Why “synthetic” is an incorrect name for a lab-grown diamond
The term ‘synthetically made diamonds’ is scientifically inaccurate for diamond, as a diamond is not a synthesis of multiple chemical ingredients. A diamond is one element, carbon, and since no one has yet synthesised carbon, there is no such thing as a synthetic diamond.
From a scientific chemist’s standpoint, growing a diamond involves merely changing one form of carbon (graphite) into another form of carbon, (diamond), – exactly as with an earth-mined, and as such no synthesis occurs.
You can’t synthesize an element. There is no such thing as synthetic gold or platinum or carbon or diamond. Synthesis is the combining of different chemicals to form a complex molecule in order to create a similar natural product such as synthetic leather or synthetic rubber.
The growth of diamonds in a laboratory is not synthetic, as a diamond that is grown in a lab, is not a complex molecule.
‘Synthetic’ is also defined as ‘Not natural or genuine: artificial or contrived, fake, imitation’. Since lab-grown diamonds are the same as earth-mined, it is no longer acceptable to call only an earth-mined diamond ‘natural’ Both are in fact natural, so lab-grown diamonds can’t be called synthetic.
This compares to synthetic-coloured gemstones such as sapphires, rubies, and emeralds, which do in fact fit the definition of being created from ‘the execution of chemical reactions to form a more complex molecule. These types of synthetics are created from a complex soup of chemicals to artificially grow their crystals. They also have a stigma as being cheaper version of their ‘real’ counterparts. They are easily identified by their chemical and physical characteristics and often give themselves away by looking ‘too good to be true’.
‘Synthetic’ is the preferred name used by the mining diamond industry to describe lab-grown diamonds, as they believe that the term ‘synthetic’ cheapens the product and promotes their view of the ‘fake-ness’ of lab-created diamonds, in their attempt to denigrate lab-grown diamonds and to create confusion between lab-grown diamonds (which are diamonds) and lab-grown diamond simulants (which are not diamonds). Other terms used to describe Lab grown diamonds are ‘cultured diamonds’ or ‘lab cultured diamonds’ or ‘man made diamonds.’
Why it is also wrong to only call earth mined diamonds ‘Natural’
Simply put both are composed of pure crystalized carbon.
Recently in America, there has been a sweeping change in the FTC’s ruling on diamond description, (the same body as our Commerce Commission), It removed the previously specified term, ‘natural’ origin used by the earth mined industry to promote their diamonds as ‘superior’ when defining a diamond. Previously the FTC definition stated a diamond was a natural mineral consisting essentially of pure carbon crystalized in the Cubic system. Now the word ‘natural’ has been erased.
The FTC has now ruled: “The Commission no longer defines a ‘diamond’ by using the term ‘natural’ because it is no longer accurate to define diamonds as ‘natural’ when it is now possible to create products that have essentially the same optical, physical, and chemical properties as mined diamonds.
Is A Cubic Zirconia or Moissanite the Same As A Lab Grown Diamond?
Definitely Not. They are totally different materials. Diamonds are made entirely from carbon, whereas cubic zirconia and synthetic Moissanite contains no carbon! Both have a different light performance and pattern and are much weaker than diamonds structurally. Any jeweller can easily tell cubic zirconia or a Moissanite vs an earth mined or lab-grown diamond.
There are some websites who are selling CZ’s stones and calling them ‘synthetic diamonds’. This is untrue and fraudulent. There is little policing of such practices which could protect the consumer so unfortunately it is a case of ‘buyer beware’. Adamastar would never claim our diamonds are other than what they truly are – actual diamonds.
More information about lab-grown diamonds
Diamond testers and their limitations
Even a reputable jeweller cannot tell the difference between a lab-grown diamond and an earth-mined diamond using his standard in-store testing equipment.
Most jewellers have and use instruments to separate earth mined diamonds from the two main diamond simulants, cubic zirconia and moissanite. Until now, these have done a good job, but they cannot separate these two simulants, from lab-grown diamonds, resulting in an incorrect and potentially reputation damaging due to miss identification.
The reason for the possible miss-identification is that moissanite/diamond testers use electrical conductivity, (or the lack of it) to separate moissanite from diamond, (98% of earth-mined diamonds are not electrically conductive, due to impurities in the crystal itself), so the jeweller can miss-identify type II laboratory diamond as moissanite as both are electrically conductive. The lack of impurities and the tiny presence of Boron in lab grown diamonds is what makes them electrically conductive and defines them as the rare Type II ‘blue diamond’ quality.
Are lab-grown diamonds cheaper to produce than mined diamonds?
Actually no! In fact, it is costlier to produce a lab-grown diamond than to extract earth-mined diamonds for the following reasons:
It requires an incredibly controlled environment to produce a gem-quality diamond. Any slight shift or change in heating or pressure can cause the diamond to stop growing or can create inclusions that result in unusable diamonds. You cannot speed up the growth rate; there is a well-known speed limit. Every diamond must complete the entire growth cycle before the machine can be opened. The growth speed limit will not change no matter how large the lab-grown diamond industry becomes in the decades ahead.
When it comes to cutting and polishing the rough, either from a lab-grown or an earth-mined diamond, it makes no difference as to the origin, as the cost is the same for both. Diamond, being the hardest naturally occurring material on Earth can only be cut and polished by another diamond or with multi-million-dollar laser cutting tools. As both mined and laboratory grown gems are diamonds of the same physical properties, it will always cost the same amount of money to cut and polish them. The process used to grow diamonds is one of the most difficult and precise manufacturing techniques ever achieved. The operation and care of diamond growth equipment can’t be carried out by cheap labour as it takes PhDs and highly skilled technicians. Each diamond production machine ranges from approximately $250k to over $1 million dollars.