Diamonds are most unique materials on earth, their unique properties such as hardness and thermal conductivity makes them suitable for industrial applications and properties such as clarity and brilliance makes them coveted gemstones.
A documentary on BBC news gives a gist of how diamonds are made and the challenges in making diamonds in laboratories. Few highlights from the documentary:
Diamonds are a crystallized form of carbon but differ significantly from another carbon crystallized structure – graphite. The carbon atoms in diamonds are perfectly symmetrical in structure ensuring that there are no weak links and thus making them one of the hardest substances on earth. Diamonds can be cut and polished to give them a brilliance that makes them center pieces of any jewelry.
Diamonds beneath earth are formed under high pressure and high temperature conditions. Due to surface activities like volcanoes, diamonds are brought to the surface. This gives a clue on how to grow diamonds in labs. A team of scientists in GE was successful in replicating the diamond growth process beneath earth and grew the first ever laboratory diamond. Dr. Boris Feigelson in a lab in Russia was successful in growing colored diamonds using a new technique, which is now commonly known as Carbon Vapor Deposition (CVD).
General Carter Clarke met the Russian scientist and in 1996 founded Gemesis Corporation which today is a producer of gem-quality Lab-grown diamonds and jewelry. Other producers are Element Six (a De Beers company), IIa technologies Pte., etc.
In 1999, Lab-grown diamonds were showcased in an exhibition for the first time. This sparked reactions from industry players like DTC, who tried to dismiss the Lab-grown diamonds as not-the-real thing. They have since focused on creating machines that can distinguish Lab-grown diamonds from mined ones, among other things. The Lab-grown diamond manufacturers like Gemesis on the other hand support full disclosure of the source of diamonds. The purpose of the Lab-grown diamonds clearly is not to deceive consumers but provide them with a cheaper and environmentally responsible way of sourcing diamonds.