Lab-grown or synthetic diamonds are diamonds that are made in a laboratory environment using various technological processes, as opposed to being mined from the earth. They are becoming increasingly popular due to their lower cost, ethical sourcing, ability to control the quality of the diamond being produced. There are two ways of creating these diamonds.
- High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT)
A small diamond seed (carbon rich material like graphite or a small piece of a natural diamond) is placed in a high-pressure, high-temperature environment subjected to extreme pressure and heat. This causes the carbon atoms to arrange themselves in a crystal lattice structure, which grows into a full-sized diamond.
The process takes place inside a press, which consists of two halves called anvils made of strong material like tungsten carbide or steel. The diamond seed and the carbon-rich material are placed in the press and subjected to pressure in excess of 5 gigapascals (GPa) and temperature in surplus of 1500°C. At these conditions, the carbon atoms dissolve into the molten metal and then recrystallize as diamond.
Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD)
CVD is a process that breaks down carbon-rich gases into individual carbon atoms and deposits them onto a substrate, forming a diamond lattice structure. The substrate is placed in the vacuum chamber and heated at a high temperature. The carbon-rich gases are introduced to the chamber where they are broken down into individual carbon atoms, which deposit onto the substrate. The carbon atoms then arrange themselves into a diamond lattice structure, and grow over time as a diamond crystal.
Both HPHT and CVD processes can produce diamonds that are chemically, physically, and optically identical to mined diamonds. The only difference between lab-grown diamonds and mined diamonds is their origin, which has no impact on the quality, durability.
USES & DEMAND :
The usage of LGDs in industry spans a wide range of fields, from the fabrication of cutting and grinding tools to luxury items in gems and jewelry, It is also used in PC chips, machines, construction, mining operations (mineral extraction), gem exploration, medical procedures, experimental physics, space research, electronics, thermal management, electrical conductivity, radiation detection, and more.
OVERVIEW OF THE INDUSTRY
The lab-grown diamond industry has experienced significant growth in recent years and is expected to continue growing in the future. Here are some key points that provide a quick overview of the lab-grown diamond industry:
Market size: According to several sources the LGD global market size reached USD 20.3 billion as of 2021 and is expected to reach USD 28.95 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 11.5% from 2021 to 2026.
Market share: The market share of lab-grown diamonds accounted for approximately 6% in 2020 and is crossing the 10% mark in 2023.
Regional demand: The demand for lab-grown diamonds varies by region, with North America and Asia being the largest markets. In 2020, North America and Asia accounted for approximately 70% of the global lab-grown diamond market.
SCOPE IN INDIA : India could become a major hub for the production and processing of lab-grown diamonds. India exported $1.05 billion worth of polished lab-grown diamonds from April 2021 to January 2022.
According to the Gem & Jewelry Export Promotion Council’s most recent industry data (GJEPC) LGD’s saw a phenomenal growth of over 113% with a large market and a significant workforce which accounts for 29% of global jewellery consumption employing almost 4 million people in the market each year.
Government initiatives to boost LGD :
The union budget for 2023 aims to advance manufacturing of LGD reducing duty on LGD seeds from 5% to 0%.
A research grant of Rs. 242 crore to IIT Madras over 5 years has been approved
The Custom duty on imitation jewellery has been increased to 25% from 20% to discourage cheap imports from China and encourage domestic manufacturing.
LGD industry is emerging as a high research area with a prominent market value. In collaboration with IIT, the technical infrastructure of LGD manufacturing will expand, resulting high employment opportunities. These measures will help make the LGD manufacturing in India a leader in the same manner as diamantaires have dominated the natural diamond processing sector.