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Natural vs. Synthetic Diamonds


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#1 marea

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Posted 17 October 2005 - 09:45 PM

I've looked thruoght the web, and I haven't found the answer to this question.
What are the key elements, if they are any, for identifying a natural against a man made diamond.
I would also like to know if the ASHA stones are really that symilar to natural stones and what are the key elements for identification.
Thank you.

#2 10X

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Posted 18 October 2005 - 05:29 AM

There are many different diamond simulants but you may want to check out this thread:

http://www.diamond.i...?showtopic=1443

Synthetic diamonds are very difficult to distinguish from real diamonds and extensive testing would have to be done on the diamond from a reputable lab.


Just to clarify the difference between a simulant and synthetic:

Simulant: natural or man-made gem or mineral that looks like a diamond (or other gem) but has a different atomic structure and physical properties. These are diamond imitators. Examples would be CZ, Synthetic Rutile, Moissanite, YAG, GGG, Glass, etc.

Synthetic : man-made diamond with the exact same properties as a natural diamond. It has the same chemical composition, hardness, SG and RI.
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#3 denverappraiser

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Posted 18 October 2005 - 05:45 AM

It's worth noting that there are currently no colorless or near colorless synthetics on the market anywhere in the world. They can be made, but they cost more than similar looking natural stones.

Asha is a brand of cubic zirconia (a simulant) and they are quite lovely although not especially difficult to separate from diamonds. Some of the procedures for identifying them is explained nicely in the tread that Megan supplied.

To answer your question, the key elements are the distinctive inclusions and the distinctive infrared spectra. There are certain inclusions that only occur in natural stones and there are other inclusions that only occur in synthetic stones.

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#4 10X

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Posted 18 October 2005 - 06:18 AM

I recently read an article that colorless diamonds made by Apollo may be entering the market as early as next year. Apollo expects to grow diamonds as big as 2cts.

Beyond entering the diamond market Apollos diamonds are also being manufactured for technology.

You can read more about these man-made diamonds here:

http://www.usatoday....POE=click-refer

It is actually a fascinating article.


Neil makes a good point regarding inclusions.
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#5 denverappraiser

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Posted 18 October 2005 - 09:19 AM

Planning on making colorless diamonds as big as 2 carats is not the same as doing it. This may be coming but the news people are far to anxious to be the first to report a problem that does not currently exist. Apollo does not commercially make a colorless product and they have not announced the upcoming release of one. Neither does Gemesis, the other company listed in the USA Today advertisement (excuse me, article).

The development of the synthetic diamond industry is indeed interesting and it will undoubtably have a substantial affect on the jewelry and gemstone business but it hasn't happened yet other than making a whole lot of people worried. This is an example of bad reporting on the part of USA Today and Wired magazine. It has spawned a whole industry of people selling simulants as something they are not and has given rise to a huge amount of misunderstanding about what is, and what is not available in the market. This is about selling newspapers, not about selling diamonds.

Here's what the manufacturers have to say about their products.

www.apollodiamond.com
www.gemesis.com

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#6 10X

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Posted 18 October 2005 - 09:39 AM

While they may not be on the market now, according to Apollo's site their intention is pretty clear. They intented to take part in the gem world.

http://www.apollodia.../gemstones.html

As a matter of fact, it looks like they are going to bypass cutting and grow fully faceted stones and matched pairs. ;)

I do see your point however, on their site, speaking in the present tense they are creating colorless diamonds up to 1ct already. Going larger doesn't seem like such a big stretch.

If and when they do get introducted into the market hopefully full disclosure maintained.

The technologies involving man-made diamonds is also very fascinating to me.
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#7 denverappraiser

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Posted 18 October 2005 - 10:05 AM

Both companies are definitely in the gem business, just not with a colorless product. It's not for lack of trying. I've little doubt that they would love to be selling a 1 ct. D-IF stone if they could just get past the detail of how to make one. A 0.05mm thick wafer, although interesting in it's own right, just isn't the same thing. It may not even be on the right track although I agree that it looks promising and it may produce valuable things for other industries, especially semiconductors, even if it doesn't work out for gems. As far as I can tell, neither company is currently selling CVD manufactured diamonds of any kind.

Remember this article from 2003 in Wired magazine that heralded the demise of the diamond business because of CVD? Nothing much has changed on this front in the 2 years since this was published.

Here's an interesting tidbit from GIA

"The 1970 announcement by General Electric Co. (GE) of the creation of one-carat gem-quality synthetic diamonds was hailed as another major scientific breakthrough, but it was met with some alarm by members of the jewelry industry. Despite claims to the contrary by GE management, jewelers were concerned about the possible manufacture of inexpensive gem-quality synthetic diamonds that might be difficult or impossible to distinguish from natural gem diamonds. Shortly after the GE announcement, GIA’s widely recognized gem expert G. Robert Crowningshield examined a selection of these new synthetic diamonds and subsequently described some practical gemological means by which jewelers could identify them (Crowningshield, 1970 and 1971)."

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#8 ben

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 08:54 AM

Neil, thanks for the interesting posts as usual ;)

I believe that even if these companies succeeded in creating a 1 ct. D-IF stone, the effect on the natural diamond market would be minimal. The fact is, demand for natural diamonds is an artificial market phenomena created by the marketing geniuses at DeBeers. I am certain they will find a way to differentiate, in the consumer's mind, the natural product from the synthetics.

