Can you see and do you know the difference between man made diamonds vs real diamonds? If you’re a geologist or a serious jewelry enthusiast, then the answer is probably “yes”. But for most people, they seem nearly identical. This is because the formation of man made diamonds closely resembles the formation of real diamonds. Both processes involve heat, pressure, and carbon.
The Formation Of Real Diamonds
A lot of confusion surrounds the formation of actual diamonds. Many people believe that diamonds are formed from coal, but this is very rarely the case. In fact, most diamonds pre-date the existence of Earth’s first land plants, which are what eventually form coal. Since the diamonds are older than the source of the coal, they must be coming from a different source.
It is clear that the formation of diamonds requires very high temperatures and extreme amounts of pressure. Such high levels of temperature and pressure exist naturally closer to the center of the Earth. Many geologist believe that diamonds are formed deep down near the Earth’s mantle and then forced towards the surface by deep-source eruptions from volcanoes.
If you were to travel about 90 miles beneath the surface of the Earth you could experience temperatures near 2000 degrees Fahrenheit and extreme levels of pressure. However, this pressure and temperature does not exist uniformly around the Earth, but only in areas beneath stable interiors of the continental plates.
Over time, deep-source eruptions from volcanoes tear away pieces of the mantle and carry them towards the surface. Such eruptions are extremely rare, but are believed to have occurred more frequently in the past. The pieces of mantle they carried to the surface contained diamonds. The actual carbon used to create the diamonds in the mantle was likely trapped carbon that has existed since the formation of the Earth and not coal, as many people would believe.
The Formation Of Man Made Diamonds
The formation of artificial diamonds occurs in a lab, but the ingredients and process are designed to duplicate what happens in real life. The formula for a diamond is simple, “carbon + heat + pressure = diamond”. This method is referred to as the High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) formation of diamonds.
The pressure needed to create the diamonds can come from one of three different sources. There is the split-sphere press, the cubic press, or the belt press. The cubic press, for example, uses six separate anvils to apply simultaneous pressure to the different sides of a cube shaped volume containing heated carbon.
In recent times, an alternative method of creating man made diamonds has been used as well. HPHT is a more cost effective method, but chemical vapor deposition(CPD) has become extremely popular for its simplicity and flexibility. Using this method, diamonds are simply grown using a hydrocarbon gas mixture.
Altogether, man made diamonds vs real diamonds are extremely similar. They have nearly the same hardness and appearance. Special tools are often required to tell the difference between the two if the man made diamond comes from a high quality manufacturer.