Man Made Diamonds – What Are They?

man made diamond

Since the mid 50s, man made diamonds have been developed for industrial uses like cutting and drilling purposes. In recent years, there had been emerging uses for synthetic diamonds like windshields for jet fighters, computer chips and sensors.

Just the other day at Home Depot, I saw a kitchen faucet with a washer that is coated with a thin film of man made diamond. This thin layer of diamond coating ensures that the faucet will never leak or wear out!

Because I am a Gemologist by profession, the industrial applications for man made diamonds are not my main interest. Instead, I love diamonds for their “blingy” and sparkly properties!

Like naturally mined roughs, man made diamonds can be cut, polished, and finished into faceted gemstones. In fact, they are in every way identical to natural diamonds; this review of pure grown diamonds shows you how they look like in real life.

Man made rough diamonds can come in different sizes, shapes, and colors (mostly yellow… but are now becoming available in many more colors). Because of the low cost of manufacturing, they are also offered at a significant discount to natural diamonds.

How are man made diamonds produced?

Today, there are two main processes for creating man made diamonds… If you are wondering whether this is something you can undertake yourself, I’m sorry to tell you that these are sophisticated procedures. Until technology is further developed, you will not be able to make diamonds in your basement for fun and profit.

The two common processes for making man made diamonds in the industry are as follows:

Process #1 – HPHT Process – High Pressure / High Temperature (HPHT)

This process basically reproduces similar conditions in which natural diamonds are formed.

Natural diamonds are formed 100 miles below the surface of the earth under tremendous pressure and heat. The HPHT device to recreate these conditions are a bit larger than the size of a washing machine. When in operation, it will create temperatures of about 1,500°C and 58,000 atm of pressure.

A small carbon seed is then placed into the HPHT chamber under these conditions. And in less than a week it is transformed into a rough diamond crystal.

Common colors for HPHT man made diamonds are yellow, blue, and pink (after irradiation-this ability to alter a diamond’s color is explained in color enhanced diamonds). With advancements in research, green and colorless man made diamonds are also possible.

Nitrogen that is used during the growth process and is mainly responsible for the yellow to orange color.

If you would like to see an interesting 3 min. video showing how HPHT man made diamonds are made then click on this link and a small pop up window will show you the video. If this link is not working, please make sure Java Script is enabled.

Process #2 – CDV Process – Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD)

This method was developed in the 1980s and uses a very different approach to growing man made diamonds. I have heard that this process is similar to how diamonds are formed in outer space.

CVD produces man made diamonds by heating a plasma cloud of hydrocarbon gas over numerous “seed” diamonds which are placed on a metal surface. The seeds quickly grow into little bricks of man made diamonds. Thereafter, the rough diamonds that will be cut and polished into finished diamonds.

Using Chemical Vapor Deposition, the man made diamond’s entire growth process is pretty fast. Typically, it requires only several days to complete the growth. This process has the greatest potential for high tech uses and will produce near colorless man made diamonds for jewelry uses.