China is leading the world in the development of the lab-grown diamond industry, consistently improving the industry's production chain.
Natural diamonds take an exceptionally long time to form, while the cultivation of lab-grown diamonds, thanks to the application of relevant technologies, can be completed within a few weeks. The quality of these cultivated diamonds rivals that of mined ones.
Photo shows artificial diamonds produced by a graphite factory in Jixi city, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province. (Xinhua/Xie Jianfei)
Lab-created diamonds are synthesized by artificially mimicking the growth environment of natural diamonds, and resemble their natural counterparts in composition and in their physical, chemical and optical properties, said Wu Xiaolei, a manager at the Zhengzhou Research Institute for Abrasives & Grinding Co., Ltd. based in Zhengzhou city, central China's Henan Province.
Wu said lab-grown diamonds are created using either the high pressure and high temperature (HPHT) process or the microwave plasma-assisted chemical vapor deposition (MPCVD) process.
Synthetic diamonds, being more environmentally friendly and cheaper than naturally mined ones, can be mass-produced, said Guo Sheng, founder of CARAXY, a Chinese lab-grown diamond jewelry brand. Founded in 2015, CARAXY became one of China's earliest synthetic diamond brands.
In recent years, China's output of synthetic diamonds has continuously risen due to improvements in production technologies.
In 2021, the country produced over 4 million carats of synthetic diamonds, representing nearly half of the world's total.
China produces approximately 50 percent of the world's synthetic diamonds, said Zhang Xiongzhi, chairman of the Guangzhou Diamond Exchange at the China International Laboratory-Grown Diamond Industry Development & Innovation Congress 2023, recently held in Guangzhou, south China's Guangdong Province.
CARAXY has already opened four stores across China, with plans to expand into more first- and second-tier cities this year, according to Guo.
Photo shows an exhibition booth of lab-grown diamond jewelry brand CARAXY at a wedding expo in 2022. (Photo courtesy of CARAXY)
The rapid development of China's lab-grown diamond industry is closely linked to the country's strength in super-hard materials, such as industrial diamonds.
Henan Province, a hub for R&D and talent in super-hard materials, is home to over 200 manufacturers that cover the complete industrial chain, including raw materials, industrial diamonds, single crystal diamonds, and lab-grown diamond products.
Zhecheng Huifeng Diamond Technology Co., Ltd., a company that develops, produces and sells diamond micron powder in Zhecheng county, Henan, expanded into lab-grown diamonds last August. It now mass-produces high-grade rough synthetic diamonds exclusively for overseas markets.
"In recent years, we have witnessed the emergence of companies and brands related to artificial diamonds experiencing prosperous development. The increasing environmental consciousness of young consumers, along with their desire for unique and cost-effective products, has provided new opportunities for the development of the lab-grown diamond industry," said Han Jinghe, deputy general manager of the company.