Synthetic diamonds have everything that natural diamonds offer, but unlike them are absolutely perfect and cost four times less.
“Synthetic” is not the right term to name it, because they contain nothing synthetic – they are absolutely natural and the only difference is that they are grown by man in conditions that duplicate natural ones. So the correct name is laboratory-grown or cultivated diamonds.
First experimental attempts to cultivate diamonds dated from the beginning of 20th century but it was a long way to reach the fist success. In 1814 Humphrey Davy and Michael Faraday finally proved that the diamond, graphite and coal are connected and are made of carbon. Scottish chemist James Ballantyne Hannay first reported that in proper conditions – enormous pressure and very high temperature graphite suppose to transform to diamond.
HPHT Synthetic Diamonds
This, exactly, is the first method of producing diamonds named “high-pressure high-temperature” or shortly HPHT. It took some time before technology was ready to provide the necessary environment for the purpose. This finally happened in the end of 50s of 20th century almost simultaneously in Russia, Sweden and the U.S. Over the next decade begins mass production of synthetic diamonds of this type.
There are 3 types of presses for HPHT diamonds: the belt press, the cubic press and the split-sphere (BARS). In the process the inner part of the press is heated up to 1400 degrees Celsius. Inside is placed the” diamond seed” and the new diamond forms and grows around it. This is the most popular method for production of synthetic diamonds
CVD Synthetic Diamonds
In 1961 the second technology is reported: chemical vapor deposition or CVD, method by using plasma and hydrocarbon gases exposed to microwaves that makes diamond grow on special substrates. This method is much more flexible and allows the process to be controlled in regards to size, chemical impurities and properties of the diamond.
Detonation nanodiamond, used for diamond polishers and abrasives
“Detonation nanodiamond”, or ultradispersed diamond (UDD) is another technology for synthetic diamond production, this time by explosions of carbon-containing explosives. The reaction happens in metal chamber where the pressure and temperature become high enough to convert the carbon of the explosives into diamond. This technology is successfully tested first in 1962 in the former Soviet Union. Because of its size and uniformity of grain this type of synthetic diamond is widely used as polishing and abrasive material.
Synthetic diamonds in Industry
Nowadays synthetic diamonds manufacturing is very developed industry. The high demand for synthetic diamonds is mostly due to their underlying quality-hardness. It is used for machining, drilling, cutting and polishing activities of other hard materials, including other diamonds. The most common industrial use of synthetic diamonds is for tipped drill bits and saws, and the use of diamond powder as an abrasive.
Diamond also has high thermal and electrical conductivity. This makes it very usable in electronic appliances. Synthetic diamonds take only 2% of the gemstone market where natural diamonds are strongly preferred, even having in mind that most synthetic diamonds are superior to the natural ones. In order to distinguish synthetic from natural more easily producers add laser-inscribes serial numbers on all of its gemstones.