Synthetic diamonds: from lab to Antwerp diamond district
What are synthetic diamonds?
Synthetic diamonds are diamonds that were created exclusively in a laboratory, by man, through a technological process. They were not the result of thousands of years of geological processes such as natural diamonds.
Synthetic diamonds actually have essentially the same crystal structure, chemical composition and optical & physical properties as natural diamonds do. Making them extremely difficult to differentiate from natural diamonds. This is part of a crucial problem that is being experienced in the trade, including in the Antwerp diamond district, because it is not always disclosed that a diamond is synthetic. Therefore, it is always important to ask for a certificate from a reputed lab, or buy from a trusted source.
Which process is used to create synthetic diamonds?
Most synthetic diamonds are man made following these two technological processes:
- HPHT - High pressure High Temperature: in this method, a press is used to provide the right amount of pressure and temperature for the diamond to grow, just like in the natural process. A diamond seed is placed at the bottom of the press. Then starts the process with the solvent metal being melt which in turn dissolves the high purity carbon, which is then transported to the seed and precipitates, forming the large synthetic diamond.
- CVD - Chemical Vapour Deposition: Is a very different method whereby the synthetic diamond can be formed from a hydrocarbon gas mixture. This method offers considerably more flexibility, is more simple and increasingly more popular in labs. This type of growth involves substrate preparation, meaning feeding different amounts of gases into a chamber and energising them.
Synthetic diamonds on the market
Synthetic diamonds that were essentially created for industrial purposes at first, are becoming increasingly popular on the retail market. There are several reasons for this among which: ethical questions and what we call blood diamonds & ethical supply chain; even celebrities have been promoting synthetic diamonds as the better alternative for millennials worried about ethics. Then comes rarity, diamonds are rare and the worlds supplies may not last forever. And lastly, size, since a synthetic diamond costs on average 30-40% cheaper than a natural diamond of the same size so why not choose a synthetic one to get a bigger stone?
Diamonds over the years have made their way onto the market, including in the Antwerp diamond district. Diamantaires and retailers are being asked more and more in the Antwerp diamond district, but also around the world, whether they sell synthetic diamonds. Customers are interested, so some traders are extending their portfolio to include them in their stock too.
BAUNAT believes in natural diamonds and only sells natural diamonds with the right lab certificates certifying this. BAUNAT strongly believes in an ethical supply chain and complies to the Kimberley process rules.