Is a lab diamond still a diamond?

I could grow salt crystals in a lab, and everyone would look and say that it’s salt. What is the difference between a diamond created in a lab and a naturally occuring stone? Leave out the part about impurities, most consumers covet flawless diamonds. I’m more interested in the molecular level and physical properties.

Debeers is investing a lot into technology that can tell the difference. My understanding is that they can differentiate man made diamonds from natural diamonds because they fluoresce differently.

You can’t really do that because it IS the impurities that differentiate a laboratory-created diamond from a natural one. There is a no other difference. One of the telling characteristics that helps identify a manmade diamond is the noted lack of impurites, in fact. They are in all other ways identical.

I would think, then, for YOUR purposes, that the impurities, flourescence, and all, would not be a factor.

So, we’re not talking about investment-grade gemstones, but just the quintessential “diamond.”

Given that, the actual structure of the manmade stone would have to be compared against the structure of the naturally-occurring stone.

If both were pure and flawless, I don’t see where there would be any difference. But if there were still tell-tale structural differences, like flourescence, then I would have to say that they were indeed different.

Only when there is no detectable difference will the two be the same. Right now, they are not quite the same.

I’d probably say the same about your salt crystals. Under the most rigorous test available, would they display the exact physical charasteristics as natural salt? This would be difficult, as there are a lot of salts out there. And it is the impurities in them that give them their distinct characteristics. Slat is just too broad a thing, better to stick with diamonds. Taste is probably the least important thing in determining what is natural or manmade salt.

Gooood question!

…Which is due to impurities in the natural diamonds.

Also, it raises the question of: “So what? Why should consumers care if you can distinguish between natural and lab diamonds? What makes natural diamonds more desirable than the lab ones?”

There are different techniques used to make artificial diamonds and they differ in closeness to the qualities that define a real diamond. Gemesis makes “cultured” diamonds that have all the physical properties of a real diamond according to the linked page and what I read elsewhere. I could have sworn I read about a company just a little while ago that is refining a process to mass produce diamonds that are indistinguishable from mined diamonds. They went so far as introducing the same flaws that a real diamond would tend to have.

What is it that causes fluorescence?

Virtually all materials fluoresce to some extent when exposed to one wavelength of light or another. In diamonds, it’s the impurities that cause a difference in the fluorescence spectrum. Completely pure diamonds have their own, distinct fluoresence. Introducing trace impurities changes that characteristic fluorescence.

I believe it was Boston base Apollo Diamond that I read about. They can produce just about any diamond they want to.

Like a lot of the stuff we have beyond food and shelter, marketing is what makes this bauble better than that bauble.

Man made diamonds were nothing great for gem stones. The new method was compared to natural gems and the man made ones are of exceptional quality. They filmed the chambers that are grown these diamonds, and they showed the seed that they currently were using. The seed was a sheet about 6 inches across. The seed is going to get wider as the years go by. Their aplications in electronics should led to some great high end chips. The optical lens will have a place in the high tech market.

I believe I read that DeBeers is starting an ad campaign to tout that “real diamonds are the real thing” or some such bull, because someone had come up with a manmade diamond that was pretty much indistinguishable from the real thing. So girls will make sure their diamonds have a certificate of authinticity (sp?) or something. What a bunch of crap. From what I read in the article, these manmade diamonds may be much more useful (size,shape, clarity) than the “real thing.”

I don’t like diamonds, they’re too cold. I like turquoise.

Short answer: yes, it’s a diamond.

Slightly longer answer: for a long time, we didn’t have the technology to synthesise diamonds that were identical to natural diamonds. The synthetic ones were OK for some industrial purposes, but it was easy to tell the difference between synthetic and natural because they had different physical properties. The cosmetic diamond industry was (to some extent) justified in claiming that there were no substitute for a ‘real’ diamond, meaning one that has come from a hole in the ground and had been cut and polished.

Those days are over. After several false starts (there were many tough technological challenges to be overcome) there are companies now with the technology to produce synethetic diamonds that cannot be distinguished from ‘hole in the ground’ diamonds in any way, either in terms of their physical and chemical properties, or in terms of their look or suitability for cosmetic applications.

For a while, and until the technical problems were solved, deBeers and their associates in the worldwide natural diamond cartel rebutted every claim that a synthetic diamond was ‘the same’ as a natural one, and were quick to devise ‘tests’ that purported to preserve the distinction. Now, there is no acceptable scientific argument that says it is possible to tell synthetic from naturally-occurring. They are identical. In every way. As some posters have stated, the only difference in terms of the cosmetic characteristics of ‘real’ diamonds has to do with lack of purity, and the makers of synth diamonds can introduce impurities into their processes if they wish.

