Lab-Created Diamonds

1893- Dr. Henri Moissan is the first to attempt the creation of “man-made” diamonds after being inspired by the discovery of tiny “diamonds” in a crater in Arizona that had been made by a meteorite. This resulted in the creation of Moissanite: a diamond simulant (a stone of a different material that appears diamond-like and possesses some diamond-like characteristics including hardness and/or refractive capabilities).

1926- Dr. Willart Hersey, at Macpherson College, replicated Moissan’s work and succeeded and producing a synthetic (an artificially created stone with the same chemical structure and composition) diamond. This diamond is now on display in Kansas at the Macpherson Museum.

1937- 2 German mineralogists discover a rare diamond-like mineral called zirconium oxide (ZrO2). The mineral occurred so rarely that it was left unnamed and wouldn’t be revisited until years later.

1953- Apparatus is created by Baltzar van Platen and Anders Kämpe. Apparatus maintained pressure of an estimated 83,000 atmospheres. Commissioned by ASEA (Sweden’s major electrical manufacturing company), the apparatus is successful in creating a few synthetic diamond crystals in Stockholm, Sweden. Findings are intentionally kept secret.

1954-Tracy Hall with GE (General Electric) succeeds in synthesizing the first commercially successful synthetic diamond and is able to replicate his findings. Industrial man-made diamond industry becomes dominated by GE Superabrasives and De Beers Industrial Diamonds.

1970- Soviet Union revisits the mineral Zirconium Oxide (discovered in 1937). Using extreme heat (more than 2700 degrees Centigrade/approximately 4900 degreed Fahrenheit) they generate cubic crystals with diamond-like appearance- Cubic Zirconia (CZ). CZ is originally marketed as Djevalite and did not garner mainstream use until the Swarovski company mass marketed them in the 1980’s.

1980’s-A company called Iljin emerged out of Korea as a direct competitor to GE and De Beers. This, as well as several Chinese companies, arose as a result of the misappropriation of trade secrets by a Korean former GE employee.

2002-2003- De Beers Industrial Diamonds is rebranded to Element Six and begins operating as an independent company from De Beers. GE sells Superabrasives to private equity firm Littlejohn and renames it Diamond Innovations.

2005- Apollo Diamond uses an improved method of CVD (chemical vapor deposition) to create a large, pure, colorless diamond worthy of the jewelry industry.

2006- Market is flooded with several companies producing diamonds for jewelry and industrial purposes.