Diamonds can be made by putting pure carbon under enough heat and pressure (about 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit and 50,000 atmospheres) and it will crystallize into the hardest material known. Those were the conditions that first forged diamonds deep in Earth’s mantle 3.3 billion years ago. Replicating that environment in a lab isn’t easy, but it’s been accomplished.
There are diamonds that are grown in a warehouse in Florida by a roomful of Russian-designed machines spitting out 3-carat roughs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A second company, in Boston, has perfected a completely different process for making near-flawless diamonds and plans to begin marketing them by year’s end. This sudden arrival of mass-produced gems threatens to alter the public’s perception of diamonds – and to transform the $7 billion industry. More intriguing, it opens the door to the development of diamond-based semiconductors.
Yes. There are two primary methods of synthesizing diamonds, High Pressure High Temperature synthesis, and Chemical Vapor Deposition. HPHT diamonds are made by pressing a capsule of carbon in an extremely high pressure press (this is the relatively cheap method), and CVD diamonds are produced by growing a diamond crystal from a hydocarbon vapor (this method is more expensive but has the advantage of growing diamonds over large areas).
88% of all industrial diamonds in the world are synthetic (China leads in production, with more than 4 billion carats a year), and 98% of US industrial diamond use is synthetic (and China is the US’s primary import source). Stone cutting tools use the most industrial diamond in the US.
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