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Lab diamond: real or fake diamond?

Diamant de laboratoire : vrai ou faux diamant ?

“Queen of gems”, the diamond is the most precious stone in the world. Embodying purity and the eternal, this coveted gem with its thousand rainbow lights leaves no one indifferent. But do you really know what a diamond is ? What are its exceptional properties? How is it formed in nature? But also how can a diamond be grown in the laboratory? In this article, we are going to give you all the keys to knowing the diamond better and appreciating its unparalleled beauty even more!

What is a diamond?

Diamond is the gemstone with the simplest chemical composition. It is made up of a single pure body: carbon. It is the way in which the carbon atoms are linked which gives it its many qualities and makes it such an exceptional and coveted gem!

The diamond is first of all famous for its property of exceptional hardness! In fact, diamond is the hardest stone on our planet! It also takes its name from the Greek “adamas” which means “indomitable” or “invincible” and for good reason, it is impossible to break or scratch a diamond, except with another diamond . For the more scientific among you, know that diamond is recognized as the hardest mineral on the Mohs scale, a scale measuring the resistance and hardness of minerals from 1 to 10, from the most friable to the hardest. This is one of the reasons why most engagement rings are set with a diamond. : you have the certainty that you will be able to wear your jewel all your life without ever damaging the gem!

Diamond is also a wonderful thermal conductor . When you touch this stone, it may feel cold. The heat from your finger is very quickly absorbed by the stone and this speed of assimilating heat is often used as a means of verification when we wish to identify a real diamond from a fake.

Another of the exceptional qualities of this stone is its refractive index which is the highest of all gems! This quantity describes the way in which light changes direction when it passes from one medium to another. The diamond's refractive index being particularly high, perfect faceting will allow light to be trapped in the gem and reflect from one facet to another. This is how the famous “ diamond fires ” are born, which give this stone exceptional shine and sparkle!

All these properties make the diamond an incredibly irresistible and coveted gem !

How does a diamond form in nature?

To fully understand, let's start with a little geology... About 100 million years ago, diamonds were formed more than 150km underground from pure carbon subjected to extremely high temperatures and pressures (where the temperature varies between 1,300 and 1,500 C° and where the pressure is around 73 tonnes per cm² ). This extreme environment allows carbon atoms to crystallize, and slowly form a diamond . This is a process that takes on average 4 to 6 weeks.

These rough diamonds then lie dormant underground until a volcanic eruption occurs. They rose to the surface with the meteoric rise of molten magma. The latter will create a very hard volcanic rock called kimberlite which will form a sort of cocoon around the diamonds , protecting them during the ascent. Only a small number of diamonds reach the Earth's surface and of these less than 20% are larger than 0.2 carats and less than 5% are larger than 1 carat. It is therefore the rise to the surface of the diamond which can take thousands of years!

But it is not finished ! You then have to come and dig the earth to discover these diamonds now found a few hundred meters underground. By digging, man regularly discovers deposits and opens open-air mines.

A few years ago, scientists discovered the existence of extraterrestrial diamonds from meteorites. Several theories exist:

The first theory is that diamonds were formed in the heart of a planet comparable to ours. As on Earth, certain planets light years away would have the conditions necessary for the crystallization of pure carbon (high pressure and high temperature) and would thus form “extraterrestrial diamonds”.

The second theory, the most likely according to specialists, is that these diamonds were formed during colossal collisions between small planets and large asteroids. The extreme pressure inflicted by the shock associated with the presence of carbon would have formed diamonds.

As you have understood, whether of terrestrial or extraterrestrial origin, the formation of a diamond is a very perilous process, and this makes the gem so special. Unfortunately, diamond mining poses too many ethical and ecological problems, and does not correspond to the values ​​of our jewelry house ODACE.

A diamond mine is disastrous for the environment. As an illustration, in order to obtain one carat of diamond, or 0.2 grams, it is necessary to extract 250 tonnes of ore, waste 450 liters of water and release 160Kg of CO2! Opening a mine also means hectares of vegetation destroyed, communities and animals driven out of their environment, soils and rivers polluted... Not to mention the disastrous working conditions in mines, the overexploitation of human beings, diamonds conflicts and smuggling.

But we have forgotten one place where diamonds can form without mining, without conflict and without extraction: in the laboratory!

How do you grow a lab-grown diamond?

We are often asked what the difference is between a lab-grown diamond and a mined diamond . The truth is that there are none! Today, thanks to technology, we are able to create diamonds that are chemically, physically and visually identical to those formed in nature. It is impossible to differentiate them with the naked eye, with a magnifying glass or even with a x50 microscope! They are both diamonds , certified by the same international gemmological institutes such as the GIA (Gemological Institute of America), the IGI (International Gemological Institute) or the HRD Antwerp. Their only distinction is their origin: one is extracted from the earth, while the other is created by man in a high-tech laboratory with less human and environmental impact.

There are 2 methods to create a synthetic diamond :

The first technique is called HPHT (High Pressure High Temperature). It consists of recreating the natural conditions for the formation of a diamond 150 km underground . A pure carbon seed will be placed in an incubator and subjected for a long time to a very high temperature (1,400°C) and a very high pressure (58,000 atm). The carbon will slowly crystallize to form a rough diamond through germination and growth. After 4 to 6 weeks of cultivation, we obtain a rough diamond of approximately 1 carat (0.2g).

The second method is called CVD (Chemical Vapor Deposition). Still using a seed of pure carbon, this second method consists of growing the diamond layer by layer using carbon dioxide. Raised to very high temperature, this gas (methane – CH4) will transform into plasma and release its carbon atoms. Layer by layer, the carbon atoms will accumulate on the seed and form a rough diamond after 4 to 6 weeks of incubation. 

The innovation of cultured diamonds for jewelry is very recent. It only appeared about fifteen years ago in the United States. Today, there are still very few laboratories capable of growing jewelry-quality diamonds in the world. There are only about fifteen of them! Their production capacities remain very limited, while the demand for cultured diamonds is only increasing. Indeed, more and more jewelry houses like ODACE are choosing cultured diamonds because they have many advantages:

  • More ecological : No extraction also means no holes in the earth, no deforestation, no pollution of soils and rivers...
  • Traceable : There is no intermediary (or only 1) between us and our partner laboratories. No doubt, we know which laboratory our diamonds come from, and under what conditions they were created.
  • More accessible : Lab-grown diamonds are on average 50% cheaper than mined diamonds thanks to the elimination of intermediaries. This allows you to buy a larger stone for the same budget!

We give you more information on this subject in our article “5 good reasons to prefer laboratory diamonds” .

It is also important to emphasize that each diamond is unique (whether extracted from the earth or grown in a laboratory) and its quality depends on a set of criteria called the 4Cs (weight, purity, color and size). If you are interested, we give you more information in our article “Everything about diamond carat” .

This “new” diamond is an ecological, ethical and more accessible alternative to mined diamonds. This innovation ( the synthetic diamond ) is revolutionizing the jewelry industry by making it more responsible, and this is only the beginning!

We hope it is now clearer to you: a lab-grown diamond is indeed a “real” diamond!

If you are still skeptical, do not hesitate to make an appointment with us (link on the header of the home page ), we will be able to welcome you in our Parisian showroom, present our diamonds and our most beautiful creations, and answer all your questions!

If you have any questions, write to us by email at or on our Instagram account , we will be happy to answer them.