Buyer Beware...Lab Grown Diamonds vs. Mined Diamonds, Ongoing, Updated Information
Posted on 15 May 2019
If you're shopping for diamond make sure you ask if it's a lab-grown diamond. Yes, a lab grown diamond has the exact carbon structure as diamonds that are mined. Lab grown diamonds are indistinguishable from natural diamonds without testing equipment.
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.
Some say the development of lab-grown diamonds are exactly the same as mined diamonds. This statment is causing an upheaval in the jewelry industry.
Lab grown diamonds are promoted as ecologically progressive, however this has not been documented or proven. My concern is the lack of disclosures about what the waste byproducts are comprised of and the disposal procedures. We should be asking questions; how is this affecting our environment? Without this information how can lab grown diamonds be marketed as "environmentally safe" ?
Lab grown diamonds are being produced world wide; 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 (currently and expected to drop) than mined diamonds. This discounted amount will make it possible for more people to wear diamonds comparable to the history of culturing pearls in the early twentieth century enabling more affordable pearls.
However, in my opinion, as more lab grown diamonds are produced worldwide, the economics of 'supply and demand' will affect the overall pricing..as did the cultured pearl affected the industry years ago.
The term 'cultivated diamond' is used incorrectly to represent lab grown diamonds. For example, a cultured pearl is produced from oysters that are raised in 'farm' like conditions.
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 a certificate. Lab grown diamonds should be sold with certificates.
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 ongoing discussion facts and links to information about the pros and cons of lab grown diamonds vs. mined diamonds.
On June 6, San Francisco gem grower Diamond Foundry inked a deal with a Washington state public utility that will enable its “megacarat” production facility to operate at full capacity by March 2020.
The agreement with the Chelan County Public Utility District (PUD) calls for the construction of a new energy substation that will meet the Wenatchee, Wash., facility’s power needs.
Located in a former fruit warehouse, the facility is expected to grow as many as 1 million carats a year at full capacity. The company also plans to keep growing diamonds in San Francisco.
A joint statement provided a rare glimpse at the amount of power that’s needed to grow diamonds in a lab. The factory will require up to 19 megawatts of power—about what’s used to power an estimated 14,250 to 19,000 American homes, according to California’s department of energy, or, by another calculation, about 11,000 homes in the Pacific Northwest.
The factory’s energy mix will be 98.46% hydropower, with less than 2% of energy from other sources, says Kimberlee Craig, PUD spokesperson.
Transitioning to mostly hydropower will help the company maintain a zero-carbon footprint, the statement said.
As far as other possible ecological impact, the company declined to estimate the factory’s anticipated water usage. “We do not have that information,” says director of public relations and communications Ye-Hui Goldenson.
The PUD lacked the capacity to meet Diamond Foundry’s power needs at its location, requiring the construction of the substation. While that typically takes 18 months, this project is slated to be completed in less than a year because of the factory’s anticipated economic benefit to the local community: It’s expected to bring between 35 and 50 jobs to the area.
“We are a customer-owned utility,” explains Craig. “We are following the direction of our customer-owners, who want us to use our resources to help support the economy.”
When it publicly debuted in 2015, Diamond Foundry announced it had raised $100 million from a range of investors, including actor Leonardo DiCaprio, a group of Silicon Valley billionaires, and firms such as Obvious Ventures. more
Three of the letters were sent to companies that exclusively sell lab-grown diamonds—Ada Diamonds, Diamond Foundry, and Pure Grown Diamonds—and the other five were sent to companies that sell diamond simulants—Agape Diamonds, Diamond Nexus, MiaDonna & Co., Stauer, and Timepieces International. Some of the simulant sellers, including MiaDonna and Stauer, also sell lab-grown diamonds.
The letters to the three lab-grown diamond companies advised that sellers of man-made gems should clearly and conspicuously disclose their stones’ origin. The Diamond Foundry and Pure Grown letters cautioned against using non-FTC-recommended terminology, such as “real diamonds created in California” and “above Earth diamonds.”
Kohm acknowledged in the letters that the companies all had portions of their websites that disclosed that their diamonds did not come from a mine. But “consumers could easily overlook” that, he said. Two of the letters also suggested that solely including a #labgrown hashtag may not be considered sufficient disclosure in a social media post.
The FTC also cautioned the companies not to make “unqualified general environmental benefit claims”—such as using terms like environmentally friendly and sustainable—”because it is highly unlikely that they can substantiate all reasonable interpretations of these claims.”
While there are differences of opinion on the environmental impact of man-made versus mined diamonds, the FTC does not seem to be endorsing any side of that argument. It is simply cautioning companies against using those terms and making those broad overarching claims.
Ada Diamonds said it had settled the matter. Diamond Foundry did not return a request for comment says it “prides itself” on being a lab diamond producer that “has worked collaboratively with the FTC for years.” Pure Grown Diamonds declined comment.
The letters to the five simulant sellers said that retailers of those stones should “avoid describing their products in a way that may falsely imply that they have the same optical, physical, and chemical properties of mined diamonds.” (Simulants are look-alikes, such as cubic zirconia, which do not have the same chemical makeup as diamonds, whether natural or lab-grown.)
