Lab-grown diamonds

Finance Minister announced the government’s decision to focus on lab-grown diamonds during her Budget speech (LGDs).

What was the FM’s announcement?

  • The finance minister announced that customs duties on seeds used in lab-grown diamond manufacturing will be reduced.
  • She also announced a grant to IITs to help grow LGDs in India.

What exactly are laboratory-grown diamonds (LGD)?

  • Lab-grown diamonds are diamonds created using technology that mimics the geological processes that produce natural diamonds.
  • They are not the same as “diamond simulants” – because LGDs are chemically, physically, and optically diamond, it is difficult to distinguish them as “lab-grown.”
  • While Moissanite, Cubic Zirconia (CZ), White Sapphire, YAG, and other materials are “diamond simulants” that simply attempt to “look” like diamonds.
  • LGDs have basic properties that are similar to natural diamonds, such as optical dispersion, which gives them the signature diamond sheen.
  • They lack the radiance and durability of diamonds and are thus easily distinguished.
  • However, distinguishing between an LGD and an Earth Mined Diamond is difficult, requiring sophisticated equipment.

How are LGDs created?

  • LGDs can be manufactured in a variety of ways.
  • HPHT (high pressure, high temperature) method: This method necessitates the use of extremely high pressure, high temperature presses capable of producing up to 730,000 psi of pressure at extremely high temperatures (at least 1500 Celsius). Graphite is typically used as the “diamond seed,” and when subjected to these extreme conditions, the relatively inexpensive form of carbon transforms into one of the most expensive forms of carbon.
  • Other procedures include: These include “Chemical Vapor Deposition” (CVD) and explosive formation that creates what are known as “detonation nano-diamonds”.

What are LGDs used for?

(1) Production

  • LGDs, for example, are most commonly used in industrial applications, such as machines and tools. Because of their hardness and extra strength, they are ideal for use as cutters.
  • Pure synthetic diamonds also have a high thermal conductivity but a negligible electrical conductivity.

(2) Electronics industry

  • This combination is invaluable in electronics, where high-power laser diodes, laser arrays, and high-power transistors can be used as heat spreaders.

(3) Jewellery

  • Finally, as natural diamond reserves deplete, LGDs are gradually replacing the prized gemstone in the jewelry industry.
  • Importantly, LGDs, like natural diamonds, go through the same polishing and cutting processes that give diamonds their luster.
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