What Is A CVD Diamond?

What Is A CVD Diamond?

A CVD diamond is one type of lab-grown diamond. Of the two types of lab-grown diamond manufacturing processes (the other being HPHT), CVD diamonds are generally considered to be a bit better in terms of quality.

CVD stands for “chemical vapor deposition”,  a vacuum deposition method, that is commonly used to produce high quality, solid materials – like diamonds – in a laboratory. CVD diamonds have been a well-recognized and ethical source of diamonds for decades. 

Are CVD Lab Grown Diamonds Real Diamonds?

CVD lab-grown diamonds are the exact same chemical composition and crystalline structure as natural diamonds. As a consequence, CVD diamonds possess the exact same physical and optical properties as natural diamonds. To top it off, CVD diamonds also go through the same polishing and cutting process as natural diamonds. 

From the perspective of performance, a CVD lab-grown diamond is identical to a natural diamond, as it is just as hard, just as durable, and just as brilliant as a similarly-cut natural diamond. So, from this perspective, a CVD diamond is very real, indeed.

If, however, your definition of a “real diamond” is one that is mined from the earth, then a CVD diamond is not that. A CVD diamond differs from a mined diamond in terms of source, and how quickly each source is able to produce diamonds. But that’s the only difference.

How are CVD Lab Grown Diamonds Certified?

Much like natural diamonds are often available with laboratory reports certifying their quality, you can also find CVD diamonds that are accompanied by a lab report. In addition to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), there are a number of other reputable gemological laboratories that perform diamond reports on CVD lab-grown diamonds.

As you can see from the sample GIA Lab-Grown Diamond Report, the report includes all kinds of detailed information on the diamond, including shape, cutting style, measurements, carat weight, color, and clarity…among others. It is the most detailed aggregation of information on your diamond.

How Are CVD Diamonds Made?

The GIA indicates that growing CVD diamonds involves the introduction of a gas into the vacuum chamber. As the molecules of the gas are broken down by microwaves, carbon atoms group together on a substrate, like snow falling into a thin film. Carbon atoms continue to attach to the "diamond seed" a layer at a time.

Can You Detect if it is a Lab Grown Diamond?

 A layperson cannot detect a lab-grown diamond by just looking at it. Without magnification, a gemologist or jeweler cannot, either. However, ethically-sold CVD diamonds have a micro-sized laser inscription on the girdle (the thin edge of the diamond at its greatest circumference) that identifies it as being lab grown. So, using a loupe or microscope, a jeweler can certainly identify the lab-grown laser inscription. 

There are lab-grown diamond detecting machines available on the market. Currently, there are no reliable options that are also affordable. Most jewelers, in fact, do not own one that is of the utmost reliability. However, diamond dealers, cutters, and gem labs all have the finest equipment to detect the formation status of a diamond (i.e. lab grown vs natural).

How Long Does It Take to Grow a CVD Diamond?

While it takes a natural diamond billions of years to form, lab-grown diamonds only take about four weeks to grow. The synthesis process uses a lot of energy to make that major shortcut!

Are Lab Grown Diamonds the same as Cubic Zirconia?

Simple answer: no. Both cubic zirconia (which has no natural counterpart) and lab-grown diamonds are synthesized, and therefore, man-made. But they are completely different materials, and therefore have different properties. A cubic zirconia has nowhere near the same durability and hardness as a diamond, for instance…and so therefore a cubic zirconia does not resist scratching, breaking, and clouding like a lab grown diamond.

Are Lab Grown Diamonds the same as Moissanite?

Again, the answer is no. Moissanite was originally found in nature (in a meteorite, no less!), but there are no naturally-forming crystals of a size that could be used in jewelry. So, once again–the laboratory to the rescue, to create some synthetic, man made versions! Moissanite is another completely different material from diamond and cubic zirconia.

Do Lab Grown Diamonds have Inclusions or Get Cloudy?

Yes, lab grown diamonds can have inclusions; and most do. There are also nearly flawless lab grown diamonds available. Just like mined diamonds, lab-grown diamonds do not change in clarity over time (which would include “getting cloudy”); and they are just as resistant to minor scratches and chips, which is another way in which gems can seem to get more cloudy over time.

Are Lab Grown CVD Diamonds Worth Their Price?

Only you can decide. If you want the features of a diamond without the price of a natural one, then a lab grown diamond might just be the right thing for you.

That said, we have an example of how synthesized precious materials can decrease in value over time. Over 100 years ago, a process by which rubies could be synthesized at a “reasonable” cost was invented. These stones were considered a marvel of modern technology, and moneyed folks flocked to buy them…even though they cost more than mined rubies.

Today, lab-grown rubies can be acquired for literally a few dollars.

We have already seen this downward price spiral happen with lab grown diamonds. When they were first synthesized in a lab in 1954, the expense was so high to create them that they were not used in jewelry. 

Over time, greater efficiencies were found in the diamond synthesis process, and therefore their price slowly dropped…and there dropped more quickly.  Lab-grown diamonds first started showing up in the fine jewelry marketplace about 20 years ago, but this current wave is because of the far lesser expense involved in making them today.

In the past five years alone we have seen the price of CVD lab grown diamonds drop dramatically. Since the process to create lab-grown diamonds is far more complex than the one to synthesize rubies, it’s unlikely the price of lab-grown diamonds will completely bottom out, as happened with lab-grown rubies. 

But, it’s a fairly safe bet that while a natural diamond will increase in value over time, a lab-grown one will decrease in value over time. If you just want a beautiful, durable gemstone…and you have no intent of trying to “sell it at a profit,” then a lab-grown diamond might just be the ticket!

If you'd like to learn even more about CVD diamonds, please contact us.

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