The march of technology carries on.
Our diamonds are lab-grown, by people who are well treated, make a respectable living, like you and I. Our diamonds are cruelty-free, Blood-free, and sustainable.
"At Brilliant Earth we strive to make jewelry as beautiful as it can be. We are passionate about cultivating a more ethical, transparent, and sustainable jewelry industry."
They can probably even start charging more for them to make up for the loss of revenue.
It's the same thing as buying a brand vs generic or lesser known brand, even if the latter is the same or better.
Rich people pay enormous sums for vanity plates, this is no different.
Honestly, I'd rather have a stone which was formed over geologic ages in the bowels of the Earth than one which was formed over the last month in a garage in Hoboken.
But I'd also prefer not to subsidise genocide, civil war or De Beers. And I'm cheap.
I can see spending extra on a real diamond for something special, but not for something run-of-the-mill.
The thing is, how many of the traditional uses for jewelry-grade diamonds fall into the category of 'run-of-the-mill'? I think the engagement-ring business is probably secure for a long time. Earrings and other small jewelry? Probably not so much. The sort of things given for important anniversaries and occasions? Probably decently secure.
"Oh cool, you dug up a shiny old rock that's been in the earth for millions of years."
vs for me, man-made diamonds say:
"We used cutting edge technology that can simulate the weight of an entire mountain over a tiny area to make an shiny thing!"
My wife and I are suckers for cool tech. A man-made diamond will forever be cooler than something that happened naturally over millions of years.
They're not even particularly shiny in their natural form.
Can you elaborate on why you feel this way? The products are indistinguishable without an electron microscope, and you stated you don't want to contribute to the evils of the natural diamond trade. So what makes a "real" diamond so fucking desirable? The psychology of that baffles me.
> Can you elaborate on why you feel this way?
I guess I can try, but I suspect that it's one of those things where different folks just have different mindsets.
I think that it'd be amazing to have a stone (diamond, emerald, sapphire, amethyst — whatever) which was the result of long and slow processes operating over millions of years (in the case of diamonds, dating back to the Precambrian, before there were even plants). That's just incredibly cool!
Sure, a lab-grown diamond is an interesting exemplar of man's technical artifice, but it's just not the same thing.
It's an emotional difference, not a rational one.
There's nothing special about diamonds here. Go out and pick up some rocks.
This is the fundamental basis of any luxury market. Quality is a relatively secondary concern, and ethical considerations have appeared only in recent years. Think about one of those discoveries where a little sketch sold at a flea market turns out to be a Caravaggio or something: suddenly the value skyrockets; the art is exactly the same, it's uniqueness that has changed.
Edit: Let me put it another way. Preferring a natural diamond to a lab-grown diamond when you know how they are obtained is tacit approval of murder, theft, and war, atrocities committed to ensure you get that "real" diamond on your finger. It's appalling that any sane, compassionate human being would be so flippant about the lives lost and families torn apart by the diamond trade.
I agree that it's a silly thing to make an engagement about, and that the trade is appalling. But let's not pretend it's not cooler on at least one axis to have an object formed inside the earth vs in a lab.
So your "green" idea actually makes things worse not better.
By the time it's been brilliant-cut, all nominative links to that history are gone. There's all sorts of interesting rocks out there that have been formed over geologic ages in the bowels of the earth, and they're usually dirt-cheap too. Diamonds make attractive jewelery not because of the backstory, but because of the sparkle, and they sparkle just the same regardless of origin.
TL;DR: if it's geological history that you value, a jewel diamond is next to worthless for you.
That said, I suspect I'm not the only one who thinks synthetic is cooler than natural.
I guess some people still enjoy showing it off and proclaiming how expensive it was, but you might as well brag about having flushed a thousand dollars down the toilet for all the effect it will have on your life.
The only thing holding the prices up is that none of the people supplying diamonds really want to let loose as the value of diamonds will rapidly go to zero and nobody will get any money.
Nothing says "will you marry me?" like blood and slavery. Carefully curated by the most successful arms dealers. Each diamond has a story.
"The woman expects the man to give her something valuable that retains value just like their relationship. Snapchat Millennials or not, getting engaged to be married is not about creating a snap-relationship with a snap-synthetic diamond that does not retain value." (said by Martin Rapaport)
So, in the end, I see this also as a fight between the two point of view: diamonds as jewerly vs diasmonds as finantial assets. The latter, I believe, is destined to die.
