He drops down onto one knee and opens that small, red velvet jewelry box. Your heart quickens, because you can already anticipate what’s inside. You might imagine that diamond was mined from deep, deep underground, and its natural beauty will complement your finger exquisitely. You might imagine how long that diamond sat below the earth’s surface, waiting for you, and how romantic the whole thing is. Then, he tells you that some scientist just made your diamond in a lab. But don’t worry: it’s totally cool, and he got it at a discount.
Scientists have found ways to produce diamonds in labs that are virtually the same as naturally mined diamonds. Although the differences between them can be revealed microscopically and through ultraviolet light tests, even professionals cannot tell them apart without these tools. In fact, lab-produced diamonds can potentially be more pure than mined diamonds and are more affordable.
Synthetic diamonds are cultured by using naturally mined diamond fragments or other synthetic diamonds as seeds around which a larger gem can be grown. Carbon gas at very high temperatures is used to grow new crystals over a couple of weeks. Other companies use intense heat combined with incredibly high pressures to mimic what happens below ground over long periods of time.
Market experts fear that these man made diamonds, which are indistinguishable to the naked eye, could disrupt the naturally mined diamond industry in the same manner that lab cultured pearls did. Cultured pearls are grown by inserting a small bead into a mollusk. The cultured pearls account for 95% of the pearl global market, thereby destroying the natural pearl industry. Market experts fear the same devastation will occur for natural mined diamonds.
These lab-cultured diamonds are marketed about 15% below the natural diamond rate and are growing in retailer traction. In addition to its increased affordability, lab-cultured diamonds are also receiving endorsements from humanitarians with ethical and environmental concerns over the way natural diamonds are mined. For more information on that, you can watch Leonardo DiCaprio in his 2006 Oscar nominated film, “Blood Diamond.” Empire’s Terrence Howard is also a big advocate of man-made diamonds because of ethical concerns.
However, distributers of mined diamonds are hopeful that the sentimentality and long standing tradition of natural diamonds will prevail. Diamond distributors believe that people have deep rooted ties to diamonds that stem from how they have been produced for billions of years. They’re angling for consumers to realize that a diamond is valuable not only for its clarity and sparkle, but also because it symbolizes tradition and a link to billions of years of history.
So, he’s still on the floor on one knee holding that delicate box of lab produced technology. Do you say yes?