Synthetic, Lab-Grown and Man-Made Diamonds…
The above are all terms for diamonds grown with specialized laboratory equipment which simulates the intense heat and pressure in the earth which caused natural diamonds to form. Synthetic diamonds are chemically same as those obtained through mining. The first man made diamonds were produced in the 1950’s but gem diamonds cost more to make than mined ones. For many years it was beyond the scope of technology to create colorless synthetic diamonds, but today’s technology and equipment have made it possible. Detection is extremely difficult for the average gemologist and requires specialized laboratory equipment.
Simulants like CZ are not Synthetic Diamonds
Gemstones that simulate diamonds, such as cubic zirconia and silicon carbide or moissanite, do not have the same properties as natural or synthetic diamonds, nor are they actually carbon crystals. As the same implies, they “simulate” what a diamond looks like, but are not actually diamonds. Synthetic diamonds, chemically and technically, are in fact diamonds. They were just pressed in a lab over a few months’ time or made in high tech microwave ovens, not naturally formed in the earth hundreds of millions of years ago.
Do Synthetics Cost Less?
The cost-basis of colorless synthetic diamonds is still relatively high, coming close to 70% of the cost of mining and bringing natural diamonds to market. Fancy yellow colored diamonds can be made more cheaply than colorless diamonds, and they cost more than colorless diamonds – but there is less demand. There are also extreme controls exercised by labs and industry authorities regarding disclosure and promotions. This means synthetics must be marketed on distinctly different grading reports and loudly proclaimed as man-made-diamonds (MMDs) in a manner that a majority of consumers so-far appears to find off-putting. Market reviews by Bain Co and others have suggested that until lab-grown diamonds can be produced for less than half the price of mined diamonds there will not be enough demand. However, some people are attracted to the idea of man-made diamonds as opposed to mined diamonds for environmental or other reasons.
Are My Diamonds Natural?
The trade-at-large has been careful to compartmentalize every step, from lab-diamond-growth to market, in order to create clear separation of Synthetics, aka MMDs, from those with natural origins. Only a small number of companies currently produce synthetics and their output is closely monitored. For now these diamonds serve only a niche market, due to the stigma surrounding the product, and possibly the cost-basis still being close to diamonds of natural origins. There is no doubt that the eco-friendly and “no-conflict” aspects have appeal, and as technology improves we may see a rise in consumer buy-in.
The larger buzz has been the possibility of “sneaking” these diamonds into the market as natural. The world’s major labs are constantly scrutinizing submissions, but the main disclosure concern has regarded melee, or tiny diamonds, which are traded with less involvement and oversight from the major labs. Everyone from mining-houses to labs to bourses/dealer’s-clubs is vigilant, as disruption in disclosure is seen as a potential consumer-confidence nightmare.
Check Your Grading Report
The world’s major grading labs either reject synthetic diamonds or require them to be reported on distinctly different documents.
This GIA Synthetic Diamond Grading Report is one such example.
Know Your Jeweler
The best protection for consumers comes from reputable business entities doing business with long-standing reputable suppliers they know to be vigilant and capable of protecting natural supply. As with conflict-free, reputable reporting and gemological standards, the best jewelry retailers serve as agents and guardians for their clients, acting on their behalf with expertise, experience and strong internal relationships.
Call our appraiser today at (303)223-4944 for an appointment or inquire right now by email.