Getting Real About Synthetics

Imagine for a moment that you're a consumer. You've read the Wired cover story on "cultured" diamonds. Or you saw them on Good Morning America or a PBS show or one of the many media outlets that have done synthetics stories in the past year. You've heard that synthetics are just the same as natural stones. Cheaper, too. They are revolutionizing the diamond industry. You want some. But here things get tricky. Chances are, no stores in your town carry synthetic diamonds. None in nearby towns, either. None even in your state. A search on the Internet unearths more articles about the stones than actual diamonds. And, it turns out, many "cultured" gems sold online are really cubic zirconias—a misleading practice, says the Jewelers Vigilance Committee. Which raises a point that's been lost in the recent media coverage: Large quantities of synthetics may hit the market some day. But they

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