Two faceted crystalline carbon samples - both as clear as crystal with an infinite variety of spectral colors emitted under direct light. To the naked eye, it makes no difference. However, the first is more than a billion years old and the second was recently grown in the laboratory.

Undoubtedly, both are real diamonds. The first is a natural diamond designed by the deep forces of the earth at the beginning of time. On the other hand, the second has been hardened in the laboratory with the same chemical, physical and optical properties as a natural diamond.

So it begs the question, where do diamonds come from?

Billions of years ago, thousands of natural diamonds were hidden deep in the earth's crust at extremely high temperatures and pressures, then brought to the surface by a volcanic eruption, waiting to be explored and discovered. The first industrial use of artificial diamonds took place in a laboratory in the 1950s. It wasn't until the first decade of the 21st century that colourless diamonds grown in laboratories reached the jewelry market in significant quantities.

How are diamonds "man-made"?

A diamond can be grown in two different ways, both of which involve the "seed" (a flat slither) of another diamond. High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) system - this involves placing the seed in the middle of a small amount of pure graphite carbon and exposing it to an extremely high temperature and pressurizing it in a chamber. Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) - This entails placing the seed in a sealed chamber filled with carbon-rich gas and heating it. Eventually, the gases begin to "stick" to the seed, causing a carbon diamond to grow atom by atom.

Lab-grown diamonds share almost the same physical and optical properties as natural diamonds. They are just as resistant, with an impressive range of colors and qualities. Like natural diamonds, man-made diamonds might be larger in size, fire, brilliance and luster than mined diamonds.

According to a report commissioned by ABN AMRO in 2011, laboratories require approximately 26 kWh of energy to produce one carat of diamonds, while 57 kWh is required to mine one carat of rough diamonds, making synthetic diamonds more eco-friendly than natural diamonds. And because it takes only a month to grow a synthetic diamond, synthetic diamonds are more affordable than natural diamonds.

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