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Arts

REUTERS
October 12, 2017
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Lab-grown diamonds seek to outshine its mined counterparts

This shiny, sparkly diamond was made inside a laboratory - but it has the same chemical makeup as its counterpart found deep inside the earth.

Kelly Good, Director of Marketing Pure Grown Diamonds, says "All the composition is exactly the same. It is a real diamond. What we've done is we've just taken what's happened in nature and just put it in a lab."

Essentially, all diamonds are carbon. And inside a laboratory, scientists are using a method called microwave plasma chemical vapour deposition to grow the stones from a diamond seed. They do it by creating a plasma ball made of hydrogen inside a growth chamber. Methane, which is a carbon source, is added. The carbon mix rains down on the diamond seeds, layer by layer, creating a large, rough diamond that is cut and polished. The process takes about 10 to 12 weeks. Marketers tout the lab-grown diamonds as an eco-friendly, conflict-free alternative to mined diamonds.

Kelly says "Our consumer is millennials, anybody who is getting engaged are really buying the lab-grown diamonds. They also like the fact of the environmental aspect of it. That it's grown in a greenhouse. There is less soil being moved. We have a less carbon footprint."

While similar in appearance, there are differences.

David Weinstein, Executive Director of International Institute, says "I have a crystal, a diamond and I'm looking at it and I see a peridot crystal, a green peridot crystal, I know right away, this wasn't created in a machine. So the inclusions can really be very telling as to what the origins of the material is. And that's what our gemologists look for."

While lab-grown gems have been around for decades, but it's only recently that the science and technology have made it possible to grow large, gem quality stones. And according to a report by Morgan Stanley, the lab-grown diamond market could grow by about 15 percent by the year 2020.

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