Lab Grown Diamonds, In Living Colorless

Some thoughts on Gemesis’ announcement that it is
mass-producing colorless gems

– After I posted the story I received some emails expressing
skepticism, reminding me that mass-produced “white” stones have been talked
about for some time—in fact, for decades—and are still not seen on the market
in any quantity. Three years ago, Apollo Diamond boasted
about a
“technical breakthrough” that would turn it into a “perpetual
diamond mine.” 

This is a different situation. Gemesis CEO and president Stephen Lux had a nice-sized
assortment of beautiful stones that he showed me (some of which are pictured
in the story
).  Still, some feel the industry shouldn’t panic until we see the
“whites” of their, uh, gems. 

– Which raises the question: Should the industry even panic? The trade’s main concern is that man-made stones will find their way into the
normal stream of commerce without disclosure. Remember, “created” gems are chemically and
physically identical to “mined” diamonds. In fact, they are diamonds, which is why the manufacturers get so offended when
they are compared to CZ and moissanite. They are an entirely different product than simulants.

Now, GIA has stressed,
time and again, that man-made diamonds are detectable with the proper machines.
But most jewelers don’t have that equipment; only the labs do. And while all
the larger diamonds will be inscribed, Lux says the company won’t inscribe
melee. (And, of course, an inscription is removable.)

Still, it’s not very likely that many will “seep in” to the
trade undetected. Most bigger diamonds do receive lab reports. It is also
counter to the FTC Guides to sell a “created” diamond without noting its origin. Plus, there are
some consumers that actually may prefer man-made gems.  And, along those lines..

– I received a lot of comments about the prices quoted to me
by Lux  (a 0.50–0.69 ct. H VVS
stone will go for about $2,888 a carat. A 0.90–0.99 ct. stone of the same
quality, $4,806 a carat.)

Following our interview, I compared those prices to Blue
Nile’s; they are competitive, but not crazily so, and in a few cases, they were
basically the same as the naturals’. 
One dealer estimated the “created” stones will end up about equal to a mined
stone’s wholesale price. In other words, there is a savings, but not a huge one.
And Lux doesn’t see prices falling anytime soon, if ever.

This led one person to ask me: “Who would want to spend
just a bit less for a lab-grown diamond compared to getting the Real Deal?”
That pre-supposes the trade’s bias, that natural is better. However, in the
outside world,  “mined” diamonds
have received ten straight years of bad publicity, which is rarely
. As a Wired article put it,
lab-grown diamonds are “environmentally friendly (no open-pit mines),
sociopolitically neutral (no blood diamonds), and monopoly-free (not controlled
by De Beers).”

Now, that monopoly thing is ridiculous, considering there is
basically only one company manufacturing these
. But plenty of consumers think along those lines—particularly
regarding blood diamonds—and this “ethical” positioning will be a major selling
point for lab-grown stones, that Gemesis has indicated it won’t shy away from.

JCK News Director