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  • Matt Spencer

Can Diamonds Be Manufactured?

Can Diamonds Be Manufactured?

Ever heard the phrase: “SHINE BRIGHT LIKE A DIAMOND”? Well, the technically-minded diamond experts will correct tell you that diamonds actually don’t shine… they reflect. Diamonds were first discovered and mined in India over 2400 years ago and over time, were discovered in other areas around the world, including Africa.

Today, Africa, Russia, Australia, and Canada produce the most diamonds. (See image below)

Diamonds – the hardest substance found in nature – can be useful in many applications from jewellery to industrial uses. Due to its rarity and subsequent cost of using diamonds in various applications, it is cost-prohibitive to use natural diamonds in each case. This has prompted companies to find ways to create artificial diamonds for use especially in industrial applications.

Artificial Diamonds

Artificial diamonds are made in a factory that mimics the natural production of diamonds. Just as in nature, the process begins with carbon. The artificial production of diamonds began with a man named Henri Moissan in 1893 who created the first primitive man-made diamonds. In 1892, Moissan theorised that by crystallizing carbon under pressure from molten iron he could make diamonds. 

Moissan then designed and developed the electric-arc furnace, which could attain temperatures up to 3,500° C. With this he was able to make tiny artificial stones. [Source: Wonderpolis.org]

Numerous scientists and engineers replicated this idea, making adjustments to produce better quality results. It was not until 1954 that the first commercially available man-made diamonds were produced.

The astounding thing was that despite the higher availability of diamonds in the market, the prices did not decline as one would have expected. This is mainly due to the fact that the man-made diamonds were not only quite small but also manufactured primarily for industrial applications. [Source: Wonderpolis.org]

How are artificial diamonds made?

There has been enormous demand for artificial diamonds, which in turn caused mass production by various companies. There are two ways companies produce artificial diamonds: 

  1. The first synthetic method is called High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) . This is the closest thing to the diamond-producing bowels of the Earth, subjecting graphite (correct, the material in a No. 2 pencil, which is made from pure carbon) to intense pressure and heat. Tiny anvils in an HPHT machine squeeze down on the graphite as intense electricity zaps it, producing a gem-quality diamond in just a few days. These diamonds, however, aren’t as pure as natural diamonds because a metallic solution is mixed in with the graphite.

  2. The second diamond-producing method used to make artificial diamonds is called Chemical Vapor Deposition  (CVD). This is a revolutionary form of diamond making that has been turning heads. It turns its back on intense pressure but cranks out diamonds more flawlessly than nature can produce!

Manufacturers place a small diamond into a depressurizing chamber then zap natural gas with a microwave beam. As the gas is heated to almost 2,000 degrees, carbon atoms “rain” down onto the diamond in the chamber and stick to it, growing a perfect sheet of diamond overnight. A lot of research goes on behind the scenes to perfect the artificial diamond making process. CVD is also a fairly costly process, which causes companies to return to the less appealing HPHT process.                                                                                           [Source: Wonderpolis.org]

“A diamond is a chunk of coal that is made good under pressure.” ~ Henry Kissinger 

What would you choose, a natural diamond or an artificial diamond? Does your decision depend on what it’s used for?

If you’re buying diamonds, as jewellery, would you mind whether it is natural diamond or artificial, even if they both look exactly the same?

This article was researched by Moises Padre.

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