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Once the atoms in graphite have been freed, high pressure is applied. One way pressure is measured is called an ‘atmosphere’ which is equivalent to the average pressure of the earth’s atmosphere at sea level. It takes a pressure level of 50,000 to 100, 000 atmospheres for the freed carbon atoms to re-arrange themselves into the orderly configuration of a diamond crystal structure. Once the pressure has reached the appropriate level, the temperature is reduced and the sample is allowed to re-solidify before the pressure is removed. This process occurred naturally deep within the earth’s mantle some 3300 to 990 million years ago causing the formation of the natural diamond crystals we mine today. Various other chemical elements that were present during the diamond’s formation, may have become included within the crystal’s growth and are called ‘inclusions.’ These impurities resulted in color and clarity characteristics that affect a diamond’s appearance. In the laboratory, chemical elements other than carbon are kept to a minimum, thus reducing the number of inclusions able to form in a cultures diamond crystal and governing its final color.

This is the basic process for the formation of diamond from carbon.  The complete laboratory process is more involved, requiring “seeds” to start the crystal’s creation just as with Mikimoto’s cultured pearls.  But as one can see, cultured diamonds are formed intrinsically the same way as by nature, only above ground in a controlled environment requiring several days to grow rather than millions of years.  In fact, because the process is regulated and controlled so carefully, cultured diamonds form under ideal conditions causing them to be ‘better’ than natural, with their atoms aligned in such a manner as to make them stronger than what they might be otherwise.  So, to answer the second question with regard to cultured diamonds, yes, they are as durable as natural diamonds, if not slightly better, because they’re comprised of the same substance as naturals, and formed under the best conditions while eliminating the majority of chemical inclusions that could weaken their atomic bonding.

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