A real, mined diamond will always reign superior over lab grown diamonds and simulants. However,…
CVD Diamonds vs Natural: Diamond Machine Testing Aftermarket Diamonds on Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
Find out how we test diamonds to see if they are natural or CVD diamonds using our high tech diamond testing machine at Diamonds By Raymond Lee in Boca Raton…Product in question: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 41mm set with aftermarket diamonds.
Ever wonder if the diamond watch or jewelry you bought is in fact set with natural diamonds and not lab-grown diamonds?
Customers of aftermarket diamond watches can’t be sure if a diamond is natural or CVD (synthetic/lab grown) by simply looking at it. Not even jewelers will be able to tell the difference. Because of this, it’s common for jewelers to sell goods that have a mix of real and CVD diamonds.
At Diamonds by Raymond Lee, we recently had a customer who wanted to sell us his Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 41mm aftermarket diamond-covered watch…But little did he know, the diamonds were CVD.
So, how did we know the diamonds were CVD? That’s were technology comes into play.
Unlike most jewelers (like 99% of jewelers), we have an expensive machine, $7,000 to be exact, that tests diamonds to see if they are natural or man-made. So, that’s how we knew…We will get into how this works later on in this post, but for now, we will leave it at that.
Now, not to take away from this CVD diamond flooded timepiece, as the Royal Oak 41mm is a fantastic watch and the synthetic diamonds were undeniably set with great care. However, the value of the watch is definitely not the same because they are CVD diamonds. It’s as simple as that.
Nevertheless, we ended up buying the watch for what we both thought was a fair price. We don’t typically deal with CVD diamonds at Diamonds by Raymond Lee, but this was a special case as the watch was a new Royal Oak 41mm and the craftsmanship of the setting must have taken a lot of work.
Selling the CVD Diamond Covered Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 41mm
Shortly after buying the CVD diamond Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 41mm, we had another client come in who was interested in the watch. We fully disclosed that the Royal Oak was set with aftermarket lab grown diamonds, of course, and the price reflected that. Our customer decided to purchase it from us as the watch is truly stunning, dripping from top to bottom, and flawless in its condition. Plus, it was a good deal for such a classic watch that is the Royal Oak.
After reflecting on this business dealing – from buying to selling a luxury Swiss watch with CVD diamonds – we thought this would make for a good, educational post. Especially with all the debate surrounding synthetic diamonds these days…
So, today we want to share information on CVD diamonds, such as their value, price, and how to identify if a diamond is natural or lab grown. That way you can be an informed buyer that knows exactly what you have in your hands.
To start, let’s go over the basics…
What are CVD Diamonds?
Here is what CVD stands for in diamonds – Chemical Vapor Deposition (a type of crystal formation method). In a nutshell, this means that the diamonds were deposited from a gas onto a substrate and there were chemical reactions involved.
CVD diamond vs natural diamond
CVD diamonds resemble a natural diamond. And, they are created by mimicking the same geological processes that make natural diamonds. Of course, in an expeditious manner as natural diamonds form over millions of years, comparing to synthetic diamonds which take only 2 weeks.
The process of manufacturing CVD diamonds involves bringing methane gas into a vacuum chamber and breaking down the molecules of the same gas with microwaves; electromagnetic waves, not the microwave oven you heat up food with, although the science is the same; This causes the carbon atoms to gather on an isolated substrate. It’s like an extremely propelled version of the geological process that natural diamonds undergo.
So, CVD, in other words, is: man made, lab grown, artificial, cultivated, synthetic.
Are Synthetic Diamonds Real?
When looking at the fundamental properties of synthetic diamonds, they are the same as natural diamonds.
They have the same chemical properties: made from carbon with same diamonds viz., density, dispersion, refractive index, hardness and crystalline structure
They are not imitation or simulated gems. CVD diamonds are real and will last forever, just like a natural, earth-made diamond…
However, the value the industry places on CVD diamonds is entirely different.
Are synthetic diamonds cheaper?
The industry places much greater value on natural diamonds as they are formed deep in the earth’s crust over millions of years. If that’s not special, then what is? In this sense, natural diamonds are rare when comparing to lab grown diamonds which can be made at any time.
So, although they are essentially identical, the fact that they are made naturally by earth makes all the difference to the price. Lab grown diamonds typically sell for a fraction of the price.
What’s more, lab-grown diamonds are typically only valuable in other industries. This is because diamonds are very useful implements for high tech industries. So, as the lab grown diamonds have all the same properties as natural diamonds, there is absolutely no difference in their effect. In these industries, lab grown diamonds make more sense economically.
When it comes to the jewelry industry, though, lab grown diamonds don’t have much value at all. People value the natural aspect more than the look alone.
What is the difference between synthetic diamonds and real diamonds?
Now, you must be thinking, there must be some differences…
Again, the physical and chemical properties of natural and lab grown diamonds are the same. So, the biggest difference between the two is that real diamonds are formed naturally inside the earth millions of years ago and they are mined, while synthetic diamonds are created in a laboratory.
Of course, price is different too, but that’s determined by people, not the diamond itself.
Now, we would be remiss not to mention that there is an aspect that can be different when it comes to natural diamonds vs synthetic diamonds and that is clarity.
Because the process for creating synthetic diamonds is designed for minimal flaws, most synthetic diamonds are clearer. Natural diamonds often have internal flaws which occur during the formation stage. That’s not to say natural diamonds can’t be flawless, though.
