Why Lab Diamonds Will Never be Cheap to Manufacture
Why Is it Difficult to Grow High Quality Lab Diamonds?
- There is a well-known speed limit as to how fast a diamond crystal can be grown. If you try to grow a diamond faster, the diamonds will have fractures in the crystal resulting in low-clarity. Hot, fast growth also produces more voids in the crystal structure which results in brown, yellow, and gray undertones.
- Short-cuts produce low quality lab diamonds. One of the ways HPHT diamond growth is sped up is by adding boron during the growth process. This can result in lab diamonds with a blue tinge which is undesirable and low quality. Lab diamonds that are grown too hot and come out brown can be irradiated to remove the color, resulting in gray color and a cloudy appearance.
- The cost of cutting and polishing a rough diamond into a diamond gemstone is A) significant and B) exactly the same for both grown and mined diamonds. Diamond is the hardest naturally occurring material on Earth, and it can only be cut and polished by other diamonds or multi-million dollar laser tools.
- The process to grow diamonds is one of the most difficult and precise manufacturing techniques ever achieved by humankind. The operation and care of diamond growth equipment takes PhDs and highly skilled technicians. Each diamond production machine ranges from approximately $250k to over $1 million dollars.
Large, high quality lab diamonds require that CVD and HPHT machines run for several weeks or months non-stop while there is still a high failure rate. That means significant opportunity and operational costs for growers that keep the cost of lab diamonds
Lastly, it is far cheaper to mine diamonds that you would think. De Beers self-reported costs to mine diamonds was $104 per carat (for rough diamonds). It is Ada Diamonds' position that the marginal cost to grow each diamond in a laboratory will always be greater than the cost for De Beers and other mining operations to dig diamonds out of the Earth, and the costs to cut, polish, and grade diamonds is exactly the same, regardless of the origin: grown or mined.