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June 29, 2017
I've been hearing this radio ad over and over again lately. On it, a local jeweller is talking about the lab created diamonds that they are now offering. They go on to say that "creating a diamond is unbelievably difficult which makes it more rare than most geological diamonds."
Normally I wouldn't mention what my competition is talking about on the radio. But this really bothers me because it simply is not true. Lab created diamonds are not, by definition, rare.
When you create something in a lab, the idea is that you can keep recreating whatever it is that you have made. Research and development can cost a lot at the forefront, however, over time these costs diminish and you end up with something that you can readily recreate at little cost. With lab created diamonds, as the technology improves and gets better, the costs will come down and we will see more of them produced at cheaper and cheaper prices. This, in effect, means that they are not rare, and indeed, will only become more readily available at lower and lower prices.
Natural gemstones are rare because it is the earth that creates them over extremely long periods of time, under a great amount of heat and pressure. For a diamond to even survive the trip from deep within the earth to a point where humans can extract them is somewhat of a miracle to begin with. Then, humans have to find them which requires specialized equipment, use heavy machinery to extract them once found, meticulously sort the extracted rough, and finally, cut, polish, grade, and sell. To find a D colour, internally flawless diamond is the definition of rare! And to top it all off, 99% of the diamonds that are actually found and recovered are not even gemstone grade - most end up being used for industrial purposes.
In my experience, there are generally speaking two reasons why someone may decide to purchase a lab created diamond: price and ethics. Price is obvious as most of the time people come in with certain budgets that they are willing to spend too. Many of the designer engagement rings today have become quite expensive - Tacori, for example, can cost you $5,000 - $10,000 just for the mount! - and you will still need to put something in the middle of the ring. A lab created diamond is perhaps one of the better options today than something like a cubic zirconia as it will be able to stand up to the day-to-day wear that rings face.
Ethics is the other reason I have heard that people will use to justify buying a lab created diamond. Still many people today believe that diamonds are unethical. And although many bad things have happened from the proceeds of the diamond industry as I talked about here, often times people are very much misinformed. Watching the movie "Blood Diamond" is interesting, but one must keep in mind that this is a movie made in Hollywood and about a situation that occurred over 20 years ago. Diamonds today do so much good for individuals, communities, and governments, and yet most of the public is unaware of this thanks to the press coverage that focuses more on the negative than anything else.
One important thing needs to be understood when buying a lab created diamond. Although we cannot predict the future, in all likelihood, the value of a lab created diamond today versus 3-5 years from now will decrease, not increase. As the technology matures and more and more competition becomes available, more of these lab creations will become available to the public. When purchasing a lab created diamond, this is important to know. One example of this happened in our industry when tungsten carbide rings became available. When they first hit the market as TrewTungsten by Trent West, they were rather expensive, usually $1000 plus at retail. In time, these prices came down quite substantially to what they are today, usually retailing around $200-$250.
Personally, I am not opposed to lab created diamonds. They are here and they will probably not go away. In fact, we have sold a few of them ourselves and most times it is simply because of budgetary reasons. What I am opposed to, however, is misleading the public about it. When I heard that ad, which has been playing at quite a regular frequency, I simply could not sit by and not say anything. Lab created diamonds are an interesting alternative to natural diamonds, but to think that they are 'rarer' than their natural counterparts is simply wrong.