Don't count the mined diamond suppliers out yet. It's been all about marketing for decades so this is just the first shot.
All this noise about a lousy forty percent discount? I was looking for a ninety eight percent discount. I was looking for diamonds flowing out of our faucets like water.
Demand might still be there because it looks nice, but whether that combined with the lower price would make overall demand go up or down is anyones guess.
I don't think people often want a product specifically because it looks like something expensive, since there are two factors at play that severely undermine using a lookalike to appear richer than you are: (1) Most of the people you interact with already have a good sense of whether you can afford the real, expensive, thing or whether you'd need to buy the lookalike; and (2) people who have one genuinely expensive thing generally have a lot of other expensive things, but you (the generic you) don't, making it difficult to carry off the impression.
People definitely do often want a product specifically because it is itself expensive; I find wanting a product because some other product is expensive somewhat farfetched. You'd have to be targeting people you rarely interact with.
I have a small collection of synthetic gemstones, and when I show them off to other people the responses have generally fallen into one of three groups: "Huh. What's the point of having those?"; "Wow, they're beautiful!"; or "They look fake." (I'm not sure what the group 3 people imagine gemstones are supposed to look like.) Demand in group 2 will rise with a price drop. I met one girl who made it clear that she loved my clear cubic zirconia despite my telling her it was only an imitation diamond and suggesting that I preferred the colored stones.
Although I'm engineer, I have a professional background in the diamond industry. A friend of mine, an astrophysicist working on focal points, wanted a high quality diamond. I helped him secure an 'investment grade' gem. At first I proposed a lab grown diamond from Diamond Foundry to see how he responded as he understands and appreciates optics far better than I (technically), although I could argue my position as a gemologist.
His response: he quickly turned down the option and wanted a natural stone, not lab grown. I found it slightly strange (from a technical standpoint), but understood his response.
We secured a rare IF 1.5ct certified diamond in Tel Aviv.
Natural diamonds are valued more on scarcity and irrational conditions. To sell a lab grown diamond, it may help to sell the story of the lab and the diamond cutter.
Is it silly to wonder if we will one day be able to use diamond as a structural material?
For structural component you want high tensile strenght, high stiffness, high toughness, low weight and low price. If you compare natural diamond to Eglin steel, diamond only wins in weight. Carbon fiber is better in every way, the only problem remaining how you glue the fibers together.
One area of interest has been diamond like carbon for coatings of mechanical parts. (It's actually pitch black, don't get too exited. And it actually doesn't share the precise crystal structure either.)
Again it has few very disfavorable characteristics. Typically good wear resistance comes from good H/E ratio. ( Hardness= hardness, E= Youngs modulus = stiffness ) Now diamond is too stiff. Glass and rubber have better ratios, and both are increasingly used as coatings while DLC seems to be stuck in a very small niche. Threatened by shitloads of different carbides and nitrides which often have better H/E, better strenght and better toughness, while being only slightly less hard. (Strenght and hardness are different things.)
Also DLC dissolves into steel and burns in very hot temperatures. These are shared by actual diamonds. So diamond doesn't even cut it in hardcore cutting blades, where extreme hardness and compressive strenght would otherwise be useful. Only concrete and aluminum are routinely cut with diamond.
The major problem of swords is fatigue while notched. Low alloy steels are some of the best known materials for this. But they don't stay sharp very well and hardened high carbon steel can just cut through such beam. When you go from high carbon steel to very high carbon steel, you get additionally "left over austenite". A real time hardening method which helps both against nocthing and against fatigue. The stuff spontaneously quenches itself under stress(!). A reaction more commonly known to happen in manganese steel, but here it happens to lesser degree.
> A diamond's exceptional properties (it is one of the hardest natural material on the planet, the most effective heat conductor, and largely unaffected by most acids) make it ideal for drilling, grinding, and cutting.
I'd also like to see someone incorporate a layer of diamond into a CPU heat sink.
Unfortunately, it can only be made at high pressure and temperature, and it requires significantly higher P (>20 GPa vs <10 GPa) and T than typical HPHT diamonds. That means (1) current HPHT apparatus cannot be used to make nano-polycrystalline diamond, and (2) it is unlikely that we will ever be able to make large single pieces, as large volumes at high pressure require very large presses.
Synthetic industrial diamonds are typically made in China using hinge-type cubic anvil apparatus, whereas npd requires a Kawai-cell octahedral multi-anvil apparatus to reach higher pressure. Thus, the existing synthetic diamond infrastructre cant be used to make npd. The largest npd pieces reported in the literature are 15 x 15 mm cylinders, and they required a 6000 ton press.
