The production and commercialization of lab-grown diamonds has grown exponentially over the past decade as consumers have taken on the responsibility to become more educated about the industry and its controversial implications. While the idea of growing a diamond in a lab is relatively new for most people, its origins trace back to the late 1800s.
Henri Moissan, a French chemist whose studies focused mostly on isolating fluorine from its compounds, is credited with the first production of a synthesized diamond in 1893. Using charcoal, Moissan heated this form of carbon with iron in a furnace which caused the iron to melt, and thereafter let it cool rapidly to generate high pressure in order to transform the charcoal into diamonds.
Following this discovery, his experiment was recreated by others and they were also able to successfully produce very small diamonds. After years of perfecting the process with this method, the commercially successful production of synthetic diamonds was finally achieved in the 1950s. This incredible scientific discovery is how lab-grown diamonds eventually came to be, changing the diamond industry forever.
Moissan is also accredited with discovering a mineral made of silicon carbide within fragments of a meteorite, which was later named ‘moissanite’ (named after him) and is commonly used as an alternative to diamonds. Because moissanite is very rare and only found in a few places on Earth (such as tops of volcanoes), most moissanite on the market is also lab-grown.