Why the Gemological Institute of America is Growing Diamonds

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The Gemological Institute of America is known for multiple things, including diamond education and grading. You might know about GIA certification, but do you know that this institute grows diamonds too?

For the past five years, at a nondescript property in New Jersey, GIA’s scientists have been growing these with the CVD (chemical vapor deposition) method. In contrast to the standard diamond manufacturer, GIA does not have a big row of reactors: the institute grows diamonds individually in different qualities and sizes.

It also does not have a specified manufacturing budget. When GIA’s Senior Vice President Tom Moses was asked about the quantity it usually makes, he said he is unsure about this.

“The most we’ve done is maybe a couple of hundred carats a year,” Moses said.

That is because, unlike the majority of manufacturers, GIA does not wish to sell diamonds, but wants to study these.

“We are trying to have as deep an understanding as we can have of the growing process,” Moses said. “So we are finding out what happens, almost in real time.”

It is all, says Moses, in line with the institute’s mission, and that mission is “To make sure the public knows what it’s getting.”

GIA’s team in New Jersey primarily works on growing detection devices, which include the ones it markets, plus proprietary tools for in-house use. In these five years, GIA’s facility in New Jersey has turned into a big operation, which will continue to grow.

“We started more as a garage shop,” he said. “I don’t think we are that anymore. There are a lot of very capable people with good technical backgrounds who are helping with this.”

Dr. Jim Butler is one of those individuals, who can say that he has been growing these stones for thirty years. Today, he is one of the consultants for the Gemological Institute.

“GIA has done everything first-class,” says Dr. Jim Butler, noting that GIA has the strongest security measures of any laboratory he ever worked in, in addition to specialized diagnostic equipment for its reactor.

Butler said, “Very few factories will put any diagnostics on their reactor.”

GIA specifically wished the machine to be flexible, Butler said. GIA keeps fiddling with the “recipe”, plus it experiments with various flaws – all in a bid to learn all possible variations of diamond growing.

Ulrika D’Haenens-Johansson, the Senior Research Scientist at GIA, said that the institute wishes to “tailor the types of atomic impurities that can be found in synthetic diamonds so that we can intentionally create samples that can be challenging to identify, just to make sure that we have the right procedures in place.”

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