Unearthing the History of Laboratory Grown Diamonds

First Things First

Laboratory grown diamonds are visually, physically and atomically identical to their mined counterparts — in essence, they are just as “real” as those from the earth. The only true difference? Their point of origin. Through advancements in science and technology, a diamond can be “grown” above ground, within a controlled environment, replicating diamond growth processes that occur deep in the earth’s crust.

Today, they are more popular than ever, as modern consumers discover the inherent value of a laboratory grown diamond, and look for new sustainably-minded and socially responsible options in luxury. Years of scientific experiments, breakthroughs and discoveries lay behind us, and a bright future — ahead.

A Brief History

In 1797, scientists discovered that a diamond was made of pure Carbon (C), and a quiet frenzy of attempts were then made to convert different forms of carbon into diamonds. In the late 1800s, pioneering material scientists James Ballantyne Hannay and Ferdinand Frédéric Henri Moissan completed the first documented diamond growth attempt using high-pressure and high-temperature. While their ultimate success was never confirmed, many scientists began to experiment with their synthesis methods, leading way to a new generation of development and discovery.

Image of early diamond growth technology and experiments

In 1941, General Electric jumped into the ring and assembled a team to develop new, man-made diamond processes. Briefly interrupted by World War II, their work resumed in the ‘50s, with Tracy Hall of GE credited with the first verified batch of man-made diamonds in 1954. All small and of poor quality, they were initially used for industrial purposes, but a breakthrough nonetheless.

In the 1970s, GE successfully created small, gem-quality diamonds for the first time using the seeds of natural diamonds. Over the ensuing decades, until the end of the 20th century, new growing methods were introduced, all after the elusive goal of repeatable, consistent and high-quality diamond growth.

A Pioneer in Materials Science

Flash forward to 2008, the founding year of WD Lab Grown Diamonds, a cutting-edge diamond growth laboratory just outside of Washington, D.C.

At inception, WD became the exclusive patent licensee of pioneering Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) diamond growth technology and processes in development at the Carnegie Institution for Science. For 13 years, WD went on to perfect these patented processes — creating large, ‘As Grown’ diamonds of size, color, and clarity combinations unrivaled in the market. Led by technologists, scientists and renowned PhDs in crystal growth, WD established international recognition as a central figure in the field, breaking records and setting a new benchmark for diamond excellence.

Where We Come In

That brings us to 2021, and the launch of WD’s brand Latitude — uniting the best in technology, innovation, and purpose.

Image of seed to stone diamond and lifestyle shot showing connection

Today, our patented and perfected CVD process begins with a high-quality diamond seed — a thin sliver of a diamond — placed inside of a proprietary vacuum chamber. Carbon-rich gases are then introduced and heated to create plasma. Pure carbon atoms attach to the diamond seed, growing it into a new, larger diamond. Finally, through a fully traceable, sustainably-minded process, the rough Latitude diamond passes our rigorous quality inspection, and is then expertly planned, cut and polished by our team of diamond artisans. From there, each stone is graded against The 5Cs (Cut, Color, Clarity, Carat, and now, Climate Neutrality). (For a peek behind the scenes, check out our Technology page.)

Through our ground-breaking processes, centuries in the making and years in the perfecting, our diamonds are to the highest cut, quality and make. Grown in the U.S.A. Colorless and devoid of impurities. ‘As Grown’ without the need for post-growth treatment.

The Future of Diamonds

The times are changing. No longer will we, as a society, accept claims of environmental and social responsibility without third-party, transparent certification. It’s not enough to talk the talk. In keeping with our history of disruption, we undertook a rigorous, yearlong third-party Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) audit with international standards organization SCS Global Services. Because the future of diamonds is not just one of promise, but delivering on that promise. Latitude is the first 100% Climate Neutral diamond brand, and the first to achieve the highest level of Sustainability Rating.

Today, citizens of the world are opting to celebrate love, commitment, and connection through deeply personal, conscious purchasing decisions. At Latitude, we commit to being there for you, to help you mark your milestones (whatever they may be) with a brilliantly made diamond that stands for more. That stands up for more.

A new story about diamonds starts here — will you help us write the future?