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Synthetic or lab-grown diamonds (we prefer to call them factory grown) are a hot topic currently, and more gem-quality synthetic diamonds are now being produced than ever before.
The main companies involved in the production of lab-grown diamonds are Element Six, a De Beers subsidiary, Pure Grown Diamonds, and Diamond Foundry, among many others.
There have been major advances in the production of synthetic diamonds since General Electric first produced synthetic diamonds in 1954.
High-Pressure High-Temperature treatment (HPHT) was developed by General Electric to improve the colour of certain types of natural diamonds.
During the formation and subsequent transportation of diamond crystals from deep within the earth's crust to the surface, distortion of the crystal lattice causes some diamonds to have a brown body colour.
Only if the diamond has negligible nitrogen and boron can HPHT be successful. It is estimated that only 3 out of 10,000 diamonds have this combination and are thus suitable for treatment.
Fracture filling is a post-cutting process that improves the clarity of a diamond, and is achieved through a process of filling surface-reaching cleavages, fractures and laser drill holes with glass or epoxy to make them less visible.
Laser drilling is another treatment that is designed to improve the clarity (and therefore appearance) of a diamond that contains dark inclusions.
A tiny hole is drilled into the diamond with a laser until it reaches the inclusion. The inclusion is then bleached or dissolved using acid. Some diamonds may have multiple drill holes.
Diamonds that have been treated to produce fancy colours are called colour-treated or colour-enhanced diamonds.
The process to produce colour-enhanced diamonds involves artificially altering the colour of a diamond by exposing it to radiation and/or other methods. The colours produced are the full range of the spectrum.
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