Synthesized Diamonds: From Functionality To Luxury
Synthetic diamonds have seen use in a range of functional applications, from drilling tools to teleporting digital information. Rarely have they seen use in luxuries such as jewelry, but with the BBC reporting that jewelry giants Pandora are soon to start selling only lab-made diamonds, something has clearly changed. Understanding how the shift has occurred is made relatively straightforward by looking at the incredible jumps forward diamond synthesis science has made in the past few years.
Properties of synthetic diamonds
Synthetic (or lab-grown) diamonds historically had issues with impurities that impacted their ability to be made into jewelry. The prize factor of jewel-grade diamonds is their clarity and ability to refract light into a prism - synthetic diamonds are bereft of this quality. Today, diamonds can be produced in several colors, including transparent, which make them a great purchase for jewelers. A driver behind this is crystal vapor deposition (CVD), which Chemical & Engineering News has highlighted may be a key bit of innovation in producing high-quality lab-grown rocks.
CVD and further steps
CVD is undergoing rapid research and innovation, and this is producing better quality diamonds. Barriers to the progress of CVD research have included scaling up - it's simple enough to make a single diamond layer, but speeding up the process can be difficult. Up-scaling has now occurred, and crucially, in the industrial sector. A study published by the Journal of Materials (Basel) outlines how a rapid and efficient single-mineral deposition process that can produce thin, needle-like diamonds for industry is now possible. This frees up time and energy for focusing on the larger sized and more expensive jewel diamond synthesis process.
The industry will receive a further bump through the use of 'diamonds from thin air'. An overview by the Financial Post highlights what this exactly means. Plucking free elements from the air and using them to synthesize a diamond is the name of the game, and it's a low-energy, high-output process that actively reduces carbon levels in the atmosphere. With the highest quality diamonds available to be made via this process, this offers yet further gains for the lab-grown diamond scene.
In short, the technical innovation and research being put into the field of diamond synthesis is bringing results. Top quality diamonds can now be obtained through the process, meaning those with a taste for jewelry can have a good product regardless of its provenance.