Diamonds: Gemesis’ Lab-Grown Stones, Reese Witherspoon’s Ashoka Ring

The Name Game

In the wake of Gemesis’ late November announcement that it will sell lab-grown colorless diamonds to consumers via its website, new arguments are erupting over what to call the stones.

Stephen Lux, president and CEO of the Sarasota, Fla.–based company, says synthetic creates “tremendous confusion” among buyers, who believe it indicates something fake. He notes that some sellers of cubic zirconia call their product “synthetic diamond,” even though it isn’t. “We are separate from moissanite, CZ, and the rest,” says Lux. “We see ourselves as part of the industry and hope the trade realizes that years from now, when there is less supply of mined stones, people are going to want these.”

But others note that synthetic comes from synthesis—and is, therefore, scientifically accurate. “The discussion on nomenclature will in all probability not be resumed to accommodate a single company’s marketing campaign,” says Udi Sheintal, president of the Diamond Commission of CIBJO, the World Jewellery Confederation.

Sheintal, who is managing director of the Israel Diamond Manufacturers Association, says synthetic is acceptable: Under International Diamond Council and CIBJO rules, Gemesis “can only use the term synthetic or the alternative terms laboratory-­created or laboratory-grown. The Federal Trade Commission allows for two additional, stand-alone terms: created and man-made.” But he feels the word cultured—which Gem­esis has used—is not an apt descriptor, as the FTC has ruled it can only be used in conjunction with another approved term.

The industry also expressed concern that these lab-created stones will seep, undetected, into the normal stream of commerce. Gemesis says it plans to inscribe any diamonds it sells (with the exception of melee). And Gemological Institute of America scientists stress that most gemological laboratories can distinguish the lab-grown stones from naturals.

Chemical vapor deposition–grown diamonds are “a little bit more challenging to identify” than synthetic diamonds grown with the high-pressure, high-temperature method, says Shane McClure, director of West Coast Identification Services at the GIA Laboratory. “It’s not that there are no signs, but what there is, is more subtle.”

While GIA has not examined any of the Gemesis-produced colorless diamonds, McClure says most labs have detection equipment that is 100 percent accurate. He advises ­jewelers who aren’t sure about the origin of a specific stone to send it to a gemological laboratory.

Ashoka Fares Well

A William Goldberg Ashoka diamond ring similar to the one
Reese Witherspoon wears

Hollywood agent Jim Toth marked his engagement to actress Reese Witherspoon with a 4.00 ct. Ashoka diamond set on a pavé and platinum band. The William Goldberg company in New York City worked with Toth to design the ring. Ashoka rings feature 62 displayed facets and rounded corners.

Russell Simmons’ DEF Charity Jam

A sold-out benefit dinner held in London Nov. 8 raised more than $1 million for the Diamond Empowerment Fund. De Beers chairman Nicky Oppenheimer and Peter Sands, group chief executive for Standard Chartered Bank, were honored for their charity work. DEF founder Russell Simmons also presented Diamond Trading Company managing director Varda Shine with a surprise accolade: Humanitarian of the Year 2010.

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