When most people hear the term CVD diamond, they pause for a moment. You might even have done a double-take just now, and for good reason – it’s not a term many of us hear or read often.
Chemical Vapour Deposition diamonds are lab-grown diamonds. They have the brilliance and shine we know and love about naturally sourced stones, but they don’t have the same environmental or social impact. Find out everything you need to know about CVD diamonds with our guide below.
What Are CVD Diamonds?
Natural diamonds are formed far below the surface of the earth over billions of years. CVD diamonds are grown in labs in a much shorter period of time, using a process known as Chemical Vapour Deposition. They’re certainly making their presence felt in diamond industry trends.
Are CVD Diamonds Real Diamonds?
You might be wondering if “lab-grown” is another way of saying “synthetic.” The short answer is “yes,” but that doesn’t mean a CVD diamond isn’t a real diamond. They might not be made in the same way as natural diamonds, but everything about them, from their atomic structure to their fire and brilliance, is identical to stones that formed deep underground over millennia.
In 2018, the United States’ Federal Trade Commission ruled that synthetic diamonds such as CVD and natural diamonds are the same thing – real diamonds! In fact, most trained jewellers cannot tell the difference between naturally formed and CVD diamonds.
How CVD Diamonds Are Made
CVD diamonds are made by placing a thin sliver of diamond (usually synthetic) known as a “seed diamond” in a sealed chamber that’s usually heated to approximately 800°C. A carbon-rich mixture of hydrogen and methane is then pumped into the chamber.
The gases are ionised, which breaks down their molecular bonds. The pure carbon released by the process attaches to the seed diamond and forms atomic bonds with it. This process continues over a few weeks, resulting in a larger diamond identical to those formed underground. It takes approximately one month to grow a one-carat CVD diamond.
The Origin And History Of CVD Diamonds
General Electric created the first lab-grown diamond in 1955, a year after the first patent for CVD diamonds was issued. However, the first gem quality reports for diamonds made by CVD were met with scepticism. Those reports weren’t verified until many years later.
DeBeers bought the high pressure high temperature (HPHT) technology for lab-grown diamonds from General Electric and shelved it for years. Even though that technology wasn’t used for decades, it laid the foundation that led to developments that ultimately resulted in the creation of the first real CVD diamonds in the 1980s.
How To Identify A CVD Diamond
There’s no way to tell the difference between a natural and CVD diamond by sight. Instead, jewellers and diamond specialists need to use special tools to identify lab-grown gems. Jewellers and gemologists need to examine the diamond under a microscope or subject it to various tests in the lab.
When purchasing a diamond, it’s best to ask the jeweller or dealer if it was sourced naturally or grown in a lab.
The Pros And Cons Of CVD Diamonds
There are a few pros and cons to CVD diamonds. Consider them when deciding whether to purchase a natural or lab-grown diamond.
Pros of CVD Diamonds
- CVD diamonds have sparkle, fire, and brilliance
- Lab-grown diamonds are cheaper than natural stones
- They’re available in different shapes, sizes, and colours
- A CVD diamond can be grown in 6-8 weeks
- Lab-grown stones don’t have the same environmental impact as mined stones
- Lab-grown diamonds do not originate from areas of conflict – they’re not blood diamonds
Cons of CVD Diamonds
- There are no CVD diamond regulations or specifications so you can’t be sure of what you’re getting
- They are not widely available
- Lab-grown do not come with GIA certification
- Some renowned jewellery brands refuse to sell CVD diamonds
How Much Do CVD Diamonds Cost
CVD diamonds usually cost between 20% and 30% less than naturally sourced diamonds. You could pay the same amount of money for a 2-carat CVD as you would for a 1.5-carat mined diamond. The reasons for the differences in price include the enormous costs involved in mining, the mined diamond supply chain, and mined diamond price manipulation.
CVD Diamond Vs Cubic Zirconia
A CVD diamond is not a cubic zirconia. Whereas diamonds made by CVD are made of pure crystalline carbon, cubic zirconia is made from synthetic zirconium dioxide and are designed to resemble diamonds. The resemblance is a passing one, because a cubic zirconia does not have the fire and brilliance of natural or lab-grown diamonds.
CVD Diamonds Vs HPHT Diamonds
CVD diamonds are made in chambers with high temperatures and ionised gases. HPHT diamonds are made in labs that use equipment to mimic the high pressures and high temperatures in which diamonds are formed deep under the surface of the earth. CVD and HPHT diamonds have different growing patterns (morphology). Both types are real diamonds.
CVD Diamond Vs Moissanite
CVD diamond is quite different to Moissanite, which is silicon carbide. Although Moissanite does occur naturally, it is incredibly rare, having been discovered in the late 19th century after a meteorite fell to earth. Most Moissanite available today is synthetic. Moissanite is referred to as a diamond simulant. It might look like the real thing at a glance, but look closer, and you’ll see that the colour and brilliance of Moissanite is not like that of a real diamond. Moissanite is also not as durable as the real thing.
What Is The Future Trend Of CVD Diamonds?
CVD diamonds might not be as widely available as natural mined diamonds at the moment, but that looks set to change in the future. According to MarketWatch, the global CVD diamond market was valued at US$374.4 million in 2019. The market is expected to grow to $568.9 million by the end of 2026, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 7.7% over the next five years.
One of the biggest drivers of the predicted growth is the growing interest in lab-grown diamonds among Millennials and Generation Z. As many as 70% of Millennials consider purchasing a lab-grown diamond when looking at engagement rings. Their interest in CVD diamonds and diamond alternatives is due to the environmental and social impact of mined diamonds.
A Beautiful Alternative
A CVD diamond is a beautiful and affordable alternative to a natural mined diamond. Consider going the lab-grown route when buying jewellery or loose stones in future.