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The Innovation Behind The Synthetic Diamond

As our world makes strides with technology, we need to find a way keep up with market needs
for rare natural resources. One of the most rare, of course, are diamonds. As technology has
developed and the desire for diamonds has never been bigger, scientists have developed
procedures to re-create the chemical compound of diamonds that take a matter of weeks as
opposed to thousands of years.

These synthetic diamonds are most commonly created by these two processes Chemical Vapor
Deposition (CVD) and High Pressure and High Temperature (HPHT) . Both of which begin by
using a diamond seed- which is a small part of the diamond, usually with the strongest growing
pattern. Advancements have come so far in diamond creating processes, that scientists have
found that synthetic diamonds even have their own unique grain, similar to natural diamonds,
which makes them even more difficult to identify from the real thing.

The process which is currently favoured by scientists is Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD).
The reason for being the top choice for scientists as the machines are much smaller than the
HPHT machines, and they also create less force. Less force means less energy resources used
in the production process. Though the process is similar since it is using extreme heat and
temperature, it uses gases like hydrogen and methane as opposed to solid forms of carbon.

First, the gases are pushed into a vacuum chamber while simultaneously applying state-
changing temperatures. Then the resulting plasma-like substance gets layered onto the
diamond seed within the chamber. The layering process can be compared to 3-D printing.

This does come with a few setbacks though, main issue being the diamond colours were
inconsistent in early years, however with higher carbon heating processes and different types of
carbon, scientists have been able to create diamonds of much greater clarity. Not to mention are
able to control the hue of diamond that is getting manufactured. Making the synthetic diamonds
even harder to identify next to natural diamonds with the naked eye.

High Pressure, High Temperature (HPHT) was the first type of synthetic diamond formation
process starting in the early 1900’s. Currently, scientists have developed machines that produce
the same amount of pressure as the earth’s crust (also creating pressure from all angles) while
simultaneously heating the carbon materials to temperatures over 3000 degrees Celsius.

 

Through the combination of these processes with a metal stimulant, the chemical compound of
the carbon changes to form a diamond seed. The entire process takes under 2 weeks, and
produces a diamond of similar clarity to a natural diamond. However, this process is fairly costly
since it is re-creating the same force as the earth, which requires a high amount of energy
resources.

With these two processes the diamond mining process has evolved into a diamond creating
process, adding a whole new market for the diamond industry. Though both of these processes
face similar challenges, energy consumption and colour clarity, the most recent advancements
with technology are making these diamonds even more accessible to consumers and are
making it more and more difficult to tell the synthetic diamonds apart from natural ones.

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