How to Make Gem Quality Synthetic Diamonds

by Linda Johnson

Gem quality synthetic diamonds, known as cubic zirconia, are easier to make than the diamonds formed in the center of the earth from carbon over millions of years. Still, unless you are a chemist with a laboratory and a formula, you probably won't be making your own synthetic diamonds. Diamonds are made with high pressure and extremely high temperatures, conditions which are hard and unsafe to duplicate. Although crude diamond crystals have been made at home with microwaves, or charcoal and outdoor grills, they are not gem quality. The good news is that synthetic diamonds,or "CZ's," are available in beautiful jewelry, at a fraction of the cost of natural diamonds.

Items you will need

  • Laboratory
  • Skull crucible
  • Zirconium dioxide
  • Yttrium or calcium
  • Chemical formula (ZrO2 + Ca or Yt as a stabilizer)
  • Minerals as desired for color
Step 1

Place a mixture of powdered zirconium oxide with calcium or yttrium added as a stabilizer into the skull crucible (basically, a special microwave with a "skull" to keep the outside cool, despite the heat inside.)

Step 2

Add appropriate minerals as desired to produce colored cubic zirconia. For green, add chromium. For pink, add erbrium. Cerium will make the crystals orange, red or yellow. For blue, add erbium and neodymium. That rich golden brown comes from adding titanium. For the CZ to remain colorless, skip this step.

Step 3

Turn the heat up to 2,700°C until the interior melts.

Step 4

Switch off the heat, and let the melted mixture cool. The perfectly controlled environment will allow the crystals to form.

Step 5

Remove the cubic zirconia crystals when formed in the cubic system. (The timing will depend on the size of the crucible, and the amount of zirconium oxide.)

Step 6

Cut and facet the crystals into finished gemstones. If there are any imperfections or any cloudiness (as a result of a flaw in the controlled environment), throw the crystals out and grow new ones. Use a film of carbon to add luster.

Tips

  • Synthetic diamonds, or cubic zirconia, are now available in many spectacular colors, as well as the colorless diamond facsimile.

Warnings

  • Homemade synthetic diamonds require dangerous conditions and extremely high temperatures, and they are not gem quality.

Photo Credits

  • Public domain

About the Author

Linda Johnson is a veteran writer and Photoshop and Illustrator aficionado. She is a TV-radio producer, ad agency owner and a winner of Addy Awards and the First Place Award for Best National Public Service Film. In addition to Johnson's online work, her writing has appeared in "Poetry Guide," the "Indianapolis Star" and Indianapolis Dine magazine.