NOV 25, 2016 09:39 AM PST

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WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Few gemstones carry as much cultural weight as diamonds. Popularized by the mining and trading giant De Beers, diamonds are considered to be the appropriate engagement gift. But for those who don't have the funds or who don't want to buy into the diamond monopoly, there is a more nerdy (but equally shiny) alternative: lab-grown diamonds.

Lab-grown diamonds are technically and chemically the equivalent of diamonds pulled from the earth. They both start out with carbon atoms. Add intense heat and pressure, and the carbon atoms crystalize into sparkly gems. However, while the Earth-made version can take hundreds of years to materialize, the synthetic version can be created in a fraction of the time.

Is one more "real" than the other? Well, that depends on your definition of what "real" is. If it's chemical structure, then the answer would be no - both are the same. In fact, manmade diamonds can tout lower impurity levels, which add to its brilliance factor. Watch the video to learn more about how diamonds are created in the lab!
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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