Nowadays, almost anything can be mimicked and created in a lab of some sorts - from fibers that are supposed to be natural to foods, beverages, and so on. However, what you may not know is that diamonds can now be created in a laboratory as well.
On top of that, even if these precious stones are synthetic in nature, they still come with great value - both when it comes to money and when it comes to feelings. Why?
This is because, in most cases, synthetic diamonds are made from ashes or locks of hair - locks from your significant other, for example, and ashes from a loved one that has passed away or even from a beloved pet.
As such, in today's article, we'll take a closer look at how ashes are turned into diamonds, scientifically speaking. This may shine some light onto this particular topic for those that don't understand it completely or persuade others to choose synthetic diamonds rather than real ones.
The Basic Element of Diamonds
When it comes to diamonds overall, the basic ingredient that is needed to create one - either in nature or in a laboratory - is carbon. As such, in order to turn ashes into diamonds, one will need a sample of pure carbon from which they'll almost literally grow a diamond.
Now, given that roughly 18% of the human body is made of carbon, it goes without saying why cremation jewelry is so popular right now. The ashes resulted from the cremation process can be used as raw material when manufacturing diamonds - basically, from ashes to diamonds.
How are Synthetic Diamonds Made?
Diamonds can be artificially created either via HPHT or CVD. The first version, high pressure-high temperature, implies the heating of carbon to up to 1500 degrees Celsius, while also pressurizing it to roughly 1.5 million pounds per square inch.
Then, the carbon cools down and reveals a pure but unpolished carbon diamond. This is the preferred method used by companies that specialize in cremation jewelry.
The second version, chemical vapor deposition, is based on the aforementioned one. A small slice of diamond seed - created via HPHT - is taken and placed into a high-heat chamber, after which it is filled with gas rich in carbon. In the end, the diamond is formed by crystallization.
High Pressure-High Temperature Diamonds
As mentioned above, most manufacturers that turn ashes into diamonds rely on the HPHT way of doing this. As such, we'll show you through this particular process, to help you further understand how it works.
1. Sample Analysis
In the early stages of turning ashes to diamonds, scientists need to analyze the sample of carbon that they receive from clients. This is because an in-depth analysis will reveal the sample's composition and show which chemicals have to be removed to ensure the best purification method possible.
2. Extraction and Purification
Both the extraction and purification processes that follow the analysis mentioned above are chemical. This is when the contaminants found in the ashes have to be removed.
The most common elements that are found in the sample are salts and boron. The latter has to be removed as it will affect the color of the final diamond - if boron is not removed, the gem will have shades of blue that are more or less pleasant.
During the extraction and purification process, scientists aim for a carbon purity of at least 99%.
3. Temperature and Pressure
In order to turn ashes into diamonds, the laboratory must replicate the same conditions that are found in the Earth's crust. Namely, a temperature exceeding 2000 degrees Celsius must be reached - as well as a pressure of over 60,000 atmospheres.
The pressure used to create a synthetic diamond can be compared to roughly 450 tons sitting on a surface that's as big as the bottom of a glass.
Then, to properly turn ashes to diamonds, one must polish and make them look like an actual diamond. Even though some clients are satisfied with rough diamonds, it goes without saying that most of them prefer a polished or even a shaped one.
This is because they usually set these diamonds into certain jewelry - necklaces, rings, and so on. Naturally, the polishing process does not take place in a lab.
The Magic of the Laboratory
As you've seen, the laboratory is responsible for only a couple of things when it comes to turning ashes into diamonds. First of all, a team will analyze the ashes sample and then remove any impurities.
Then, the following procedure simply implies the mimicking of a natural environment found deep within the Earth. In the end, the team working on the project is left with a rough and very pure diamond!
On top of that, a diamond created into a laboratory is usually 20% to 40% less expensive than a mined one. Therefore, given the purity of the two versions doesn't vary that much, it's clear why more and more people tend to choose synthetic diamonds, especially when it comes to wedding or mourning jewelry.
Moreover, some manufacturers also give you the opportunity to customize your diamond. As mentioned above, boron will give the diamond a shade of blue if not removed.
As such, the scientists can work with a variety of chemical elements and compounds and give the diamond the color that you want - the most common colors are blue, green, yellow, purple, red, pink, orange, and turquoise.
The Bottom Line
Even though the science behind the turning of ashes to diamonds may sound simple, it is a bit more complicated than one would think. However, it's nothing too extreme - it implies some basic knowledge over the formation of natural diamonds.
On the other hand, it goes without saying why more and more people love the idea of ashes into diamonds. As mentioned, they are less expensive than natural ones - which also protects the environment as there's no need to mine for any elements.
On top of that, people now have a way to commemorate their loved ones through an item that brings joy - unlike an urn, for example. Being able to cherish the memory of your loved one with the help of a sparkling diamond is, without any doubt, the best thing that we can do!