I don't want soccer-ball sized npd, just npd big enough, (as well as cheap and readily available) to make typically-sized anvils for high pressure apparatus. It is stronger than tungsten carbide, so it can go to higher pressures, and it is relatively transparent to x-rays, so it is easy to make in situ measurements. Widespread availability of such material would significantly change high pressure research.
PR people reach out to reporters with stories that (they hope) said reporters will find interesting for themselves and their readers. It's how things work. Hopefully, the story still ends up being sufficiently researched but, in most cases, the reporter or their editor didn't just wake up one morning and decide this would be an interesting story.
I bought my fiancee a lab diamond last year, for ethical reasons (nice to read it is better for the environment too). The lower price allowed me to get a better stone, too.
I cannot understand the mindset that rejects lab grown diamonds. It is the pinacle of selfish, ignorant consumerism.
A diamond ring doesn't exactly scream 'anti-consumerism' either, it has practically no use and is valued only because it is expensive. To me it says 'look how important money is in my life'.
I don't think that's true. My grandmother's engagement ring for example was diamond and that was before the whole DeBeers thing started. What De Beers did do was move diamond from being just one of many possible options to being that only possible option for an engagement ring.
I really can't see a down-side.
They already lobbyed the laws once after all and they aren't shorter on cash this time around so..
That's why the diamond I bought came from Canada.
They are concerned about usual threats that any jeweler/producer would have. But their (former) CEO also said to me that De Beers already has synthetic facilities and will likely pivot over to where IIa is in a few years. They just got the jump and are taking advantage of it.
Diamond mine days are numbered.
They'll just pander to the rich.
Luxury brands did not end up bankrupt because cheaper and just as good or even better alternatives came to the market.
That's what's most exciting. Maybe natural diamonds will lose all their value because nobody will be able to know if they've even got one or not.
The old way of making diamonds, growing them in metallic solvents at pressures over 50K atmospheres (where diamond is the thermodynamically stable form of carbon) produced crystals with metallic solvent inclusions and other flaws that would distinguish them from naturals. It was hard but not impossible to make a D flawless gem with HPHT methods. It was never economical because of the equipment capital cost and slow growth rate required for that type of diamond.
The microwave plasma chemical vapor deposition (CVD) can make D flawless gems routinely and cheaply. Using hydrogen and methane as the source gases, one can make very nice colorless rough which can be further improved with a short post-deposition high temperature anneal in hydrogen plasma. Laser cutting and conventional faceting then give you a very nice DF rock.
If you want colored diamonds, boron in the synthesis gas gives blue. Other treatments give the full color spectrum.
It is possible to tell CVD synthetics from naturals, but it's not easy. Flaws and inclusions aren't usually helpful. It takes sophisticated absorption and luminescence spectroscopy to see optical features that uniquely identify CVD gems. Most jewelers don't yet have this capability.
The technology barrier to entry is low. If you have the tech chops and can spend $30K, you can do a DIY microwave plasma system and grow your own diamonds. I do this at home. Buying the extant labs won't inhibit subsequent competitors entering the business. And neither will lawsuits, in the long run. IP has a limited life.
I think the brain of the DeBeers dinosaur has finally noticed the mammals gnawing on its tail, and is responding in the only way it knows how. They would be better served to go into the synthetic business themselves, using their marketing resources and > 1 century of branding weight to carve out a new business sector. DeBeers is not a fast mover, so I don't expect this to happen.
Systems optimized for commercial production will get to that weight in less than 24 hours with multiple substrates. Typically, they'll grow 10 - 25 stones at once. They do this by using much higher microwave power (typically 30-60kW) at a lower frequency (915MHz) which gives a larger plasma so they can cover multiple substrates. My system is 2kW @ 2.45GHz (same as microwave ovens), so its throughput is non-commercial. But it's a nice research tool for investigating how plasma chemistry affects diamond growth. And it's fun to grow diamonds in my garden shed! :-)
In the biz environment, you typically get to something that has "good enough" economics, and you start shipping. At that point, you're afraid to touch the deposition equipment for fear of screwing up deliverables. This tends to freeze production economics at far less than what's possible.
I'm poking around to find the next 10x reduction in deposition costs. Everybody should be able to afford diamond doorknobs, don't you think?