If you watched Blood Diamond you would know the ethical issues surrounding the conflict diamonds; the odds are that one in every four diamonds are mined in a war zone and are used to finance civil war. Those who have tried to avoid buying blood diamonds will know it’s close to impossible spot the difference between dirty and clean diamonds. Having this knowledge, it could put a damper on using a diamond ring to pop the Question.
This has sparked an increase in the market for lab-made diamonds. Offering a less expensive, ethically sound and ecologically friendly alternative that looks as attractive as its natural counterpart. These artificially made diamonds are nothing like the lab-grown synthetic diamonds (cubic zirconia). The artificially created diamonds consisting of the same chemical composition and physical structure as naturally formed diamonds that have been mined.
“Diamonds are girl’s best friend”
Science has come to the rescue again!
In a lab, they create the diamonds by placing a tiny fragment of carbon seed (diamonds) in a microwave along with different amounts of a carbon-heavy gas – methane. The gas mixture is then heated to extreme temperatures in the microwave to create a plasma ball. Within the plasma, ball gas breaks down, and carbon atoms crystallize and gather around the diamond seed, making it grow.
The whole process from start to finish takes ten weeks. The result is so remarkable that even the best of the gemmologist finds it hard to distinguish between mined diamonds and diamonds created inside a microwave.
So far, synthetic diamonds make up only 1% of the global diamond market; reports suggest however that more people are choosing lab made diamonds over the blood diamonds. According to Paul Zimnisky, an estimated 142.3 million carats worth $15.6B was mined in 2017 as opposed to 360,000 carats of lab-grown diamonds.
Bloomberg reported the findings of a recent survey that showed 65% of buyers aged between 18 -35 preferred synthetic diamonds as opposed to naturally mined diamonds. The analyst has estimated that by 2026 the production of synthetic diamonds will skyrocket to 20 million carats. Warren Buffett’s Helzberg Diamonds and Wal-Mart have already begun to stock the synthetic versions.
This has not sat so well with the mining companies who took the labs creating synthetic diamonds to court. The mining companies had a significant victory against the labs when International Organisation for Standardisation ruled that all lab created gems had to be referred to “synthetic,” “lab-grown,” or “lab-created,” and never “real.”
The companies selling natural diamonds are hoping their customers will keep believing in the ‘romance’ of a stone borne from nature and will pay extra attention in marketing the unique history of each diamond over the ‘cookie-cutter’ feel of the lab-grown diamonds. Unfortunately for them, the price difference between the diamonds will play a big role as synthetic diamonds are half the price of natural diamonds, and there are no ethical questions connected to lab-grown diamonds. Regardless of what they do the demand for synthetic diamonds will defiantly be there in some capacity in the future
Vishal Mehta, CEO of IIA Technologies in Singapore, which is reportedly the most prolific producer of synthetic diamonds in the world. Mehta’s family have been in the jewelry industry for four generations. In an interview with Bloomberg, he said, “We are creating a new industry, Consumers today resonates with the idea of eco-friendly and conflict-free choices for diamonds.”
What would you choose?
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