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What is a CVD Diamond? A Guide to Ethical & Sustainable Alternatives

Have you heard the term “CVD diamond” before and are curious to know what exactly it means? This type of synthetic diamond only really arrived on the scene a decade ago when scientists discovered they could create a diamond with the same chemical composition as a naturally grown diamond with much less time and effort.

It’s no secret that diamonds are in high demand. After all, natural diamonds take thousands of years to grow beneath the earth’s surface and require the intense pressure and high temperatures found there to come to life. It’s not surprising then that creators have attempted to mimic this diamond growth process to create much less costly and much more ecologically friendly stones for engagement rings.

One of their innovations has led to the creation of CVD Diamonds. Anyone interested in diamonds from jewelers and sellers to buyers and wearers should know about CVD diamonds. This diamond option has quite a few perks, such as its affordability and remarkable quality, making it a compelling option for engagement rings and various types of diamond alternative jewelry.

Image explaining what a CVD diamond is

What Is a CVD Diamond?

A CVD diamond is a diamond created by a process called Chemical Vapor Deposition. This process begins with a diamond seed crystal, typically from a high quality synthetic diamond, in a vacuum chamber. Natural gas, such as methane, is then pumped into the chamber and broken down into carbon atoms that accumulate on the crystal and form a diamond. In addition to natural gas, the crystal is treated with high temperatures and pressures within the chamber to remove any coloration and make the diamond colorless.

Are CVD Diamonds Real Diamonds?

CVD diamonds are often called synthetic diamonds or CVD synthetics. Despite what the name would suggest though, a CVD diamond is chemically identical to a naturally mined diamond. It is made of carbon atoms and natural gas just like a natural diamond.

In addition to the chemical compositions, the optical and physical traits of lab diamonds such as CVD diamonds and natural diamonds are the same. CVD diamonds are as hard and durable as natural diamonds and display the same brilliance and fire when cut as a gemstone. The essential difference between lab-created diamonds and mined diamonds is that one is created in a lab and the other is naturally mined.

CVD diamonds are as durable as natural diamonds

How To Identify CVD Diamonds?

That’s just the thing—you can’t identify a CVD diamond just by looking at it. Even the most trained jewelers can’t differentiate between a natural diamond and a CVD diamond without proper tools because the composition is identical. A CVD diamond is a diamond, it is just created in a different way.

However, there are certain indicators that a diamond may be lab-grown, and specifically grown using the CVD method. These indicators can be tested for in a lab or deduced by a trained jeweler viewing a CVD diamond under a microscope.

Type IIA

Like natural diamonds, CVD diamonds are classified based on their physical properties and color and given a scientific grading. Every diamond comes with a diamond grading report from an independent laboratory. This report will state its qualities and type.

There are two major categories of diamonds: type I and type II, and minor categories within the broader types: type Ia, type Ib, type IIa, and type IIb. The key determinant between type I and type II diamonds is the presence of nitrogen. When nitrogen impurities (the result of nitrogen gas within the earth’s surface) are present in a diamond, it is considered Type I. Type I diamonds are the most common diamond type found in nature.

The process of Chemical Vapor Deposition used to create CVD diamonds produces a stone that qualifies as a Type IIA diamond. Diamonds of a Type IIA nature are the most chemically pure diamonds; they have no measurable nitrogen or boron impurities and are usually colorless. Type IIA diamonds are incredibly rare naturally. Because of their rarity, it is typically assumed that any diamond with this type was lab grown, although it’s not impossible to see natural Type IIA diamonds.

How To Test A CVD Diamond

With certain scientific methods, trained gemologists can test diamonds to determine whether or not they are CVD. This is only possible though with extremely advanced instrumentation and expert knowledge of diamonds, both synthetic and natural. The Gemology Institute of America (GIA) has the capability to perform such tests, and can identify whether a diamond originated from nature or a lab.

Although expert gemologists can identify a CVD diamond from a naturally mined diamond, the typical consumer won’t be able to tell the difference. If you select a CVD diamond for your engagement ring, neither you nor your friends and family will see any visual evidence of the method in which it was grown. On the contrary, you’ll see an heirloom-quality diamond.

