Synthetic diamond, also known as cultured diamond or cultivated diamond, is diamond produced in an artificial process, as opposed to natural diamonds, which are created by geological processes. Synthetic diamond is also widely known as HPHT diamond or CVD diamond after the two common production methods (referring to the high-pressure high-temperature and chemical vapor deposition crystal formation methods, respectively).
While the term synthetic is associated by consumers with imitation products, artificial diamonds are made of the same material (pure carbon, crystallized in isotropic 3D form). In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission has indicated that the alternative terms laboratory-grown, laboratory-created, and [manufacturer-name]-created “would more clearly communicate the nature of the stone”.
The properties of synthetic diamond depend on the details of the manufacturing processes; however, some synthetic diamonds have properties such as hardness, thermal conductivity and electron mobility that are superior to those of most naturally formed diamonds. Synthetic diamond is widely used in abrasives, and other high-end commercial electronic enterprises. It is estimated that 98% of industrial grade diamond demand is supplied with synthetic diamonds. Both CVD and HPHT diamonds can be cut into gems and various colors can be produced: clear white, yellow, brown, blue, green and orange.
The appearance of synthetic gems on the market created major concerns in the diamond trading business, and one would not be able to tell the difference between a lab-grown diamond and a mined diamond without special spectroscopic devices and techniques to distinguish them. Generally, lab-created diamonds retail for approximately 20 to 30 percent less than mined diamonds.