February 13

What Is a CVD Diamond? | Is It Lab-Made or Natural and Can You Tell the Difference?


Author: Paula Vysovska

Key Takeaways

  • While people mine some diamonds from the earth's belly, others are lab-grown.
  • The lab-grown diamonds are CVD diamonds, and the name comes from chemical vapor deposition; the process used to make them.
  • Although CVD diamonds are synthetic (man-made), differentiating them from natural diamonds with the naked eye is not a piece of cake.
  • Generally, it would take around one month to create a one-carat CVD diamond.
  • Compared to mined diamonds, CVD diamonds cost less- around 20-30% cheaper.

The CVD process involves using a gas mixture containing carbon atoms, which is then deposited on a substrate, forming a thin diamond film. Subsequently, the carbon atoms attach themselves to the seed diamond, layer after layer, until you complete the process. The CVD technique births Type IIA stones, which rank among the most chemically pure diamonds.

What Is a CVD Diamond?

CVD diamonds share similar physical properties such as diamond density and chemical compositions with natural diamonds. They look so much alike that it would be impossible to tell a CVD diamond from a natural diamond with the naked eye!

So, is a CVD diamond a prudent choice? With loads of benefits, ranging from a short formation time to environmental and ethical reasons, it may be.

diamonds on the white background

Are CVD Diamonds Real Diamonds?

Now that you know what CVD diamonds are, you are probably wondering whether they are real diamonds. CVD diamonds are genuine diamonds. Despite being made in a laboratory setting, they are optically, chemically, and physically similar to natural diamonds mined from the earth.

Indeed, CVD diamonds might not be formed like naturally-occurring diamonds. Nevertheless, everything else about them is identical to the stones formed below the earth's surface. This includes their brilliance, unmatched fire, and atomic structure, among other aspects.

Still not convinced that CVD diamonds are equal, if not better, than the real thing? Check this out: in 2018, the United States Federal Trade Commission released a statement that man-made diamonds (CVD diamonds included) and natural diamonds are the same.

a ring on bride's finger

Differences Between Synesthetic Diamonds and Diamond Simulants

Many people often cannot tell the difference between a lab-grown diamond and a diamond simulant. Diamond simulants like white sapphire, cubic zirconia, and moissanite aren't genuine diamonds. They are imitation diamonds, unlike CVD diamonds which are real diamonds.

How Can You Tell if a Diamond is a CVD?

There are various ways to tell whether you have a mined diamond or a lab-grown diamond on your hands. Let's check out some of them, and when you are done, we promise you'll be able to identify a CVD diamond effortlessly.

Visual Inspection

It is easy to identify a CVD diamond by looking for telltale signs. CVDs are usually  yellow and brownish diamonds, with yellow fluorescence, unlike natural diamonds, which are often colorless. This color is visible to your naked eye.

In addition, CVD diamonds can have more inclusions and a lower diamond clarity than natural diamonds. Nonetheless, some CVD diamonds are colorless, meaning it can be tricky to identify a CVD diamond based on color alone.

Check the Certificate

If your diamond has a certificate from a respected grading lab, it should tell you whether it's a lab-created diamond or a natural diamond.

Consult a Trained Jeweler

When deciding whether you have a natural or lab diamond, seeing an expert is recommended. A certified gemological institute or respected diamond dealers can help establish the diamond's authenticity.

Using Specialized Equipment

There is specialized equipment used to determine whether a diamond is CVD or natural, including:

Raman Spectroscopy

This technique involves exciting the diamond bonds using a laser that produces a distinctive spectroscopic signature. Considering that natural diamonds have different Raman spectrum signatures from CVD stones, it's easy to tell them apart.

Infrared Spectroscopy

The Infrared spectroscopy technique applied infrared light to measure the stone's absorption spectrum. Mined stones have a distinctive absorption pattern from CVD diamonds, making them distinguishable. After analyzing the absorption spectrum, a CVD diamond will show impurities, unlike mined diamonds.

X-ray Fluorescence

For this technique, you bombard the diamond with X-rays and then measure its chemical composition. Seeing that a natural diamond is constituted of different elements compared to a CVD diamond, it means the elemental composition will vary.

Does a CVD Diamond Pass Diamond Tester?

Absolutely! A CVD diamond should pass a diamond tester since its physical and optical characteristics resemble those of a natural diamond. A diamond tester is a device that exploits the fact that diamonds are naturally great thermal conductors; hence they'll conduct heat away from a heat source faster than other materials.

When you touch the tester with a diamond, it will cool down more rapidly than when in contact with another material. A CVD diamond should respond similarly to a natural diamond when tested using a diamond tester.

Are CVD and Lab Grown Diamonds the Same?

CVD stones and lab-grown diamonds don't necessarily mean the same, although both are created in a lab setting. CVD diamonds are made by chemical vapor deposition, which is used to form synthetic diamonds.

On the other hand, lab-grown diamonds or man-made diamonds are formed through techniques such as HPHT (High-Pressure, High-Temperature) and CVD. Still, both lab-grown and CVD diamonds have similar optical, chemical, and physical traits as mined diamonds.

Advantages of CVD Diamonds

  • Lab diamonds come with unmatched brilliance, fire, and sparkle like natural diamonds. But they are more brilliant and sparkly.
  • Lab-grown diamonds are less expensive compared to natural diamonds.
  • You can get lab-grown diamonds in different colors, shapes, and sizes.
  • Lab diamonds have a lesser impact on the environment compared to mined stones.
  • A lab diamond is not a blood diamond, meaning like a mined diamond; it doesn't come from conflict regions.
various shape diamonds on the dark surface


What Are the Benefits of CVD Diamonds?

Some of the uses of CVD diamonds stem from the fact that a synthetic diamond can grow extremely hard and possesses excellent chemical stability and thermal conductivity. They are used in the electronics, aerospace, and military sectors, crafting cutting tools, and jewelry.

How Fast Do CVD Diamonds Grow?

How fast CVD diamonds grow is determined by the final expected size of the diamond and how efficient the technology applied is.

Which Is Cheaper? CVD Lab Grown or Natural Diamonds?

Compared to a naturally-occurring diamond, the price of a synthetic diamond can be considerably lower. This is because CVD stones are made in the lab, and the process takes significantly less time, sometimes even as little as a month! Therefore, the CVD process is more cost-effective compared with mining for diamonds.

How Much Do CVD Diamonds Cost?

Lab-grown diamonds may cost 20-30% less than natural or mined diamonds. For instance, you could buy a 1.5-carat natural diamond at the same price as a 2-carat CVD stone.

Are CVD Diamonds the Right Choice for Me?

There you have it. By now, you are well-versed in all matters of CVD diamonds. Can't you afford a natural diamond? Or do you want more fire and brilliance in your rock? All is not lost! You can get a CVD diamond just as brilliant as a mined stone, if not better.

About the Author:

Paula Vysovska

I have a strong background in editorial roles as well as content writing. I oversee all Diamond Explainer content on the topics related to fine jewelry, precious gemstones, and the diamond industry in general.

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