This article is a thorough analysis of the facts related to synthetic vs natural diamonds debate. I have tried to solve the dilemma faced by many, about whether or not to buy synthetic diamonds. Let me put the truth about differences between natural and synthetic diamonds, in front of you, through this Buzzle article. This comparison could more accurately be called - man-made diamonds vs mined diamonds, which underlines the basic difference between the two types, based on their genesis.
Diamonds are beautiful pieces of stone, which have become symbols of rarity and commitment in our world. Every girl awaits that moment, when she is popped with 'The Question', with a diamond embedded in a ring. Rare stones like diamonds cost a lot. The price tag on rarity is high! The diamond industry is a multibillion dollar industry, which trades in natural diamonds or real diamonds, as they are called. Until now, synthetic diamonds were mostly restricted to industrial applications, but since a long time, they have now been made available in the jewelry market. Though yet to find the kind of widespread acceptance which natural diamonds enjoy, they are slowly making inroads into the market.
Synthetic Vs. Natural Diamonds Comparison
The alternative to a natural diamond is a chemically identical synthetic diamond, which has been around for quite a while, but only recently introduced as a competitor to natural diamonds in the jewelry market. I present a comparison between the two, according to different criteria of the diamond grading system.
If you compare the two types of diamonds, with respect to how each of them is created, then you are bound to find a vast difference. Natural diamonds and synthetic diamonds are chemically similar but their genesis is different.
Natural diamonds are forged deep in the belly of earth over millions of years, under high temperature and pressure conditions. From there, they are pushed towards the surface through volcanic vents. Finally, through the mining process, they are collected, then cut, polished and finally sold.
Synthetic diamonds on the other hand, are created here on the surface of the Earth by 'High Temperature-High Pressure (HTHP)' and 'Chemical vapor deposition (CVD)' methods. These techniques have been perfected over decades to create crystals which are chemically identical to natural diamonds and in some cases even more perfect than natural diamonds.
Diamonds are basically a crystalline form of carbon. High pressure and temperature in the Earth's crust force a lump of carbon to crystallize under pressure, leading to the creation of a natural diamond. Synthesizers of artificial diamonds recreate these conditions on the Earth's surface to create the synthetic variety of diamonds. Lab created diamonds, as they are also called, shouldn't be confused with the so-called diamond substitutes like Cubic Zirconia (ZrO2), Moissanite (SiC), YAG (Y3Al5O12) and White Sapphire (Al2O3) gems. These are carbon based diamonds, chemically identical to natural ones, albeit smaller in size and devoid of the impurities that add exotic value to natural diamonds.
Flaws and Blemishes
Synthetic diamonds have lesser flaws than natural diamonds, as their crystals are grown under controlled conditions. The flaws and inclusions in natural diamonds add to their beauty. The unique colors that natural diamonds have, cannot be exactly reproduced by synthetic diamonds. Synthetic diamonds have unique carbon inclusions, which mark them distinctly different from natural diamonds. Still, there is plenty of color variety to choose from blue, pink, white, yellow and orange.
If you make the comparison, with respect to quality, then you won't find any difference, as chemically they are similar. The fire, brilliance and unique optical qualities of natural diamonds are exactly matched by synthetic diamonds. The only difference is in colors and flaws shown by natural diamonds that cannot be mimicked in synthetic ones. In spite of this, even experienced jewelers find it difficult sometimes to distinguish between synthetic and natural diamonds. There is advanced equipment available, which can easily distinguish between the two types by checking the inclusions and internal composition of the diamonds. Synthetic diamonds have distinct metal inclusions, which natural diamonds are devoid of.
If you compare the artificial and natural species of diamonds with respect to their weight, then you will find that synthetic ones are heavier than natural ones due to their higher densities. In case of synthetic diamonds, there is a limitation on the growth of these crystals, due to which they very rarely weigh over 1 carat. So if you are looking for a large diamond, synthetic diamonds are not a choice for you.
Here is where man-made diamonds win unequivocally. Cost of synthetic and natural diamonds is highly unequal. The synthetic ones are available at a price, which is 30% lesser than their natural counterparts. So synthetic diamonds offer the same quality at a substantially lesser price. Plus you have the moral satisfaction of purchasing 'conflict free' diamonds. While in case of natural diamonds, you cannot be that sure!
The best way to decide of course, is to see both types for yourself. More than the price or type of diamonds and diamond rings, it's the feeling behind offering the ring, which is more important.