The debate over using cultured versus syntheticto describe lab-created diamonds rumbled throughout the CIBJO Congress in May, reports Jack Ogden, executive director for the Gem-A. “It seems to have become as much an emotional issue as it has a rational nomenclature discussion,” says Ogden.
As Ogden points out, the scientific argument that cultured can apply only to organic materials is not wholly accurate. “Man-made quartz, with its huge use in the electronics industry, is called cultured quartz in the scientific literature,” Ogden says. “There is also a relevant quote from as early as 1992.”
The quotation Ogden cites is this: “Some quartz engineers refer to cultured (man-made) quartz as ‘synthetic’ quartz. ‘Synthetic’ gives the connotation of ‘not real,’ so is to be avoided in this context, since cultured quartz is ‘real’ quartz” (“The Constants of Alpha Quartz,” Roger W. Ward, 14th Piezoelectric Devices Conference and Exhibition, Sept. 15–17, 1992).
Alain van Acker, FGA, from the Netherlands, cites a bit of relevant European humor. “In the Netherlands, we have a TVtalk show which features some strange/funny TV moments that were broadcast over the past week. In one of them, they were investigating what people think about ‘fake’ items. They asked a man running a hair-extension shop about fakes. He replied, ‘They are not fake. They are synthetic.’ Everyone found that remark very funny for some odd reason.”