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How Diamonds Are Made?

by Elise Jewelry 27 Mar 2024

For many, diamonds are not just beautiful gems but also symbols of love and commitment, often passed down through generations as family treasures. While most people know what a diamond is, fewer people know how diamonds are made.

Renowned for their extraordinary strength, diamonds undergo a fascinating journey during their creation. In the ensuing discussion, we will explore the intriguing process of diamond formation, distinguishing between naturally mined and laboratory-grown diamonds.

What Are Diamonds?

According to the Federal Trade Commission's official definition, diamonds are described as "a mineral composed of pure carbon crystallized in an isometric system." Both naturally occurring (mined) diamonds and laboratory-grown diamonds are recognized as diamonds with the same physical structure.

What Are Diamonds Made Out Of?

Diamonds fundamentally consist of carbon. Under conditions of sufficient pressure and temperature, carbon atoms bond together, initiating the formation of diamonds.

Are Diamonds Made From Coal?

Despite common belief, diamonds do not originate from coal. This misconception arose due to the shared composition of carbon in both substances. However, it's essential to note that coal and diamonds do not play a role in each other's formation processes.

How Are Diamonds Formed Step by Step

Both mined diamonds and lab-grown diamonds undergo a shared process of formation. Diamonds are created as follows:

  1. Carbon atoms bond under high pressure and temperatures.
  2. They develop a crystalline lattice structure, forming a rough diamond.
  3. Mined diamonds are then transported close to the surface by Kimberlite volcanoes, where they are extracted. This Kimberlite process can occur rapidly, with speeds ranging from 10 km/hour to potentially over 100 km/hour.
  4. Diamond formation is believed to have occurred in three phases, spanning from 3.5 billion to 85 million years ago. However, the youngest Kimberlite is dated to be only tens of millions of years old, significantly younger than the diamonds.
  5. Subsequently, diamonds undergo cutting, polishing, and sorting based on diamond grading.
  6. Each diamond possesses unique characteristics, including color and clarity, naturally occurring during the formation process, rendering every diamond distinct.

How Long Does It Take a Diamond to Form?

Although the process of diamond formation may appear straightforward, it actually involves a complex journey spanning potentially millions of years to bring them to the Earth's surface.

The precise duration for diamonds to form underground remains elusive due to the intermittent nature of the formation process. While some diamonds may develop relatively quickly, within days, others could require significantly more time, potentially spanning tens of millions of years or even longer.

How Are Lab-Grown Diamonds Made: Step by Step

Lab-grown diamonds utilize the identical process as mined diamonds, yet they require considerably less time to cultivate and are manufactured within laboratory settings.

Two methods are employed to produce lab-grown diamonds: high temperature or chemical vapor deposition.

The High Pressure, High Temperature(HPHT) Method:

The HPHT method utilizes high temperatures to produce lab-grown diamonds through a thermodynamic process.

In the HPHT process:

  1. A diamond seed, often a small slice of diamond, is placed within pure carbon in a controlled cubic environment.
  2. The setup is then subjected to extreme heat and pressure to simulate the conditions under which diamonds form naturally beneath the Earth's surface.
  3. This leads to the attachment of carbon atoms to the diamond seed from fourteen different directions.
  4. After about one month, a rough diamond in a cuboctahedron shape is formed.

The Chemical Vapor Deposition(CVD) Method:

Chemical vapor deposition (CVD) presents another method for producing lab-grown diamonds. In CVD, carbon-rich gases are converted into plasma within vacuum chambers.

In the process of creating lab-grown diamonds through CVD:

  1. A small diamond fragment is selected and meticulously cleaned to minimize visible flaws and imperfections.
  2. The cleaned slice is introduced into a vacuum-sealed chamber.
  3. Carbon-rich gas is introduced into the chamber at elevated temperatures.
  4. The carbon gas undergoes decomposition. Through kinetic processes, carbon atoms accumulate vertically atop the diamond seed inside the chamber.
  5. This deposition occurs consistently over several weeks, gradually enlarging the diamond. Upon completion, the rough diamond typically exhibits a square shape.

Both CVD and HPHT processes require approximately one month to produce a lab-grown diamond. Subsequently, the diamonds undergo cutting, polishing, and grading based on their quality and color.

📚 Also Read: What Is The Ideal Depth Of A Diamond?

The Difference Between Lab-Grown and Mined Diamonds

The primary contrast between mined and lab-grown diamonds pertains to their source. Lab-grown diamonds are cultivated within controlled and verifiable settings, offering a fully traceable point of origin, whereas mined diamonds lack this level of traceability.

Why Is Diamond Mining Not Sustainable?

The diamond mining industry is largely unsustainable, marked by inadequate regulation and substantial environmental damage, including soil erosion and deforestation.

In addition to sustainability issues, the diamond trade has long been associated with unethical practices such as child labor and violations of workers' rights. Conflict diamonds, also known as blood diamonds, are illegally mined gems used to finance terrorist or militia activities.

Verifying the origin of mined diamonds presents significant challenges, making it exceedingly difficult to procure truly conflict-free and sustainably produced gems.

Mined Diamonds vs. Lab-Grown Diamonds Price

"Natural" diamonds, referring to mined diamonds, generally carry a higher price tag compared to lab-grown diamonds. This price disparity is primarily attributed to a select few entities within the diamond industry dictating the availability of diamonds in the market.

Mined diamond extraction demands more labor and resources than lab-grown diamond production. Additionally, mined diamonds enjoy greater familiarity in the market. Consequently, retailers have leeway to inflate diamond prices.

On the other hand, lab-grown diamonds typically come with a significantly lower price point. This is largely due to their renewable nature and the reduced labor and resource requirements involved in their production process.


Diamonds, revered for their symbolism and beauty, undergo a remarkable journey from formation to market. While mined and lab-grown diamonds share similar traits, their origins and production methods diverge. The diamond industry grapples with sustainability and ethical concerns, prompting a shift towards responsibly sourced gems. As consumers become more conscious, the demand for transparency grows. Ultimately, diamonds, whether natural or lab-grown, remain cherished symbols of love and tradition, captivating hearts worldwide.

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