Three Nexus Diamond™ alternative stones

Cost of  a CVD Diamond

Lab-grown diamonds such as CVD diamonds use far fewer natural resources and labor compared to traditionally mined diamonds and thus, are far less expensive. Although obtaining the stone is less expensive, the cost of cutting and polishing a CVD diamond and designing the product around it is the same as it is for a natural diamond. So, you can still expect to see engagement rings and the like at premium prices, fitting of fine jewelry. However, the prices of these lab diamonds are still substantially lower than naturally mined diamond products at around 50-70% less.

Why Consider a CVD Diamond?

There are numerous reasons to consider purchasing a CVD diamond if you’re in the market for that special stone.

Quality :
If you are looking for a diamond of unparalleled quality that shines brighter and whiter than all the rest, a CVD diamond will allow you to have it at a fraction of the cost of a same quality natural diamond. CVD diamonds measure up in both durability and beauty. In fact, it’s possible for CVD diamonds to turn out purer than natural diamonds because they are created under carefully controlled conditions. This makes CVD diamonds a great option for anyone who wants unrivaled color and clarity.

Color :
A CVD Diamond could also be right for you if you’re looking for a fancy colored diamond. Because the CVD process uses natural gas, the color of the diamond can be carefully controlled. While the method is known for producing colorless or near colorless diamonds thanks to the absence of nitrogen, it can also be used to produce blue, pink, or yellow diamonds too with the addition of boron or nitrogen. The cost of naturally mined fancy colored diamonds can be exorbitant due to their rarity, but CVD diamonds make these unique stones accessible to all.

Cost :
In addition to being able to control color, the CVD process also allows scientists to control diamond size and purity. This means there is a consistent influx of high quality diamonds coming out of CVD production facilities. The more readily available the diamond, the less expensive it is. While the process by which CVD diamonds come to market make them more affordable, they are still extremely valuable, and as such, still come at a cost, but a cost that’s relatively less than mined diamonds. The relatively lower cost, though, allows you, the consumer, to focus on qualities you desire in an engagement ring stone like a larger carat weight or a sparklier cut.

Ethics :
While the quality, look, and cost of a diamond is often what first draws us to it, where it comes from is equally as important, if not more so. With a CVD diamond, you’ll never have to wonder whether your diamond is the result of unethical practices such as forced labor or ecologically damaging mining processes. You can trace the origin of a CVD diamond much easier than you can a natural diamond, and rest easy knowing it didn’t cause any harm to the earth or its people along its journey.

CVD diamonds are conflict-free

CVD Diamond Alternatives

A CVD diamond comes with a number of benefits, but it is just one kind of lab-grown diamond. Lab grown diamonds can also be created via a process called HPHT, which stands for High Pressure High Temperature. This process more closely mimics the geological forces at work in the creation of natural diamonds. The HPHT diamond process is also more expensive than the CVD process because it requires more heavy-duty equipment.

In addition to lab grown diamonds that are chemically identical to diamonds, there are also diamond alternatives, called diamond simulants, that provide the same sparkle and shine as a natural or CVD diamond but with a different chemical composition and even better value.

Here at Diamond Nexus, our engagement rings are made with the Nexus Diamond™ alternative, a lab-created diamond simulant that beautifully mimics the look and wear of a diamond but is chemically distinct. Like CVD diamonds, the Nexus Diamond alternative is created in a lab, so it is more eco-friendly and affordable than a mined diamond. Plus, it is colorless, flawless, and the ideal cut. Learn more about the Nexus Diamond alternative.

Thanks to modern innovations in technology, lab grown diamonds and diamond alternatives are widely available, giving you the opportunity to find everything you want in a ring i.e. perfection without having to pay a fortune for it.

*Here at Diamond Nexus, we strive to provide valuable information while being clear and honest about our products. The Nexus Diamond™ alternative is a patented lab created diamond simulate that, among all simulants, most closely imitates the look, weight and wear of a diamond, with two exceptions – it is absolutely perfect in every way, and it costs significantly less. Price points and environmental facts expressed in this blog were taken from popular online retailers and may vary. Learn more about the environmental impact of mining by visiting our blog.

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