Buyer Beware...Lab Grown Diamonds vs. Mined Diamonds

Posted on 04 January 2018

If you're shopping for diamond make sure you ask if it's a lab-grown diamond.  Yes, a lab grown diamond is not a synthetic, it has the exact carbon structure as diamonds that are mined.  Lab grown diamonds are  indistinguishable from natural diamonds to the naked eye. 

 Some say the development of lab-grown diamonds,that are exactly the same as mined diamonds, is causing an upheaval in the jewelry industry and others say it's ecologically progressive.  

Whatever the opinion is, lab-grown diamonds are being produced world wide and is not a futuristic idea.  Produced as colorless in large to very small sizes by several small private companies as well as larger dealers like DeBeers and the Swarovski Group.

The process starts by placing a small sliver of a mined diamond (as a seed)  and put into a machine will produce a larger diamond with the use of gases under high temperatures that will add carbon molecules to cause the seed diamond to increase in size. 

One of the first diamonds made for commercial sales was introduced in 2015 by a Russian diamond lab that produced a10 carat diamond.  

The cost difference of lab-grown diamonds are currently 20%-30% less than mined diamonds.  This discounted amount will make it possible for more people to wear diamonds comprable to the history of when cultured pearls became available in the early twentieth century and more women could afford to wear pearls. 

However, in my opinion, as more lab-grown diamonds are produced world-wide, the economics of 'supply and demand' will affect the overall pricing.

One thing I do know, as a Biologist, is that the term 'cultivated diamond' is used incorrectly to represent lab-grown diamonds because they are not growing a living thing. For example, a cultured pearl is produced from oysters that are raised in 'farm' like conditions; it is living.

Diamonds do not grow; the molecular structure is expanding with additions of carbon molecules due to the properties of carbon in certain conditions that a lab is providing.   

Make sure that you are aware of what you are purchasing, no matter what the carat size, and you have the certificates to your new jewel.  Lab grown diamonds should sold with certificates.

An expensive device developed by DeBeers for diamond dealers is an instrument which uses ultraviolet light to detect the difference between natural and lab-grown diamonds.  Lab-grown diamonds will show a strong phosphorescent glow that is not common to natural diamonds.

Russel Shor, from the Gemological Institute for America believes that the desire for mined diamonds will remain because "it comes from deep from Mother Earth...they are billions of years old,  probably, the oldest thing we can buy."

You should know the nomenclature....The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) identifying stones that laboratories had produced using chemical vapor deposition (CVD) or High Pressure-High Temperature (HPHT).

Here are some facts and links to information about the pros and cons of lab-grown diamonds vs. mined diamonds. 

Janet Deleuse 

                               UPDATED NEWS 

 

What are Synthetic Diamonds?  Gemological Institute Report, 1/5/2018     read

 

DIAMONDS / TECHNOLOGY
Synthetic Diamond Bears Fake Inscription Matching Natural Report
November 13, 2017 by ROB BATES

In an episode that has frightening implications for an industry trying to keep its diamonds distinguished, a synthetic round diamond was recently submitted to GIA’s gem lab with a phony inscription meant to identify it as natural.

According to a GIA Lab Note, its Carlsbad, Calif., laboratory recently took in a 1.76 ct. F VS1 excellent cut round. It bore an inscription (pictured) for a GIA report issued in 2015, which was meant for a 1.74 ct. D VVS1 natural untreated stone.

GIA’s screening process, however, determined that the stone needed additional testing. Further research showed the stone was grown by HPHT.

“Rarely do we encounter the type of blatant fraud described here,” said note authors Christopher M. Breeding and Troy Ardon, adding, “We believe the submitting client noticed inconsistencies with the GIA report information and sent it to the lab for an updated report.”

This is not the first time the trade has seen this kind of episode. In 2016, man-made diamonds sold with natural reports—advertised as such—were discovered on Asian website Alibaba.

  

Photo courtesy of GIA, credit: Tony Ardon  Link to article

 

 

Lab-Grown Diamonds Become a Bandwagon
November 16, 2017 by ROB BATES

"Yes, many in the industry remain wary of lab-grown diamonds, and events like this week’s report of a fake GIA inscription certainly don’t help matters. But at the same time, we are swamped with announcements of new companies entering the business.

