A novel method for fabricating diamond shells is introduced. The fabrication of such shells is a multi-step process, which involves diamond chemical vapor deposition on predetermined mandrels followed by polishing, microfabrication of holes, and removal of the mandrel by an etch process. The resultant shells of the present invention can be configured with a surface roughness at the nanometer level (e.g., on the order of down to about 10 nm RMS) on a mm length scale, and exhibit excellent hardness/strength, and good transparency in the both the infra-red and visible. Specifically, a novel process is disclosed herein, which allows coating of spherical substrates with optical-quality diamond films or nanocrystalline diamond films.
 The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of Calif. for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.