incorrect. Actual imitations like cubic zirconia or moissanite, which only look like a diamond, have very different chemical and physical properties that allow trained gemologists to identify them easily. However, lab grown diamonds are more challenging to detect since they are in every way the same as natural diamonds.”
While cubic zirconia is a lower quality diamond simulant often used in costume jewelry, other diamond simulants are higher in quality and better stand the test of time. One of these simulants is moissanite, a stone composed of silicon carbide that was discovered in 1893. Moissanite gemstones are typically near colorless and are famous for their shimmering disco ball effect when exposed to light. These stones sell at a much more affordable price than mined diamonds and act as fabulous center stones—though easily told apart from diamonds because of their sparkle factor.
For a top tier diamond simulant option, engagement ring shoppers love the Nexus Diamond™ alternative. A patented diamond simulant, the Nexus Diamond™ alternative is the one simulant that most closely imitates the look, weight and wear of a diamond. This lab created stone is virtually indistinguishable from a diamond with the naked eye alone as it can cut glass, is completely colorless, rates internally flawless on the diamond clarity chart and is cut to maximize brilliance and fire. Unlike cubic zirconia, the Nexus Diamond™ alternative should not chip, crack or become discolored over time.
Why CVD Diamonds?
Aside from the great price point, CVD diamonds appeal to consumers due to their conflict-free nature. When you purchase a lab grown diamond you know exactly where the stone comes from. When you purchase a mined diamond it’s likely that your stone was sourced from a region that’s teeming with conflict. The traditional diamond industry is guilty of child labor, human rights violations, poor working conditions and funding armed conflicts. Buying a diamond that’s grown in a lab helps consumers avoid contributing to this cycle of cruelty.
In addition, man made diamonds have a smaller environmental footprint. Contrary to what marketers want us to believe, diamonds are not rare and they have never been. Mining for stones is also extremely disruptive to local landscapes, habitats and wildlife. To find just a single 1-carat diamond, miners must sift through thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands, pounds of dirt.
CVD diamonds create almost no waste, they aren’t used to fund conflict and they don’t originate in mines making lab grown stones a favorite among ethically-minded shoppers.
How Much Do CVD Diamonds Cost?
Lower prices are one of lab grown diamonds’ biggest appeals. Totaling 30 to 50 percent less than a mined diamond of comparable size and quality, CVD diamonds allow consumers to go bigger and better with their fine jewelry purchase.
What is the resale value?
While some traditional jewelers will tell you that lab diamonds have no resale value, this is absolutely not true. Just like a mined diamond, man made diamonds also have resale value that is determined based on the Four Cs of diamonds - carat, cut, clarity and color. However, buying an engagement ring, of any kind, with the intention to sell it later is never a good investment. This is because unless a diamond is incredibly rare it’s nearly impossible to turn a profit on a diamond engagement ring.
Local jewelers don’t always accept lab grown diamonds for resale because they are a relatively new product to the market. If you are looking to sell your lab diamond jewelry, try exploring options online.