Since its discovery, diamond has fascinated men.

While the origin of its exploitation dates back to 3000 years in India, it is its exceptional hardness that first made it famous and pushed men to confer magical powers, using it as an amulet carried in the form of raw diamond.

While today diamond is best known for its brilliance, it wasn't until the mid-fourteenth century before diamond cutting techniques developed.

Previously, diamonds worn in jewelry had an opaque diamond appearance like the one shown in the following photo.

Raw diamond

Opaque raw diamond visible from two different angles, read our article on raw diamonds

 

Free Bonus : Download our complete guide on Diamond (fr).

You'll discover all you need to know to buy diamonds jewelry online or in store.

Natural formation and synthesis by men

Diamond is a crystal of carbon atoms organized in a cubic network that forms naturally in the bowels of the Earth between 150 and 200 kilometers deep.

Extreme conditions of temperature (from 1100 to 1400 ° C) and pressure (60 000 bars) are required to crystallize the mineral carbon present in the Earth's mantle. Thus buried, it's the volcanic eruptions that allow diamonds to rise to the surface.

It wasn't until 1797 that a scientist showed that diamonds were made of pure carbon, and then it wasn't until the middle of the twentieth century that chemists succeeded in synthesizing diamonds.

If we all have in mind the use of diamonds in the jewelry sector, it's the industry that is pushing to develop the process of industrial diamond production, which is in great need of hard materials.

Diamond is the hardest material known to date.

Applications 

In its early days in the industry, diamond was used primarily for its hardness and was used for cutting tools.

Nowadays, its optical properties make it possible to use it for the design of sensors, its biocompatibility makes it possible to use it for medical applications and its neutrality with regard to bases and acids makes it possible to use it for electrochemistry .

Finally, it's also beginning to be used as a semiconductor in advanced electronics. To learn more about its industrial applications, watch this video.

Manufacture process

There are currently three techniques for synthesizing diamond :

  • HPHT (High Pressure, High Temperature): aims to reproduce in a reactor the natural process of diamond formation by subjecting carbon to the temperatures and pressures necessary for its crystallization (duration of a few hours).
  • CVD (Chemical Vapor Deposition): Diamond is created by thin layers by deposition from a plasma.
  • Ethanol : A water / ethanol solution is sprayed creating a diamond deposit on the target support.

    Diamond synthesis

    Schematic diagram of the HPHT process with a raw diamond produced by this method.

    Fake diamonds 

    Do not confuse synthetic diamonds with fake diamonds.

    Artificial diamonds are indeed real diamonds, produced by men with industrial means.

    These physical, chemical and optical characteristics are in all respects identical to that of diamond extracted from a mine (their differentiation of real diamonds poses some problems in the jewelry industry).

    As for fake diamonds, they're natural stones (physical and chemical properties) different from diamonds that can be confused visually with diamonds. This is why in case of doubt about the authenticity of a stone, we'll call on a gemologist.

    Different natural crystals or syntheses are used to imitate the diamond :

    • Zirconia (CZ for Cubic Zirconia) : Zirconium oxide (ZrO2) is a ceramic used in its transparent form to imitate diamond. Warning, it shouldn't be confused with zircon, natural crystal formula ZrSiO4.
    • Moissanite : it's silicon carbide.
    • White sapphire
    • Garnet (YAG) : This is a YAG synthetic garnet for Yttrium Aluminum Garnet.

       

      Given the differences in physical properties between diamond and its imitations, there are different techniques to differentiate them.

      Rather than resume these, I invite you to consult this website giving you more information on the subject here.

      What about the jewelry sector ?

      Natural diamond, real synthetic diamond or fake diamond ?

      How to navigate when you want to buy a jewel set with diamonds ?

      It's easy to differentiate real diamonds from their imitations ...

      If in the past synthetic diamonds were too small and of poor quality to be used in jewelry, the techniques have evolved and from now on synthetic diamonds can be bought online.

      Their interest you can imagine, is the very advantageous price of these stones produced with industrial means, which can be half the price of their natural equivalent.

      You can try to appreciate the authenticity of a diamond yourself, but it will be better to turn to a professional for certainty.

      Especially if you conclude that your diamond is a real one, you won't be able to know if it's an artificial diamond or natural.

      The gemologists themselves need advanced equipment to test the stones for artificial or natural nature, as the stones are similar.

      How to differentiate a synthetic diamond from a natural diamond ?

      The world leader in diamond DeBeers has taken the bull by the horns and has developed three systems for detecting synthetic diamonds, so much the issue is important.

      However, not everything is rosy in the diamond kingdom, between those who try to sell synthetic diamonds for natural diamonds and the test machines that classify natural diamonds as synthetic, there are quacks whose financial stakes are enormous for diamond dealers and whose image may be tarnished. This article will tell you more about it.

      Diamonds test machine

      Diamond's melee on the left tested by AMS (Automated Mele Screening) from DeBeers

      From a legal point of view, the French legislation stipulates in article 4 of Decree n ° 2002-65 of January 14th, 2002 relative to the trade of gemstones and pearls, that the sale of synthetic diamonds must be made by specifying their synthetic nature.

      It's therefore illegal to sell synthetic diamonds for natural diamonds, but it's legal to sell them as diamonds (because it is).

      Only the issuance of a certificate of conformity will allow you to ensure the nature, characteristics and value of your diamond.

      For high-priced diamonds, it's essential to require such a certificate or to have one. Generally, warranty certificates are for diamonds of 0.5 carats or over. You can find out more about certification institutes by following this link.

      The price of such a certificate varies from a few tens to hundreds of dollars, we abstain from establishing for small diamonds generally used in paving whose value does not exceed a few tens of dollars.

      I invite you to watch this video report on the subject :

      Where to buy synthetic diamonds ?

      If the manufacture of synthetic diamonds is recent, diamond jewelry quality is a barely nascent industry. Only a few companies offer online services. You'll find them in the USA to buy synthetic diamonds :

      By visiting these websites, you'll find that although unnatural, these diamonds are still quite expensive. They're still a good solution to acquire a diamond at a good price and then put it on a jewel.

       

      Free Bonus : Download our complete guide on Diamond (fr).

      You'll discover all you need to know to buy diamonds jewelry online or in store.

       

      For further :

      August 12, 2019 — Hugo Maherault

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