The letters mentioned Agape’s use of its diamondslabcreated.com as its web address; Diamond Nexus’ use of contemporary Nexus Diamond; Stauer’s use of lab-created DiamondAura; and Timepieces International’s use of diamondeau.
As with the lab-grown companies, Kohm’s letter acknowledged that the companies’ sites have sections that identify the products as simulants. But he again noted that consumers might overlook them.
The letters to the simulant companies, except for Timepieces, also cited their environmental benefit claims.
Stauer president Michael Bisceglia says his company is in the process of changing its site.
“We think the FTC comments were helpful and more than fair,” he says. “We sell mined diamonds, lab diamonds, and diamond simulants, and it was helpful to have that additional clarity.”
MiaDonna chief executive officer Anna-Mieke Anderson tells JCK via email that her company has “spoken to the FTC directly in response and they are satisfied with the verbiage adjustments and additions we will be making to language describing the technology options we offer—especially in regard to the Diamond Hybrid simulant we offer. Our lab-grown diamonds and gemstones do not fall into this same category, but I welcome anything we can do to improve and evolve as an industry while helping to educate the consumer.”
Brittany Bozmoski, chief marketing officer of Forever Companies, parent company of Diamond Nexus Labs, emails: “Forever Companies is an open book with our customers, as well as the FTC, and are happy to benefit from the feedback of both. We’re delighted with every opportunity to educate consumers and regulators about how our products compare to mined diamonds in look, durability, cost, chemistry, and environmental impact. ” more
From the JCK, December 10, 2018 By Rob Bates
"Production of lab-grown diamonds has risen dramatically and will continue to do so, though their prices will likely continue to fall, said a new report from Bain & Co.
The report produced for the Antwerp World Diamond Centre, estimates current lab-grown gem production at 2 million cts. a year, with the majority of that under 0.18 cts. It estimates that production is currently growing at 15–20 percent annually.
It reports that it costs $300–$500 per ct. to produce a CVD lab-grown diamond, compared with $4,000 per ct. in 2008. It calculates that the retail price of gem-quality lab-grown diamonds has fallen by about half in the past two years, while wholesale prices have fallen threefold. It forecasts that trend will continue as efficiencies increase, new competitors enter the market, and the product gets “commoditized” like natural diamonds.
“Lab-grown diamonds are clearly here to stay,” the report says, pointing to De Beers’ entrance into the market and the Federal Trade Commission’s decision to remove the word natural from its definition of diamond.
“Given the pace of declining production costs and wholesale and retail prices,” it adds, “we expect lab-grown stones to become accessible to a wider consumer audience.”
However, in the short- and medium-term, it says that the man-made market will be constrained by limits on manufacturing capability, funding, and access to technology and intellectual property.
A lot depends on how much consumers embrace the product. It suggests three possible scenarios for how this could play out: In the first, customers no longer perceive a difference between natural and lab-grown diamonds except for the highest-quality stones. In the second, the natural segment does differentiate itself, perhaps by limiting lab-growns to the fashion category. The third is “some combination of the two,” where naturals are differentiated in every category but low-end stones.
Regarding natural diamonds, the report estimates that diamond jewelry sales rose an unimpressive 2 percent in 2017, but suggests that this year’s number may be higher, led by strong U.S. demand. It forecasts continued growth in the diamond jewelry market, though it warns that a protracted trade war between China and the United States could hurt consumer confidence in both countries.
Rough diamond production spiked 19 percent in 2017 to reach 151 million cts., ending an eight-year trend of flat output. Yet, last year may represent the “pinnacle” of rough diamond production, and the report expects that the mine output going forward will be “flat at best” as existing mines get depleted.
Both rough and polished diamond prices trended up during the first half of 2018, by 3 and 2 percent, respectively, though last year the price of polished fell 3 percent.
Profitability in the midstream—dealers and manufacturers—equaled about 1–3 percent. India continues to dominate the cutting and polishing segment, manufacturing more than 90 percent of world production, with its market share continually growing."
uly 30, 2018 by ROB BATES
"Traditional diamond organizations said they were disappointed at the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) overhaul of its Jewelry Guides—even as man-made diamond companies cheered.
In its latest revision announced last week, the FTC made a number of changes to its traditional guidance regarding both lab-grown diamonds and diamonds in general. It removed the word natural from the definition of a diamond; allowed new descriptors for lab-grown gems as long as they clearly describe the product as not mined; said that implying lab-grown stones are not real could be deceptive; deleted the word synthetic from its list of approved lab-grown descriptors; and okayed the previously forbidden word gemstone to describe man-made stones.
The Guides still mandate clear disclosure of lab-grown diamonds, FTC attorney Reenah L. Kim said in an interview with JCK last week.
In a statement, World Federation of Diamond Bourses president Ernest Blom complained the new Guides show “too much of a bias” toward the lab-grown sector and noted they diverge from the Diamond Guidelines agreed to by his organization and other groups.
“Our paramount aim is always consumer confidence, and the revision has the potential to cause a degree of confusion,” he said. “[Allowing lab-grown companies to use new descriptors] might provide too much latitude in their marketing claims.”
Martin Rapaport, chairman of the Rapaport Group, arced that the change in the diamond definition “focus[es] on physical properties instead of scarcity and value differentiation, which are key factors in product definition and vital for consumer protection.” CONTINUE READING
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.”
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
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