Are lab diamonds as hard as natural diamonds?
CVD diamond hardness is the same as natural diamonds, as are all the other chemical properties.
How long have people been making CVD diamonds for?
Synthetic diamonds have been around for decades and has always been a hot topic among the diamond industry.
The biggest issue being, who is going to disclose the diamonds are synthetic, as without technology there is no way to tell.
This is a big reason why we are trying to play our part in educating the market. This post is one way we hope to inform our customers who may shop at other jewelry stores.
How to identify CVD Diamonds?
So, can you tell the difference between synthetic diamonds and real diamonds?
To the naked eye, CVD diamonds and natural diamonds look exactly the same. Even expert gemologist won’t be able to tell the difference by examining it with their eyes.
Most Jewelers can’t even tell a natural diamond from a synthetic diamond, let along the customer!
It’s our understanding that a lot of synthetic diamonds are floating around the market disguised as natural diamonds. Sometimes this is done intentionally by manufacturers and jewelers as the cost to produce is substantially less for lab grown diamonds vs natural diamonds that formed over millions of years in the earth. This means more profits. Other times, even the jeweler may not know they are working with lab created diamonds.
Because of this, there are only two ways to be sure whether the diamonds in question are natural or man made.
- Certificate. It’s always best to purchase a diamond that has a graded certificate from a recognized gemological institute. This is a guaranteed way to ensure you have a natural diamond. GIA, which is the most reputable gemological institute, grades both natural and synthetic diamonds. The grading reports and system will be different for synthetic diamonds. Nonetheless, by looking at the GIA certificate, you will immediately know if it is natural or synthetic as it will be clearly stated on the diamond’s certificate.
- CVD Diamonds Tester Machine. This is a machine that uses a combination of short-wave and long-wave ultraviolet radiation. Because CVD diamonds are type II, they contain trace elements of Boron. Boron inert acts with UV in a particular pattern. In essence, natural diamonds will fluoresce in a different way than diamonds made using CVD. So, by placing the diamond in these special high tech machines, like the one we have, you can easily tell if the diamond is natural or synthetic.
Diamonds by Raymond Lee & Raymond Lee Jewelers CVD Diamond Testing Machine.
At both of our retail locations in Boca Raton, we have a synthetic diamond testing machine.
As the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 41mm diamond watch featured here didn’t have a GIA certificate for its aftermarket diamonds, we used our machine and the results came back that all the diamonds were CVD diamonds.
We buy diamond watches and jewelry, so we check every piece that we buy!
Because the market is full of jewelry retailers who opt to sell synthetic diamonds instead of natural diamonds to save cost and make more profit, we are extra careful when buying pre-owned diamond jewelry and watches from people who come into our jewelry store.
We are very stringent about this, so we check every piece using our diamond testing machine.
Our diamond testers and CVD testers deliver the highest accuracy and most reliable results. We spent top dollar for these machines to make sure we have the very best. The integrity of our company and every product we sell is of the utmost importance to us.
So, if you are dealing with a jewelry store who doesn’t have one of these and they don’t have a GIA certificate, be wary. We highly recommend that you take this seriously. Because if you ever want to turn around and sell it, you may be in for a surprise.
This is what happened to our client who sold us the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 41mm. If it hadn’t been for the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak being the coveted model that it is, we wouldn’t have purchased it from him.
All in all, we appreciate this flooded Audemars Piguet Royal Oak for the fact that we know a ton of work went into setting these CVD diamonds. It was done very well and that’s definitely worth something too. We were right in thinking someone would want this watch as it ended up reselling pretty quickly.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 41mm with Aftermarket CVD Diamonds
The Royal Oak is one of Audemars Piguet’s most iconic models. It was first released in 1972.
Over the years, the Royal Oak has seen some subtle changes but the original Gerald Genta design remains true. It has a steel case, octagonal bezel, tapisserie dial, and an integrated bracelet, all polished and finished to absolute perfection. This is easily one of the most understated yet ultra-luxurious sports watches in history.
This specific model is the Royal Oak 41mm ref. 15500ST.OO.1220ST.03 (stainless steel/black dial). It is still in production as it is a newer model in the Royal Oak line. It introduces a few new subtle details. Such as the wider indexes, a minute train printed on the external area, a date window moved further from the center, and its case size of 41mm.
This is easily one of our favorite watches in the game. And, it looks exquisite dripping in diamonds. CVD or not.
The CVD diamonds were set into this Royal Oak with meticulous effort. The diamonds cover the entire bracelet & clasp, case, and bezel. You know it’s done well and with deliberate expertise when you see the diamonds on the edges of the case, bracelet, and bezel. It’s obvious to us that a skilled jeweler had set these diamonds, regardless of him knowing they were CVD or not. Again, most jewelers don’t have a diamond testing machine to be sure. In any case, we can’t be sure of their intentions, but what we can be sure of is that the watch was crafted beautifully.
If you have any questions about CVD diamonds or you have a diamond watch or diamond jewelry that you want to test, feel free to give us a call, contact us, or come into one of our retail locations to have your diamonds tested using our machine.
If you live in Boca Raton, please feel free to drop by our showroom anytime! We have an extensive collection of luxury Swiss watches for you to check out.