"Synthetic diamonds are diamonds. They’re not fakes. They have all the same physical and chemical properties of a mined diamond.”
-Stephen Morisseau, Director, Gemological Institute of America (GIA)
Rather than selling diamonds dug out of massive holes in the Earth, Ada Diamonds proudly offers only laboratory-grown diamonds in our fine jewelry. Ada's gemstones are diamonds that are sustainably cultured by recreating the extreme pressure and temperature required to convert carbon into a diamond crystal structure.
Ada's diamonds have the same exact same crystal structure, chemical composition, optical properties, and physical properties as a mined diamond - carbon atoms arranged in a cubic crystal structure. Ada's diamonds are not fake, simulants, or cheap substitutes. Ada's diamonds are the hardest material on Earth and are approximately 10 times harder than sapphire and 100 times harder than cubic zirconia.
The process to grow diamonds is one of the most precise and difficult manufacturing techniques that humans have ever achieved. It took almost 60 years of effort to develop the precision to grow gemstone quality diamonds larger than one carat.
Ada's diamond gemstones are graded on the exact same criteria as mined diamonds (the Four Cs), by the exact same independent gemological laboratories that grade Earth-extracted diamonds. Compared to mined diamonds, Ada's diamonds have fewer impurities and fewer defects in the crystal structure. Our white diamonds are greater than 99.99999% pure carbon. This makes Ada Diamonds whiter, brighter, and stronger than the vast majority of mined diamonds.
How Do you Grow a Diamond?
To grow our diamonds, we are simply re-creating the conditions in nature that result in carbon crystallizing into diamond. Because the process is very similar to natural growth, there are still variations in color and clarity of grown diamonds - not all lab grown diamonds are colorless and flawless.
Diamonds can be grown in two ways. The first is called High Pressure-High Temperature (HPHT) and the second is called Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD). Each process is best suited for certain sizes, shapes, and colors of diamonds.
High Pressure, High Temperature
HPHT diamond growth occurs within enormous pressure cookers called cubic presses, which can be in excess of 70 tonnes. To grow a diamond in a cubic press, you carefully place small diamond seeds into the bottom of a growth cell, and then delicately layer additional carbon, in form of graphite, on top of the diamond seeds. You then place the growth cell into the center of the cubic press and heat the growth cell to 1500 degrees C while simultaneously exerting 1 million psi of pressure on the growth cell, which is approximately 70,000 times the pressure at sea level!
At that temperature and pressure, the graphite in the growth cell is melted into a liquid and then very carefully cooled into our favorite form of carbon, a diamond crystal. The seeds of the HPHT grown diamonds are clearly visible in the picture above.
Chemical Vapor Deposition
CVD diamond production is quite different from HPHT growth in two major ways. First, the diamonds are grown in a vacuum instead of tremendous pressure. Secondly, CVD growth requires large, flat plates of diamond instead of small seeds.
To grow a CVD diamond, you place diamond plates into a vacuum chamber, carefully inject a hydrocarbon gas such as methane, and use a high power microwave energy to break down the atomic bonds in the hydrocarbon gas. This separates the carbon atoms from the hydrogen atoms, and the resulting free carbon within the reactor 'rain' down on the diamond plates, vertically growing the diamond atom by atom, similar to the way that snow collects on a table.
In the photo above, the red hot diamond plates are growing upwards as the carbon (yellow fuzzy area) rains down on the plates.
There are many incorrect 'facts' promoted by the diamond industrial complex in order to create fear, uncertainty, and doubt about laboratory-grown diamonds. Click on each misconception to see why it is not correct.
Misconception #1: Lab Diamonds are Cheap to Manufacture
This is the most common misconception and is completely false. De Beers self-reported costs to mine diamonds was $104 per carat (for rough diamonds) in 2015. The marginal cost to grow each diamond in a laboratory is many times the cost for De Beers and other mining operations to dig diamonds out of the earth, even if you ignore the fixed costs of the machinery required to culture diamonds in a lab. The costs to cut, polish, and grade diamonds is exactly the same, regardless of the origin: grown or mined.
Misconception #2: All Lab Diamonds all Colorless and Flawless
The process to grow diamonds in a laboratory is very similar to the geological growth process. The same types of inclusions and imperfections present in mined diamonds can also occur in lab diamonds. If the diamond crystal grows too fast, there can be minuscule cracks (feathers) in the diamond. There can also be small inclusions of trace elements or other growth defects that cause the diamond to be near-colorless or slightly included. Lab diamonds are independently graded on the exact same criteria as mined diamonds by the exact same independent gemological laboratories that also grade mined diamonds.
Misconception #3: Lab Diamonds are Going to Flood the Market
There are approximately 25 million carats of diamond gemstones that are mined, cut, and polished every year, with billions of carats more in existing mines. De Beers estimates its current diamond reserves at 479.7 million carats. To build production facilities large enough to generate one percent of the current mined supply would take hundreds of millions of dollars of capital expenditure to build the facility and tens of millions of dollars a year to run the facility. It will take many years before lab diamonds are anything but an extremely small portion of the total diamond market.
Misconception #4: The Price of Mined Diamonds will be Reduced by Lab Diamonds
This misconception hinges on three incorrect assumptions:
1. Diamonds are rare (see below)
2. There will be enough diamonds grown in a labs around the world to reduce that rarity (see Misconception #3)
3. That it is cheaper to grow diamonds than it is to mine them (see Misconception #1)
While mined fancy colored diamonds and large investment grade diamonds are quite rare, there are currently over one billion carats of diamond gemstones owned globally. Experts estimate that the Baby Boomer Generation in the United States owns over 500 million carats of diamond gemstones which will be inherited or resold in the next few decades. Ada believes the much larger threat to the value of mined diamonds is the recycling and resale of previously mined diamonds, a space that De Beers recently entered.
Misconception #5: The Lab Diamond Industry Only Exists to Make Gemstones
In fact, the main reason that the diamond industry exists is not to grow diamond gemstones but instead to grow functional diamonds for industrial, computational, health care, and scientific applications.