A New Market for Colored Synthetics?

Synthetic fancy colored diamonds are not only politically and ecologically correct but also just the ticket for those who want a fancy colored diamond but can’t afford a natural stone, says Alex Grizenko, president and CEO of Lucent Diamonds in Golden, Colo. Since synthetic stones originate in laboratories, they’re not subject to Third World politics or unearthed at nature’s expense. “Even De Beers claims the ratio of land mass to recovery unit is a billion to one,” notes Grizenko. Additionally, unlike diamonds subjected to high pressure/high temperature (HPHT) or other difficult-to-identify treatments, synthetic diamonds can always be identified by a gemological laboratory.

“It’s truly a diamond,” says Grizenko of his fancy synthetics, reiterating that synthetic diamond is the same substance as natural diamond but made in a laboratory rather than by nature.

Given the current popularity of colored diamonds, Grizenko is hopeful that his synthetic stones will create a new diamond market. Who would make up

that new market? “Jewelers who look at the marketplace and ask, ‘How is it going to change, and how can I find myself at the right place at the right time when it does change?'” Grizenko says.

Darrell Olson, owner of Jewels by G. Darrell Olson in Phoenix, is one. He recently opened a store in Sedona, Ariz., which has a small population of both affluent residents and artists. Olson is promoting Grizenko’s Lucent diamonds.

“We don’t carry any synthetics, other than Chatham emeralds, and diamonds are a large part of our business. We thought we would use the new lab-grown, lab-created diamonds to interest the public in coming into the store,” says Olson. He expects the diamonds to sell. “It’s still a thing of beauty. They have intense color. You know, women are more interested in the beauty than in where they come from.”

Proving pedigree. The European Gem Lab (EGL) in New York gives Grizenko’s synthetic diamonds complete diamond-grading certificates, which include origin. (Other grading labs identify synthetic diamonds as synthetics but don’t quality grade them.) This helps take the jeweler off the front line in terms of risk, says Grizenko, who maintains that jewelers should not “be placed in a position of liability.”

Grizenko acknowledges that for some buyers a certificate won’t matter much. “But jewelers have a wide client base, and for some, it will be important to have a piece of paper from a lab that says that what they are admiring is a real diamond,” he notes. “It’s critical for the industry to separate the natural from the synthetic, the treated from the nontreated. If [products have] similar pricing and origin.then it doesn’t matter. Who cares? But if the natural costs $150,000, and the same fancy color in a created diamond costs $7,000, then it does matter. In order to protect that balance of the industry, you cannot have misrepresentation of the gem.”

“We’re selling beauty in our business,” says Olson. “The expertise will remain the same. You make your client knowledgeable [about] what they are buying. You create the interest for them to come in and look.”