Synthetic Colored Diamonds
A synthetic colored diamond is one that is made in a laboratory using advanced technology to imitate naturally formed diamonds. Because of the demand for colored diamonds and the fact only one in every one thousand naturally produced diamonds are colored, created the necessity for lab created colored diamonds. In fact, ninety-nine percent of the colored diamonds that are available in the market today are synthetic or laboratory created diamonds.
There are various methods to create synthetic colored diamonds. The two most popular are called HPHT or High-Pressure, High-Temperature Synthesis and CVD or Chemical Vapor Deposition. There are other, albeit less popular methods such as detonation synthesis and ultrasonic radiation. Detonation synthesis involves the detonation of explosives that contain carbon in order to make diamond-like grains. Others also use ultrasonic radiation to treat graphite to produce synthetic diamonds.
The High-Pressure, High-Temperature Synthesis method is responsible for creating most of the yellow or canary diamonds in the market. They add nitrogen impurities to the diamond formation process in order to create the yellow tint. In order to make pink diamonds, they add boron to the process. The Chemical Vapor Deposition or CVD process uses low pressure to grow the diamonds, feeding methane and hydrogen into a chamber and ignite the gases in order to make coatings as well as crystals.
Some synthetic colored diamonds are more superior in terms of hardness, electron mobility and thermal conductivity as compared to natural diamonds, especially if they are made through the High-Pressure, High-Temperature or Chemical Vapor Deposition processes. They might even look more attractive than natural colored diamonds to the untrained eye, because natural diamonds have some small imperfections and flaws.
It is for this reason that it is important to have an expert take a look at the diamond you are planning to purchase before you make out that check. Gemologists make use of orange florescent lights to identify diamonds made through Chemical Vapor Deposition processes. Colored diamonds in the D-J range are identified using “Diamond Spotter”, a tool used by the Swiss Gemological Institute to spot synthetic colored diamonds. Colored diamonds in the D-Z range are identified as real or synthetic using De Beer’s “DiamondSure UV/Visible Spectrometer”.
Apart from these laboratory processes, synthetic diamonds can also be imitated through diamond simulants. The most popular simulant today is cubic zirconia. Gemstone moissanites are treated with cubic zirconia in order to look like diamonds. Also popular is the use of diamond enhancements to treat already polished and cut synthetic diamonds in order to give them color. However, they are also used on colorless diamonds to fill in cracks and to improve the appearance of a synthetic colorless diamond to make it appear more natural.
Apart from their aesthetic qualities, synthetic diamonds are also used for more practical needs. For example, some polishing tools and cutting machines use synthetic diamonds. In fact even power plants are looking into using synthetic diamonds for their high-power switches. High-frequency field-effect transistors and light-emitting diodes also make use of synthetic diamonds.