The Company Behind Those Freakishly Large Lab-Grown Diamonds



New Diamond Technology has produced 5 ct. and 10 ct. man-made diamonds, and it may just be getting started

First, New Diamond Technology stunned the market with a 5.11 ct. lab-grown diamond. Then it topped that with a 10.02 carater (see video below). Recently, it announced a 5 ct. lab-grown blue diamond that will be displayed at Baselworld 2016 (pictured, right).

These diamonds are impressive achievements for a sector in which, until recently, the largest diamond was 3 cts.  The quality of the St. Petersburg, Russia–based company’s bread-and-butter production also seems significantly ahead of the competition: It says it’s producing 300 cts. of diamonds a month, mostly in the colorless (D-E-F) range, of VVS1–VS1 clarity, about 1–3 cts. “With regular [mine] production, maybe 2 percent are in the colorless ranges,” says company general director Nikolay Khikhinashvili. “With us, it’s 98 percent.”

In fact, after I first met with NDT, I checked with sources in the lab-grown diamond business to make sure it was for real. But now that both GIA and IGI have vouched that these big stones do exist, that brings up another question: How does it do it?

During a visit yesterday to JCK’s offices, Khikhinashvili offered few specifics but noted that the company is constantly improving both “the inside and outside” of its high-pressure high-temperature–based technology, including how it mixes metals into the growing process. Some aspects of its process are patented, he says.

“We can do 15 cts. and even 20 cts. polished,” he says, then smiles. “I think the world is not ready for them yet. We can grow larger sizes, but we are taking it step by step.”

In fact, he says, the company recently produced a 70 ct. piece of lab-grown rough, although it hasn’t been cut. He suggests that even 100 ct. lab-growns may be coming soon. 

As with comparable naturals, the bigger diamonds are “really individual,” he says. “The costs of the technology to produce them are very large. We have had offers, but it is hard to put a price on them. You can’t just go out to the street with them.”

The company is selling its bread-and-butter stones to various companies in Europe, Hong Kong, and the United States, though it won’t give the names of the U.S. companies. But Khikhinashvili says they are sold fully disclosed, with IGI reports. Their price is about 10 to 20 percent lower than that of naturals. “They are not cheap,” he says. “There is no difference between our stones and regular diamonds.”

Khikhinashvili comes from a diamond-industry family and happened upon the diamond-growing technology while a student. (Russia has traditionally been a hotbed of diamond growing.) As with other companies in this sector, he is also interested in the growing diamonds with the chemical vapor deposition (CVD) method for industrial purposes, which could prove far more lucrative than the gem market.

He realizes that the entire industry has welcomed lab-growns with open arms but believes industry perceptions are changing.

“It will take time,” he says. “Two years ago, maybe 80 percent [of the industry] was negative. Now it’s maybe 40 percent.”

(Photo courtesy of New Diamond Technology)

JCK News Director