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CVD Diamonds: Everything You Need to Know

by Haley Anhut
Last updated on September 16, 2023

When you hear the word “CVD diamond,” you probably have no idea what it is. A lot of people aren’t familiar with CVD diamonds. In basic terms, a CVD diamond is a type of lab grown diamond.

For anyone interested in diamonds, their environmental and social impact, and their cost, CVD diamonds are worth looking into. 

Here, you’ll learn all about what makes these stones unique and how to find the right CVD diamond option to fit your needs.

What Are CVD Diamonds?

Lab created diamonds.

Simply put, some diamonds are mined, and some are lab grown diamonds. CVD diamonds are man-made. Unlike natural diamonds, which take billions of years to form deep beneath the Earth’s surface, CVD diamonds are grown in labs.

CVD stands for chemical vapor deposition, the process used to create lab grown diamonds.

Are CVD Diamonds Real Diamonds?

Clean Origin Lab Grown Diamond Rings

CVD diamonds are sometimes referred to as synthetic diamonds. Unlike natural diamonds, they do not form within the Earth.

CVD diamonds have the same physical properties and are chemically identical to natural diamonds. CVD diamonds look precisely like natural diamonds.

Even a trained jeweler cannot identify a CVD diamond from a natural diamond. In 2018, the FTC ruled that, for all intents and purposes, synthetic diamonds and natural diamonds are the same things: 100% a diamond!

Synthetic Diamonds vs. Mined Diamonds

Lab created versus natural diamonds.

A lab grown diamond is sometimes called a synthetic diamond. This indicates it was produced in a lab. Natural diamonds are mined from the Earth’s surface.

Both lab grown diamonds and natural diamonds are real diamonds.

Diamond Simulants

Sometimes people confuse a diamond simulant with a synthetic diamond. Moissanite, white sapphire, and cubic zirconia imitate diamonds, all have different chemical compositions. They are not real diamonds, whereas a CVD diamond is a real diamond.

Are CVD Diamonds the same as Cubic Zirconias?

No, CVD diamonds are not the same as cubic zirconia. Atomically, CVD diamonds are identical to mined diamonds and have a pure crystalline carbon composition.

On the other hand, Cubic zirconias are imitation stones designed to resemble diamonds superficially. Instead of carbon, cubic zirconia is made from synthetic zirconium dioxide. Cubic zirconias may look like diamonds to the untrained eye but don’t have nearly the sparkle of a diamond. CVD diamonds are diamonds.

Making CVD Diamonds

Growing CVD diamonds relies on a unique and innovative process. In chemical vapor deposition, a thin ‘seed’ diamond is placed inside a sealed chamber and subjected to high temperatures (around 800°C).

Then, a carbon-rich gas mixture (usually of hydrogen and methane) is introduced to the chamber. The gases are ionized to break down their molecular bonds, allowing the pure carbon to attach itself to the diamond seed.

As the carbon builds up, it forms atomic bonds with the diamond seed, resulting in the growth of a new, larger diamond — entirely identical to the diamonds found in nature.

How Fast Do CVD Diamonds Grow?

The CVD process allows carbon atoms to attach to the seed diamond layer by layer. This produces a beautiful, genuine diamond. It is slow because it relies on extremely high temperatures and high-pressure conditions.

The process generally moves at a rate of 0.1-10 microns per hour for larger surfaces (smaller surfaces grow at slower speeds). Estimates vary, but it typically takes a month to produce a one-carat CVD diamond. 

Are All Lab-Grown Diamonds CVD Diamonds?

Although lab grown diamonds have been around for a while, CVD is a relatively new process.

Before introducing this process, labs relied on High-Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) approach. CVD offers a much more efficient method of growing diamonds, given the extremely high-pressure, high-temperature conditions needed in the HPHT process — about 1500°C and approximately 1.5 million pounds of pressure per square inch. HPHT diamonds will now test as moissanite with modern diamond testers. 

What Is the History of CVD Diamonds?

General Electric created the first lab-grown diamond back in 1955. DeBeers bought the technology, and it disappeared for many years. GE/DeBeers used the HPHT approach to grow the diamond. It set the stage for later technological advances that would eventually lead to the creation of CVD diamonds. By the 1980s, CVD diamonds had become a reality.

Are CVD Diamonds Flawless?

You might expect a lab-grown CVD diamond to turn out perfect naturally. But while the average CVD diamond will likely be of higher quality than the average mined diamond. CVDs still exhibit a range of quality. This is because lab conditions are essentially the same processes that produce diamonds in nature. And like natural diamonds, there’s a certain amount of randomness that tends to crop up.

After the growing process, a CVD diamond goes through the same certification process used in grading a natural diamond.

Qualified diamond certification labs measure and grade a diamond’s color, cut, clarity, and carat (the 4 C’s). Each diamond has an overall grade. 

Are CVD Diamonds Expensive?

When it comes to cost, everything is relative. CVD diamonds generally cost less than mined diamonds — about 20–30% less.

So, for what you’d pay for a 1.5-carat mined diamond, you could instead upgrade to a 2-carat CVD diamond.

This is primarily due to three factors:

1) the vast expense of digging deep holes in the Earth

2) the extensive supply chain associated with mined diamonds

3) the history of monopolistic manipulation of pricing

Natural diamonds go through a strenuous process: Must be located and extracted from the ground or seabed floor; Then shipped and sold to cutters, wholesalers, and jewelry fabricators; Later distributed through independent retailers and big diamond chains with huge rents and advertising budgets.

The Diamond Producers Association will spend more than $180m in 2020, convincing consumers to buy mined rather than lab grown diamonds. With all these steps along the way to you, the costs increase a lot. CVD diamonds skip most of that, allowing for a much more affordable price tag.

Despite this, CVD diamonds are still valuable. These are diamonds, after all, in every sense of the word.

If you want a clearer idea of how much you can expect to spend on CVD and other lab-grown diamonds, check out how Clean Origin compares to other brands below. 

What Are Some Other Benefits of CVD Diamonds?

The cost of creating a CVD diamond is much less than the cost of mining and transporting a natural diamond — and that’s to say nothing of the additional human and environmental costs associated with diamond mining

The cost of mining diamonds from the ground goes well beyond dollars. The ecological and ethical issues associated with diamond mining create a lasting negative impact worldwide. Illegally traded mined diamonds used to fund conflict in war-torn areas are “conflict diamonds” (or even “blood diamonds”). Some diamond mines operate under terrible conditions, leading to worker injuries or even human-rights violations. 

Additionally, there are environmental issues to consider. For every carat of natural diamond extracted from the ground, nearly 100 square feet of land are disturbed. Almost 6000 lbs of mineral waste are created. 

CVD Diamonds don’t come from mines and are not used to fund conflict. And they create almost no mineral waste. As such, they offer some reasonably significant benefits over natural diamonds (even if they are benefits you can’t see under a microscope).

Are CVD Diamonds Right For Me?

Should you choose a CVD diamond? That’s a question that only you can answer. But we can tell you that given the environmental and ethical benefits of selecting a CVD diamond. Not to mention the potential savings, more and more diamond enthusiasts are deciding to go with lab-grown options. And if you’d like a bit more guidance, we’re always ready to answer your questions