Articles / Synthetic Diamonds... and What You Should Know About Them

Believe it or not, scientists now have the ability to create diamonds in a laboratory using intense heat and pressure - the same conditions that formed natural diamonds 200 miles below the earth's surface more than three billion years ago.

The man-made diamonds are commonly called "synthetic" or "created" stones. They are absolutely genuine diamonds, in that they have the same chemical composition, brilliance, hardness and atomic structure as natural stones.

A reputable jeweler must always disclose whether a diamond is natural or synthetic. Because of the difficulty related to identifying synthetics, many diamond buyers get reassurance from a gemological laboratory, which can provide an identification report. The Gemological Institute of America, a highly regarded institution, receives more inquiries from consumers on synthetic diamonds than on any other subject. The GIA only identifies whether a stone is a synthetic; it will not evaluate a synthetic's quality. It urges the public not to confuse diamond simulants, such as cubic zirconia, with synthetic diamonds. A simulant does not have the same brilliance, hardness or chemical properties of a diamond.

The GIA has assigned acronyms to two types of synthetic diamonds: CVD and HPHT. The first type, using chemical vapor deposition (CVD), are diamonds grown at very high temperatures, but very low pressures. The second type is formed using high pressure/high temperature (HPHT) and are produced by several companies throughout the world. The CVD process grows thin brown to near colorless synthetic crystals, whereas the HPHT method produces a variety of colors including yellow, blue, green, pink, red, purple and colorless.

There is nothing inherently wrong with synthetic diamonds, say experts, but jewelry industry leaders want to make certain the consumer knows exactly what he or she is getting. Recently, a synthetic diamond producer started marketing his product as "cultured diamonds." This caused an uproar because "cultured" is a term the industry would like reserved for pearls.

David WeissDavid Weiss

Graduate Gemologist, GIA
Certified Appraiser