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June 30, 2008

Fake Diamonds, for Real

Jill Stoddard
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What if you could make diamonds in a lab that are indistinguishable from mined diamonds? An article in this month’s Smithsonian magazine describes chemical vapor deposition (CVD), a process allowing chemists to make diamonds that even experts with a loupe can’t tell apart from the real ones.

Is this having any affect on the diamond market?

Says Professor Ketty Maisonrouge, a luxury market expert:

This process is not brand-new, and more important, lab diamonds are sold at the same price as the real ones, so it won’t have much of an immediate impact on the market. Also, people are still suspicious of lab-grown diamonds and don’t consider them “the real thing.”

And as we know, the price of diamonds is not really related to scarcity — there are a lot of diamonds out there. But somehow, the price of diamonds keeps going up anyway. This is because of the mystique around diamonds. Any luxury product, even when it’s not a diamond, is sold because people are buying the product’s heritage; they buy the story, they buy legitimacy and they buy quality. And with a mined diamond, you get all those things.

However, it is very possible that a product like this might impact other industries, because as the article mentions, diamonds aren’t only used in jewelry. This might eventually lead to repercussions in the jewelry field, but it’s not going to change the dynamics, at least in the foreseeable future.


by Kim Bohnet | June 30, 2008 at 3:07 PM

As a tour guide at my undergrad institution, I'd point out the engineering building and mention the NASA lab and its antigravity room, joking that engineering students got to float around in it. Found out later that the “room” was minuscule and that it was used to grow diamonds. Apparently the anti-gravity aspect of the chamber allows the diamond to grow evenly in all directions.

by Adaezi Ezinwo | July 01, 2008 at 10:16 AM

Ummm Kim, I'm not sure if you should have given away the location haha I'm a bit uptight that the lab-grown diamonds are sold around the same price, but it's not like i would know anyway.

by Vineet | July 01, 2008 at 11:44 AM

Great!! This could be a cheaper subsitute to the real thing. Just a thought, how feasible is it to expand the process and produce petroleum in labs ??

by Thomas Teichmann | November 24, 2008 at 3:32 PM

Obviously Prof. Maisonrouge has no idea of where and how diamonds are mined if he can say that "the price of diamonds is not related to scarcity". Fake diamonds can be identifyed by sophisticated diamond valuation equipment. A major mine requires investment in excess of USD100 million, and no new sources have been uncovered in more than a decade.

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