Lab-grown certainly seems to have become a bandwagon that many in the industry are merrily climbing on board. (Just today we got word of a new created diamond company, Love Earth Jewelry, headed by former Gregg Ruth CEO Daniel Schreiber.)

There’s even an attempt to form a virtual lab-grown diamond bourse, called the Lab Grown Diamond Network. Principals include Diamond Foundry veteran Alon Ben-Shoshan, as well as mined diamond companies that “have chosen not to publicly list their names.”

“I probably see a new lab-grown diamond offer/pitch/ad once a month, from someplace in the world,” says Tom Chatham, one of the pioneers of the created market. But he feels he’s seen this movie before: “In the 1990s we had many companies claiming to produce emeralds…and some did, but they failed at the marketing end. Many of these newcomers are just resellers and will fall by the wayside.”
entire article...

 

QUOTE FROM CNBC NEWS

"The Diamond Foundry was created by Martin Roscheisen, founder of solar power company Nanosolar. After that company folded in 2013, Roscheisen gathered the same team to come up with a proprietary discovery that can grow diamonds more efficiently than existing technologies.
Not murky, synthetic diamonds, but clear, white gems that are atomically identical to diamonds mined from the earth.
The Diamond Foundry starts with a sliver of an earth-mined diamond. That seed diamond is then heated to temperatures as hot as the outer layer of the sun. Layers of identical crystal atoms stack on top of the diamond, and it can grow up to nine carats in two weeks of uninterrupted time in the reactor." continue reading
 

 QUOTE FROM THE DIAMOND FOUNDRY

 "Impeccable provenance
Our diamonds are cultivated in San Francisco.
Our foundry re-creates the environment in which nature forms diamond on its own. Earth forms diamonds within hours actually; our process cultivates them over months.
Our production is boutique relative to the industrial scale of mining.
While diamonds usually go through dozens of owners, traders and dealers, ours is direct from us.
We also cut the carbon footprint – for a diamond as rock-solid as your values."

QUOTE FROM RAPAPORT DIAMOND EXPERT

"SELLING A PRODUCT WITH CONTINUOUSLY FALLING PRICES
Synthetic diamonds are man-made, which means man can make unlimited amounts of them. It is important to note that synthetic diamond technology is driven by U.S., Chinese and other government defense departments seeking to create strategic military innovations.

Martin Roscheisen, CEO of Diamond Foundry, the company supported by Leonardo DiCaprio, has reportedly raised $100 million to invest in synthetic diamonds. He claims that his “company can create pure diamond material at about 150 times the rate at which the industry now produces it.”

With Alibaba’s infinite competitive lower cost supply proposition and Moore’s law of exponential technological growth, it is likely that synthetic diamond prices will fall by at least 50 percent every 18 to 24 months. Prices for less expensive synthetics will likely plummet faster as they are much easier to create and compete with. Given the unlimited supply scenario, I see no reason why synthetic diamonds should not settle down to price levels slightly higher than cubic zirconia or very fine-cut Swarovski crystals.

Synthetic sellers make a big point about disclosing that their synthetic diamond is exactly the same as a natural diamond. That is not true. Natural diamonds have natural scarcity, which enables them to be a store of value. Synthetic diamonds have no scarcity and are not a store of value.

Consumers think they are buying a diamond with all of its attributes. They do not realize that they are buying something that does not hold value.

The fact that sellers try to sell synthetics at a discount to natural prices, instead of on a cost-plus basis, enforces the lie that synthetic diamond values are just like diamond values — only cheaper. If Millennial consumers are tricked into replacing natural diamonds with synthetic diamonds that do not hold value, they may be turned off to all diamonds forever when they find out the resale value of their synthetics." continue reading

 FROM ONLINE JCK MAGAZINE

The Barneys release of designer jewelry using lab created diamonds calls the stones cultivated.  The term cultivated has not been approved for use by the Federal Trade Commission. 
Diamond Foundry said in response, “Our diamonds being man-made is the whole point of our marketing, which we are very clear about. This is consistent with FTC principles of making sure that consumers get what they think they get.”
The president of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee Cecilia Gardner confirmed that using the term 'cultivated' in regard to lab-grown is not complying with the FTC guidelines.

QUOTE FROM ONLINE RACKED MAGAZINE

"Hedda Schupak, a market analyst and editor of the Centurion Newsletter, is skeptical that lab-grown companies are actually as sustainable as they claim to be. While Diamond Foundry boasts that its machines are powered through hydropower and solar power, others don't disclose the details of their production. This is a concern publications like JCK have raised before.