As for bench jewelers being able to tell between a synthetic and a natural, I have equal faith in the scientific and engineering community (funded and supported by DeBeers) to create a practical and low-cost device to detect between the two.
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#9 10X

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 09:23 AM

Here are two more interesting articles from the GIA:

http://www.gia.edu/g...ews_details.cfm

....... "Carter Clarke, co-chairman of Gemesis Corp., and Bryant Linares, president and CEO of Apollo Diamond, Inc., both promised “full disclosure down the line” for all their products, including laser inscriptions identifying them as lab-created diamonds.

Both also stressed that their products are designed to fill a consumer desire for high-quality diamonds at affordable prices.

Clarke, whose synthetics are grown by the traditional HPHT process, said Gemesis will offer diamonds equivalent to Fancy Intense and Fancy Vivid yellow at a much lower cost than comparably colored natural diamonds, and will channel distribution through reputable retailers and jewelry manufacturers.

Linares, who helped adapt chemical vapor deposition (CVD) technology to create gem-quality synthetic diamonds, explained that the “highly transparent, highly pure” CVD-created diamonds will be a new source of high-quality diamond that will give consumers new price options.

He told the audience that CVD-created gem diamonds are identical to mined diamonds in all ways that matter to consumers. They have a different spectroscopic signature, but are “predominately type IIa, with high purity because they have few inclusions. In short, with respect to the 4Cs, they are identical to natural diamonds.”

Both Linares and Clarke stressed that their products will fill a consumer niche for quality diamonds at affordable prices. Clarke said his products will be priced similar to G-VS diamonds of comparable weight. Linares has not yet determined prices for Apollo diamonds. Burman, however, believes the prices that consumers will pay for synthetic goods cut off far below their expectations: “We’ve found little consumer interest above $500.”


http://www.gia.edu/g...ews_details.cfm

........ "The lead article in this issue of Gems & Gemology describes the creation of single-crystal synthetic diamonds grown by Apollo Diamond Inc. using a CVD process. At first glance, this doesn’t seem so alarming. After all, gem-quality synthetic diamonds grown by the classic “belt” and BARS (high pressure/high temperature) techniques have been around for decades, and have been available commercially (although in very small quantities and sizes and, for the most part, in yellow colors) since the mid-1980’s. Put simply, however, CVD-grown synthetic diamond generally is a purer product than commercial synthetic diamonds created by high pressure/high temperature techniques, and the CVD synthetics typically fall on the

D-to-Z scale or are “brownies.” In addition, in most cases sophisticated analytical equipment must be used to conclusively identify the material. After Apollo Diamond begins commercial production of CVD synthetic diamond in 2004, it will be vital for every practicing gemologist to understand the challenges that the material may pose to identification.

The producer has stated that, initially, 5,000–10,000 carats of faceted CVD synthetic diamond will be available. Most of these goods will be quarters and thirds, but by the end of 2004, stones as large as a full carat may be on the market. While larger sizes typically will be identified in a qualified laboratory, the fact that most diamonds under a carat are not sold with grading reports is cause for concern. The producers are unequivocal about their insistence on proper disclosure, and all indications to GIA certainly support that premise."
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#10 denverappraiser

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 09:41 AM

Megan,

Interesting articles. Thanks. Do you have any idea when they were first published? The guy from Gemesis is forcasting production of 10,000 carats of CVD diamonds on the market by the end of 2004. I wonder what the holdup is.

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#11 10X

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 10:08 AM

The one article is from 2003, the other is undated.

Perhaps, they are waiting for GIA's new cut grade certificates. LOL! ;)
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#12 beagle_77

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Posted 23 December 2005 - 03:44 PM

Hi all
I'm new to diamond's but I have been researching them for about a 1-1/2. I was waiting for a Apollo diamond but finally went with a Canadian (I hope) diamond because I wanted to get engaged in this lifetime.

I am a scientist in the optical industry and my work is focused on Vapor deposition to create optical filters. What they are doing at Apollo is very similar to what I do. What they do in Florida and at the other places that manufacture diamonds is not anything at all like these types of CVD processes. There is strong promise for Apollos technique but its much more likely that there products will be for circuit boards rather than jewlers.

Personally I would rather have a man-made diamond, there is nothing romantic about diamond mines or Cecil Rhodes for that matter. However I don't wear diamonds and most of the people I know who do think that a natural diamond is much more romantic than a lab diamond.

As for Apollo, I don't know when if ever they will make a huge impact in the gem industry. Their prime focus is on making p and n type transistors for circuit boards. The advantages to using diamond over silicon are quite significant and I think that they will have there hands full meeting the demand for that application for a very long time. I also think that they will be able to make money much easier with that type of application and will ease much slower into any sort of gem product line.

What are your opinions on flawless manufactured diamonds? Would you want to work with them if flawless manufactured diamonds were readily available? I would think that they would be easier to work with and with a simple marketing plan I think mined diamonds would quickly lose there luster to a significant percentage of the population. As for creating them so they don't need to be cut by a jeweler...that's not going to happen anytime soon. It would be possible to do (I think) but it would take a lot more time and money than it would be worth.

#13 J'taimeCartier

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Posted 25 March 2007 - 12:28 PM

The latest news I have found is that GIA started issuing grading reports on synthetics in January 2007.

GIA has claimed it will laser-engrave "laboratory grown" on the girdles (unless the diamond has already been so engraved by method approved by the Federal Trade Commission FTC). Apollo, Adia, Gemesis, LifeGem and Tairus are entering the jewelry business, mostly by providing rough stones.

Off subject, but an interesting idea is that LifeGem is already producing diamonds MADE FROM THE CARBONIZED REMAINS OF DECEASED PERSONS OR PETS! Although the process is expensive, could that spell the end of the funeral home/cemetary business...horrors!! I personally love the idea and will make plans to have my own 'remains' so disposed of in the future. Can you think of a more appropriate way for a jeweler to end up?? :P