NOTE: This article is not to educate you about “above ground” diamonds, nor it is to present pros and cons on the subject. This is a complex subject with too many unknowns to formulate an opinion or position. The intent here is to inform our clients that synthetic, lab or factory produced diamonds do exist and you may hear more about them in the future.
Synthetic, lab or factory grown diamonds ( the terms will be used interchangeably) are nothing new. What is new is the advancement in technology and renewed interest by the jewelry industry. The first synthetic diamond was created back in the 1950’s by General Electric. The problem then was that it was cost prohibitive to produce gem quality but they were produced for industrial purposes. With today’s technology, synthetic diamonds conform to the stringent jewelry industry demands and have a lower cost and much shorter production time. So much so that the production areas for these stones really are factories, not labs. This has sparked tremendous interest by the lab-grown diamond manufactures around the world to offer consumers an alternative to mined diamonds. To better understand synthetic diamonds or lab-grown diamonds it is important to define them. In order to label a diamond as “synthetic”, “lab-grown”, or “lab-created” it must have the same optical, physical, and chemical properties as naturally mined diamonds, unlike diamond simulants such as Cubic Zirconia and Moissanite. The other consideration is the globalization of the diamond industry. DeBeers is now offering their Lightbox brand which is jewelry made with all lab grown diamonds at a very low, price per carat. Whatever happens in America affects the rest of the world and vice versa. Today there are many points of view on how synthetic diamonds will impact the jewelry industry. One thing is for sure, everyone involved including manufactures, miners, industry leaders and governments want to protect consumers around the world.
So, what is the big deal? The renewed interest of lab-grown diamonds by the jewelry industry poses many interesting challenges for the industry and consumers. We’ll highlight a few. In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is responsible for defining products’ legal standards to protect the U.S. consumers. When it comes to diamonds, the question is how to best distinguish a natural diamond from a synthetic diamond when both have exactly the same optical, physical, and chemical properties. In this case they are both diamonds, but they come from two different places; one from below ground from natural occurrences and the other from above ground by various man created processes. Manufacturers and the industry do agree that a distinction must be made to help consumers. Another concern is that manufacturers and sellers of synthetic diamonds may tell consumers that synthetic diamonds are conflict-free, environmentally friendly, or other benefits to pique their interest. Although it is clear that a lab-grown diamond would be conflict free, the story is skewed by virtue of the extremely high amount of energy it takes to grow diamonds above ground. Miners would make other compelling arguments to make their case like they provide thousands of jobs to people in remote areas of the world. Another area of concern for the industry is the identification of synthetic diamonds. Many professionals in the industry have limited or no access to the advanced equipment needed to properly identify lab-grown diamonds. Currently, the availability of lab equipment designed to identify lab-grown diamonds is not only limited but cost prohibitive for the majority of small companies in the business. This concern is real and the industry is addressing it. Lastly, the consumers: Will consumers embrace the idea of buying synthetic diamond vs. a natural diamond? Will they care whether it comes from a lab or the ground? Or, will the focus be on appearance, cost, or the charming stories told by the retailer? These questions will not be easily answered today or in the near future. Consumers will have a lot to think about and more options.
The popularity of synthetic diamond is unclear, but one thing is certain it is here to stay and you’ll hear more about it in the future. So, stay tuned.
Yantz Bradbury Associates
P.O. Box 10123
Rockville, Maryland 20850
Office: (301) 335-6687
Serving MD, VA and DC Metro Area