Diamonds can now be grown in a laboratory which can be so pure they’re just about indistinguishable from pure stones.
Sky Information was given uncommon entry to a lab the place a one-carat diamond will be “cultured” in a matter of days.
And in an astonishing instance of modern-day alchemy the uncooked elements are simply methane and hydrogen fuel.
Professor Oliver Williams of Cardiff College makes diamond sheets for analysis into semi-conductors. However the identical course of can be utilized to develop gems.
He mentioned: “The diamonds are purer than something you’d see in nature.
“With the very best growers, lower than one atom in a trillion is an impurity.”
:: World’s ‘most lovely’ diamond offered at public sale for £25.5m
Prof Williams begins the method by placing a small “seed” diamond in a vacuum chamber to exclude air.
He then pumps in methane and hydrogen fuel that are heated to three,000C, which types a plasma.
The gases break aside, with carbon from the methane being deposited on the seed diamond.
The carbon copies the crystal construction of the diamond, which grows at a price of round zero.006mm an hour.
Pure diamonds are created over thousands and thousands of years within the excessive temperature and strain 90 miles under the Earth’s floor.
However Professor Williams mentioned lab-grown diamonds deserve extra consideration.
“It is man really beating nature,” he mentioned.
“We’re perfecting it. So for me there’s an emotional factor to that too – as a result of it is an infinite accomplishment to develop a fabric that historically has been very troublesome to develop.”
:: ‘Masterpiece’ Pink Promise diamond sells for £24.1m in Hong Kong
A number of firms world wide are actually rising diamonds for jewelry, with costs round 15-20% lower than a pure stone of the identical measurement.
They’ll make diamonds yellow by including nitrogen to the vacuum chamber, or blue by including boron.
Savvy + Sand is considered the one jewellers in London’s Hatton Backyard to promote each pure and man-made diamonds.
Sandeep Babber, who co-owns the store, mentioned the 2 are indistinguishable to the bare eye.
Lab-grown, or “above floor”, stones make up lower than 10% of his diamond enterprise, however curiosity is rising.
He mentioned: “I feel it is so private. In fact we have now prospects that love the concept of above floor diamonds, that it has much less environmental impression (than mining).
“However then the vast majority of our clientele nonetheless do go for the pure diamond. I do really feel it is purely advertising pushed.
“Above-ground stones haven’t had time to be marketed as extensively.”
Till the 1940s diamonds weren’t the norm for engagement rings. However then De Beers started its “A diamond is eternally” advertising marketing campaign and demand boomed.
The trade was challenged by the movie Blood Diamond which centered consideration on mining income getting used to fund conflicts in Africa.
After starring within the movie, Leonardo DiCaprio invested in a lab-grown diamond firm “cultivating actual diamonds in America with out the human and environmental toll of mining”.
However firms say elevated transparency now permits diamonds to be traced, guaranteeing that they arrive from moral sources.
Nonetheless the rise of lab-grown diamonds is inflicting a stir within the mining trade. It takes a £10,000 machine to inform the stones aside.
However Jean-Marc Lieberherr, chief government of the Diamond Producers Affiliation, mentioned the worth of a gem is partly as a result of its sentimental high quality.
He instructed Sky Information: “The actual fact they can’t be distinguished with bare eye doesn’t make them an identical, or equal.
“Consider superb reproduction of Picasso portray. We would not have the ability to inform it aside, however with the best tools an knowledgeable will have the ability to.
“One has huge financial and emotional worth, one is a reproduction with no inherent or resale worth.
“It is the identical factor with diamonds. Efficient industrial replicas of the actual factor.”
However Professor Williams doesn’t see the distinction.
“Carbon atoms are the age of the universe, or a minimum of the final time it got here out of a star,” he mentioned.
“To me it is simply carbon! However I’m a scientist so maybe I’ve a unique method to issues.”