The battle now is one of semantics and marketing. deBeers will continue to peddlethe line that it’s only a real diamond if it comes from a hole in the ground. Their marketing employs a simple guilt trip, essentially saying that if you give your loved one a ‘real’ diamond, that’s a classy thing to do, whereas if you resort to a ‘synthetic’ diamond you’re a cheapskate who can’t be bothered to pay for ‘the real thing’. Real diamond = real love, fake diamond = ??? . This is flapdoodle, but many a successful marketing campaign has been buiilt on shakier foundations than this, and at the end of the day emotions and aspirations have as much to do with commercial success as anything you might classify as ‘reason’.

But the two are now identical.

Maybe a counter advertising campaign might point out just how many nasty little tinpot dictators and tribal warlords are benefitting from those ‘real’ diamonds, and the lab ones are much better, both in terms of impurities, and morally - maybe some pictures of orphans next to a De Beers advertising slogan would help too.

Reminds me of that music video that Kayne West did. Is it called “Diamonds are Forever”?

Anyone know what it costs to produce a (man-made) diamond?

“Diamonds from Sierra Leone.”

Of course, there was “Diamonds Are Forever” by Shirley Bassey. Actually, I would laugh my head off if DeBeers tried to use that in a commerical.

[QUOTE=robbyWhat makes natural diamonds more desirable than the lab ones?"[/QUOTE]
I was going to say “advertising” but I see that Nakescatlady beat me to it.

Ho-Hum… A subject I could gleefully wax lyrical about…!

‘Is a lab diamond still a diamond’

Well, essentially, everything **Ianzin ** says is in fact true, and in essence, accurate.

HOWEVER, whilst it is not GENERALLY possible for the man on the street to distinguish a real diamond from a ‘not-real’ diamond, and indeed is often not possible for a jeweller or the like to do soeither by the naked eye alone, it IS usually a simple task for a Gemmologist or an experienced jeweller to tell the difference with only the use of a simple pen-like instrument which such people (those who work in the field or who have dealings in it) tend to carry round in their pockets along with the requisite jewellers magnifying glass.

Again Ianzin is correct in pointing out that with the advances in technology and the processes involved, the ‘not real’ diamonds are in effect diamonds!

Gems of all descriptions have been simulated for many years of course, not just diamonds, and fairly succesfully so too, but diamond has always been the one to elude a REALLY good imitation! Why? Well, first and foremost, Diamond has a hardness of 10 - and ranks TOP of the Moh’s Scale of Hardness - the benchmark for ALL gemmologists when testing what a stone /gem actually is. By way of comparison, Corrundum (Rubies and Sapphires, are 9 but the gap between 9 and 10 on the scale, is stratospheric!) To manufacture something which would mimmick, let alone equal THAT level of hardness has always been the biggest hurdle of all.

In nature of course, it takes temperatures of thousands of degrees (in the moulten lava which is hot enough to turn ROCK into liquid) to do so, so in the manufacturing world, the logistics and the practicalities of prodcing such temperatures, and doing so safely was - lets say a challenge - and for what? To produce a stone which could be worn in jewellery? So there was also the practical side of was it worth it? After all, how many diamonds do you buy in a life time (generall), and at what sort of cost? Would the cost of producing such an item be equal to the demand? All things to be considered.

As regards the impurities - it used to be a tell tale sign of a really good imitation diamond that it was TOO perfect. Naturally occuring diamond are seldom flawless - hence their hugely inflated value when they are - so the ‘process’ if you like was almost too good - it didnt allow for or mimmick the naturally occurring imperfections that characterized the real thing. It is true however that nowadays, imitation diamonds CAN, ALSO exhibit impurities, although Ive yet to see one that actually LOOKS genuine - impurities wise - under the eye glass. (The impurities by the way are usually Carbon - the very thing which IS diamond!
Good eh?

At the end of the day, it matters not in many ways whether a diamond is real or not real. If they both have the same properties, the same hardness, the same chemical make up, then to all intent and purpose, they ARE the same, BUT the difference is in the knowledge that one is naturally occuring and one isnt.

As to whether DeBeers use the natural /real angle to aid their sells? You betcha they do! I dealt with De Beers for many years - nice guys - very nice in fact - but they are also EXCEPTIONAL businessmen - AND they know their stuff!

Oh, and one last thing…whichever side of the fence you sit on as to whether you prefer naturally occuring or man made? It is, after all, however much or little you pay for it…?

JUST A ROCK!!! (albeit a pretty one!) :smiley: