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What are Lab-Grown Diamonds (LGDs)?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Lab-Grown Diamond (LGD)

Mains level: NA

lab grown diamond ldg

Central Idea

  • During PM Modi’s state visit to the US, he presented First Lady Jill Biden with a 7.5-carat lab-grown diamond as a gift.
  • Lab-grown diamonds, also known as LGDs, have gained popularity in recent years due to their ethical and environmental advantages over mined diamonds.
The diamond, a gift for First Lady Jill Biden, was gifted in a papier mache box. “Known as kar-e-kalamdani, Kashmir’s exquisite papier mache involves sakthsazi or meticulous preparation of paper pulp and naqqashi, where skilled artisans paint elaborate designs,” a statement from the MEA said.

What is Lab-Grown Diamond (LGD)?

  • Lab-grown diamonds are diamonds created using technology that simulates the natural geological processes of diamond formation.
  • Unlike diamond simulants, such as Moissanite or Cubic Zirconia, LGDs possess the same chemical, physical, and optical properties as natural diamonds.

Ethical and Environmental Advantages

  • LGDs are considered socially and environmentally responsible alternatives to mined diamonds.
  • Their production avoids the socially exploitative aspects of diamond mining and reduces the environmental impact associated with traditional mining practices.

Characteristics of gifted diamond

  • Carat Weight: The diamond weighs 7.5 carats. Carat weight refers to the size and weight of the diamond, with one carat equal to 200 milligrams.
  • Origin: The diamond is created in a laboratory using advanced technology and does not come from natural diamond mining.
  • Certification: The diamond has been certified by the Gemological Lab, IGI (International Gemological Institute). Certification ensures that the diamond meets industry standards for quality and authenticity.
  • Cutting and Polishing: The diamond is expertly cut and polished to enhance its brilliance and visual appeal. The precise craftsmanship and attention to detail result in a well-cut and faceted diamond.

Methods of LGD Production

(A) High Pressure, High Temperature (HPHT) Method:

  • This common method involves subjecting a diamond seed, typically made of graphite, to extreme pressures and temperatures to transform it into a diamond.
  • HPHT requires heavy presses capable of generating immense pressure (up to 730,000 psi) and temperatures exceeding 1500 degrees Celsius.

(B) Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) and Explosive Formation:

  • CVD involves the deposition of carbon atoms onto a diamond seed using a gas mixture, resulting in the growth of a diamond layer.
  • Explosive formation, known as detonation nano-diamonds, utilizes explosive reactions to create tiny diamond particles.

Properties and Applications of LGDs

  • Optical Properties and Durability: LGDs possess similar optical dispersion to natural diamonds, giving them the characteristic sparkle. Their durability makes them suitable for industrial applications, such as cutters and tools.
  • Enhanced Properties and Industrial Uses: LGDs can have their properties enhanced for specific purposes, such as high thermal conductivity and negligible electrical conductivity. These properties make LGDs valuable for electronics, acting as heat spreaders for high-power laser diodes and transistors.

Impact on the Diamond Industry

(A) Sustainable Growth in the Jewellery Industry

  • As natural diamond reserves decline, LGDs are gradually replacing mined diamonds in the jewelry sector.
  • The production processes for LGDs, including cutting and polishing, align with established practices in the diamond industry.

(B) India’s Diamond Industry

  • The rise of LGDs is unlikely to significantly impact India’s diamond industry, which specializes in polishing and cutting diamonds.
  • India’s established diamond industry can continue to thrive while incorporating LGDs as part of its offerings.

Commercial LGD Production in India: InCent-LGD

  • In the Union Budget 23-24, a 5-year research grant was announced for an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) with the aim of encouraging the development of LGD machinery, seeds, and recipes.
  • It would establish the India Centre for Lab Grown Diamond (InCent-LGD) at IIT Madras.
  • The primary aim of InCent-LGD is to provide technical assistance to domestic industries and entrepreneurs, fostering indigenous manufacturing of Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD) and High Pressure and High Temperature (HPHT) systems.
  • The project seeks to expand the Lab-Grown Diamond (LGD) business by offering affordable technology to start-ups, creating employment opportunities, and boosting LGD exports.

Economic significance of LGDs

  • The Gems and Jewellery sector contributes approximately 9% to India’s total merchandise exports and plays a crucial role in the economy.
  • LGD have emerged as a notable technological development in the industry, finding applications not only in jewellery but also in sectors like computer chips, satellites, 5G networks, defense, optics, and thermal & medical industries.
  • The global LGD diamond market, valued at $1 billion in 2020, is expected to grow rapidly, reaching $5 billion by 2025 and surpassing $15 billion by 2035.

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