Posted on March 13, 2012
It has certainly been a while since November 2010, when Gemesis first promised to sell lab-grown colorless diamonds over the Internet.
Manmade diamonds have always been looked at as perhaps the strongest possible competitor to natural diamonds, because unlike simulants, they are diamonds, simply produced in a lab rather than by nature. But up until now, most of the companies producing them could manufacture only yellows and other fancy colors, rather than colorless gems.
And Gemesis still doesn’t claim a huge amount of inventory—it carries 3,235 colorless diamonds and 832 fancy yellows. The largest colorless diamond listed is 1.19 cts. Most of the clarity grades are VS and above, and the colors mostly fall in the G-H-I range.
The price differential between lab-grown and natural seems substantial, but not huge; Gemesis lists a 1.04 ct, J VS1 round with very good cut and an IGI report for $4,434. I found a similar GIA-certed stone listed on Whiteflash for $6,916.
Gemesis CEO president and Stephen Lux says that while the company is now selling to the public over the Internet, it hopes to keep selling wholesale as well, and its stones are now offered at Southern California chain Robbins Brothers.
Lux admits all this has taken more time than the company had originally envisioned, but says his technicians had to overcome some major hurdles.
“This has been a massive technology effort,” Lux says. “The color is a vast improvement. And having 3,000 colorless diamonds and almost 1,000 yellow diamonds is a pretty good start.”
Future production will “depend on demand," he says.
While most jewelers cannot tell these diamonds apart visually, they are detectable by gem labs and with the proper equipment. In addition, Gemesis vows to sell them all with inscriptions.
“Occasionally people ask us to take the inscriptions off and I make sure and tell them we won’t do that,” Lux says. “No one in the trade wants things to be clear to consumers more than us."
A lot has changed since Gemesis first appeared on the scene more than a decade ago. While it used to produce all its diamonds in its Sarasota, Fla., headquarters, now they are being manufactured in various locales, including a factory in Malaysia. Most of the colorless diamonds being produced are type IIa diamonds, which are typically brown, raising the possibility that, in addition to being produced by the chemical vapor deposition (CVD) method, the diamonds have also been treated by HPHT. Lux declined comment here, citing his proprietary technology.
But one aspect of the company’s marketing could cause controversy with members of the traditional diamond industry: Every page of the site includes the notation that the diamonds emanate from a “socially and ecologically responsible point of origin.” The company’s press release explicitly proclaims the diamonds “conflict-free.”
“We won’t do a negative campaign,” Lux says. “But we are just saying that if this issue is important to you, we are the people to come to.”
Here are some pics of Gemesis products: