Diamonds are a crystalline form ("allotrope") of the element Carbon, albeit sometimes with impurities due to the presence of other elements such as Nitrogen or Boron (these impurities often result in diamond colors.
The first diamonds that humans encountered, were natural diamonds formed deep within the Earth (in the mantle) by high pressures and temperatures. These were brought to the surface (or at least closer to the surface so they could be mined) by volcanic processes.
The discovery that diamonds were basically pure Carbon was first made in 1797. As a result, many attempts were made to synthesize diamonds from cheaper forms of carbon. The most noteworthy of these early attempts to synthesize diamond were a series of experiments by Ferdinand Frédéric Henri Moissan in the 1890s, in which Mossian used the then newly developed electric arc furnace. Although Moissan reported success, other scientists were mostly unable to repeat his experiments, and in 1928, Sir Charles Algernon Parsons, who had spent 40 years trying to replicate the experiments (and meticuously recording every detail of his attempted replications), expressed his view in article by C. H. Desch, that no diamonds had been produced at all using this method.
Today, natural diamonds still dominate the market, especially in the case of gemstones, but it is also possible to create diamonds artificially, that is "synthetic diamonds", or "artificial diamonds&qupt;. Please note: that synthetic or artificial diamonds should not be confused with simulant diamonds - they are completely different:
Regardless of what we call them, currently there are two main methods for producing synthetic diamonds:
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