Two years ago, Jewelers Vigilance Committee president and CEO Cecilia Gardner told JCK that lab-grown companies using the term "eco-friendly" might be in violation of FTC standards because there's no proof that these factories (minus Diamond Foundry, which has let reporters from publications like Quartz see its operation to prove its machines are solar-powered) are green at all. And as JCK editor Rob Bates notes, lab-grown diamonds aren't replacing mined ones — they're just being created in addition to them.

"Unless they claim to be using solar or wind power, they are not carbon-neutral," Schupak says. "And it takes a lot of energy to do what needs to be done to make a diamond."

So far, little research has been done on what actually goes on in these labs. According to one report in the Stanford University alumni magazine that uses Canada's Ekati mine as an example, "replacing this one mine's annual diamond production with synthetic diamonds created in a lab could save the equivalent of about 483 million miles' worth of auto emissions." But University of Vermont professor Saleem Ali writes in his report "Ecological Comparison of Synthetic versus Mined Diamonds" that "this data may be misleading because we do not have any accurate metrics of the raw material used to make the synthetic diamonds" since lab procedures are labeled proprietary and are not shared with the public. The industry's lack of disclosure leaves people like Michelle Graff, who covers the industry for the trade site National Jeweler, dubious.

"There's a certain irony in the lab-grown biz. They keep trading on how it's so ethical, and cleaner, but then what are they all hiding?" she asks. "The mined industry is constantly under scrutiny to share and disclose, why shouldn't they do the same?"

It goes without saying that lab-growing will only become more sophisticated and cheaper in the coming years, and that accountability will have to follow. But what happens when synthetic diamonds flood the market? Will natural diamonds still retain their value? The unsatisfying answer is: nobody knows." continue from Racked

QUOTE FROM VOGUE

"Synthetic, or cultured, diamonds are not new. They have been manufactured for decades, first developed for General Electric in 1954 for industrial purposes and by the 1990s reaching gem-grade status among select producers. Their rising cachet has a simple explanation: provenance. The supply chain in the diamond industry has long been associated with conflict and environmental damage, largely brought into the public consciousness by the 2006 film Blood Diamond. The Kimberley Process, which set requirements for certifying diamonds “conflict-free,” went into effect in 2003, but in a world of increasingly judicious consumers, the untraceable status of so many of the world’s diamonds remains troublesome.

So it was news last year when  Leonardo DiCaprio (along with ten billionaires) invested in Bay Area start-up Diamond Foundry, which had developed a technique for producing brilliantly clear, colorless, gem-quality stones. 


Here is how it works: Diamond Foundry starts with a rough, earth-extracted Canadian diamond and takes a wafer-size slice of it—about 7 mm by 7 mm. This is placed in a hydrogen plasma reactor that mimics the conditions on the outer core of the sun (“We’ve created the sun on Earth!” says Roscheisen, who is boisterous, sharp, confident, and prone to the occasional evocation of Silicon Valley demigod culture). Add gases like carbon dioxide and methane inside the reactor, and atom by atom a crystal lattice is built. To see a cut-and-polished cultured diamond is to see, well, a diamond: It sparkles brilliantly, it refracts light, it is colorless and clear.

The process takes two weeks, Roscheisen explains as we make our way into the cavernous production room humming with white reactor machines. Since the slightest glitch can affect an entire batch, the reactors are monitored constantly. “People are eating eggs Benedict at brunch right now and checking on them from their iPhones,” he assures me.

Are synthetics the same as natural diamonds? According to the Gemological Institute of America, a lab-grown diamond is materially a diamond and can be evaluated using nearly the same standards of cut, clarity, carat, color, and other technical markers.

And yet is there a world in which, if I were getting engaged again, I’d want my walk by the Venice Canals to end with a diamond sourced just six hours north of where I live? Maybe. Cultured diamonds are beautiful, with an unbeatable provenance—but I’ll admit that the fact that improved efficiencies in the way they’re grown might eventually make them less expensive gives me pause." Continue Reading

For more information or answers to your questions contact Jeff Deleuse, Graduate Gemologist and Certified Appraiser    415-459-3739

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1 comment

  • Loney Grinker : November 16, 2016

    Natural is real

    A real woman
    Deserves a real diamond

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