Lab-grown diamonds cost about 30 to 40 percent less than mined diamonds of similar quality and the scientists behind lab-grown diamonds say it's a real gem. Angela Moore reports.
This shiny, sparkly diamond was made inside a laboratory - but it has the same chemical makeup as its counterpart found deep inside the earth. SOUNDBITE (English) KELLY GOOD, DIRECTOR OF MARKETING PURE GROWN DIAMONDS, SAYING: "All the composition is exactly the same. It is a real diamond. What we've done is we've just taken what's happened in nature and just put it in a lab." Essentially, all diamonds are carbon. And inside a laboratory, scientists are using a method called microwave plasma chemical vapour deposition to grow the stones from a diamond seed. They do it by creating a plasma ball made of hydrogen inside a growth chamber. Methane, which is a carbon source, is added. The carbon mix rains down on the diamond seeds, layer by layer, creating a large, rough diamond that is cut and polished. The process takes about 10 to 12 weeks. Marketers tout the lab-grown diamonds as an eco-friendly, conflict-free alternative to mined diamonds. SOUNDBITE (English) KELLY GOOD, DIRECTOR OF MARKETING PURE GROWN DIAMONDS, SAYING: "Our consumer is millennials, anybody who is getting engaged are really buying the lab-grown diamonds. They also like the fact of the environmental aspect of it. That it's grown in a greenhouse. There is less soil being moved. We have a less carbon footprint." While similar in appearance, there are differences. SOUNDBITE (English) DAVID WEINSTEIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF INTERNATIONAL GEMOLOGICAL INSTITUTE, NEW YORK, SAYING: "I have a crystal, a diamond and I'm looking at it and I see a peridot crystal, a green peridot crystal, I know right away, this wasn't created in a machine. So the inclusions can really be very telling as to what the origins of the material is. And that's what our gemologists look for." While lab-grown gems have been around for decades, but it's only recently that the science and technology have made it possible to grow large, gem quality stones. And according to a report by Morgan Stanley, the lab-grown diamond market could grow by about 15 percent by the year 2020.