While lab-grown diamonds are rapidly taking their share of the market, it brings quite a lot of rumors and guesses about the process of producing them and what the technology can do. Some of them are based on the lack of education about that particular product, and some go way back to the aggressive anti-marketing campaigns aimed to discourage customers from buying man-made stones. LaBrilliante tries to help with making sense of some of the misconceptions and shares some news about the technology and manufacturing process behind lab-created gems.
There is a very real misconception that some local jewelers have. Some of them think that a treated diamond can change its color over time. While this fear is real for some types of color enhancements that are applied to the mined diamonds, such as chemical coatings, this is not the case with man-made stones. There are typically two methods used for color improvement of a lab-grown diamond: HPHT or LPHT treatment (while similar to HPHT growth process, they are not the same) and Irradiation. Most of the time, these methods are used one after another to get the desired outcome, whether it is to improve the colorlessness of the diamond, giving it a higher grade on the D-Z scale, or to change the color overall, making the stone fancy colored.
According to a recent IGI educational article, all of the color enhancements alter the molecular structure of the gemstones, making the color changes permanent. Both jewelers and their customers may be sure that the lab diamonds they are buying won’t lose their color or become less colorless over time.
According to the recent Showtime documentary Nothing Lasts Forever about the diamond industry, modern technological breakthroughs have opened the door for the large white and colored diamonds. While the size record for the colorless polished lab-created gems seems to be surpassed every year, currently standing at 30.18 carats, there have been fewer developments in terms of the fancy stones. The latest record of 20.23 carats has been unbeaten for 4 years. However, we may see a shift in this direction this year already.
According to one of the biggest lab-grown jewelry retailers, they are already selling 20 carat colored manufactured diamonds on a regular basis. And due to the latest technological achievements, it is now possible to grow colored stones that would weigh up to 30 carats after polishing. While many local jewelers and diamond consumers are taught to only see man-made stones as a pair of 1 carat studs, or a 2 carat center stones for engagement rings, this is far from the case. Industry experts predict in the documentary that in a few years lab diamonds will challenge the diamond behemoths from De Beers in terms of size, making the exceptional luxury a bit more affordable.
While sustainability is one of the main selling points of lab-grown diamonds, there is still an ongoing debate amongst the industry members whether they are, in fact, eco-friendly. Huge amount of electricity is used to create lab diamonds after all. And while this is true, many growing companies have already switched to sustainable energy sources, such as nuclear, or solar power plants. There are numerous sustainability certificates that are given out to either the diamonds themselves or the factories. The most famous certification by SCS Global Services is now constantly used for the lab diamonds. Sustainable man-made stones are expected to become the main product of the lab-grown category rather soon.
At the same time, more and more Indian companies, which used to polish mined diamonds only, are now working on quite a share of lab-grown rough. They have to improve their working conditions in accordance with their buyer’s requirements. With the support from the Indian Government, polishing factories are now being modernized to make sure that lab-created stones are truly ethical.
The progress can’t be stopped, this is true about any industry. And lab-grown diamonds are the union of craftsmanship of the cutters and jewelers and the technological progress. Hence with technological development the overall diamond market leaps forward. We’re sure to experience some great achievements of the industry in the near future. LaBrilliante will be there to witness and tell you all about them.