LAB GROWN DIAMONDS: Cultured diamonds, cultured pearls
“Lab-created diamonds are not fakes. They’re not cubic zirconias. They have all the same physical and chemical properties of a mined diamond.” says Stephen Morisseau, a spokesman for the Gemological Institute of America, a nonprofit organisation that oversees the international diamond grading system.
One of them is a ’natural’ diamond, created by forces deep within the Earth. The second one is from a laboratory and possesses essentially the same chemical, physical and optical properties as its natural counterpart. (GIA.edu)
Both are diamonds.
Remember, when in 1890 Kokichi Mikimoto, a Japanese entrepreneur, created the first cultured pearl industry. He cultivated major shifts in the pearl industry and to this day his brand is still ranked as one of the world's most luxurious brands.
If Mr. Mikimoto was able to start with cultured pearl industry over a hundred years ago, it was just a matter of time when same the process will nudge the diamond industry as well.
Today diamonds are undergoing the same development as pearls.
So the question stays: how to keep your customers happy with these new changes in the market?
The answer is to grow with you customer and stand for your quality!
Since I began dealing at the Antwerp Diamond Stock Exchange, my motto was and always will be to stand for the customer - stand for the quality in stones, in style and in execution.
1. Tell me, what does a lab grown diamond exactly mean?
Lab grown diamonds are a great example how scientists nowadays can create more sustainable choices.
Lab-grown diamond is a diamond: chemically, physically and optically identical to a mined diamond. One is grown above the ground while the other is extracted from the ground. Simply put, it is a real diamond! Difference comes from the point of origin.
Naturally occurring diamonds are forged in the crushing pressure and immense heat of the Earths' mantle around 100 miles underground. Most were formed between 1 to 3 billion years ago at a time when our planet was hotter than it is today.
Now labs allow diamonds to be formed from a piece of seeded carbon in controlled conditions! Molecule by molecule, layer by layer.
Head gemologists of HRD, GIA, IGI are confirming that lab grown diamonds are diamonds.
2. So is there a unique method to grow them?
This method is now the new normal in the jewelry industry.
The most important thing we need to understand - time. There is no customer who’s going to wait for a billion years. And even then mining can't provide the perfect diamonds. Jewelry market is full of artificial areas, creating higher expectations for diamonds’ clarity, shape and size.
The strongest proof for the diamond industry is still valid - No two diamonds are alike. No matter what is the method.
High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) system: the seed is placed amidst some pure graphite carbon and exposed to temperatures of about 1,500C and pressurised to approximately 1.5 million pounds per square inch in a chamber.
At the moment, the newest method is called Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD). This involves putting the seed in a sealed chamber filled with carbon-rich gas and heating to around 800C. Under these conditions the gases begin to “stick” to the seed, growing a diamond carbon atom by atom.
Due to the innovation in technology, the price has reduced during last the decade, so it is a part of agile global turnaround. The diamond market itself has now shifted from the no-no business to go-go business.
In other words: Hydro-powered plasma reactor, which is carbon neutral from the manufacturing point, allows exactly the same process as in earth, reproduced in the laboratory. A rough lab grown diamond is grown from a small diamond seed. The diamond seed is placed in an environment that contains carbon, the molecular component of diamonds. After applying tremendous pressure and very high temperatures, under highly controlled conditions, the small diamond seed begins to grow, emulating nature’s process. The result is a rough diamond which can be cut and polished for use in jewelry like any other naturally mined diamond.
3. I am absolutely thrilled about the process you described. Please tell me how does the lab grown diamond market affect mined stones and existing fine jewellery…
Did start-up companies kill the entire industry? No. Lab grown attitude is very start-up-like! Now’s the time for disruptive brands!
Believe me, there is enough space for mined stones and for lab grown diamonds to coexist.
We just can’t close our eyes saying that we only value the old style. Like we didn’t whit hybrid technologies within the car industry, the coming of smartphones and TV-s among others. We happily accepted these alternatives and took it as a the new norm.
The 3 major diamond laboratories GIA, HRD and IGI provide grading reports certifying the stone, parameters and the source being laboratory-grown.
This is are the facts: lab grown diamonds are a rapidly growing trend. Their transparency is guaranteed and the market growth as been up to 20% per season. There is also a huge potential to play with the design in jewellery due to the new affordable price.
The future is a high-tech world, where lab-grown diamonds are accepted as the new norm, which are a perfect symbolisation of the modern world.
The lab-grown diamonds offer jewellers much more freedom when creating new pieces. That’s due to the overseen growing process, the shape and size of the diamond can be easily controlled in a lab.
4. Are there any secrets behind the diamond I haven't ask yet?
There is a secret about diamonds: the narrative is not about the price or native/lab rarity. It is emotional, it is about memories, moments and occasions. It is about customer’s journey, about a moment to get valued by diamonds. For mentioned purposes, diamond keeps its' value for long time, even after our lifetime. Both lab grown and mined diamonds.
There’s a new segment of customers rising as well – self gifting women. Growing trend, which is gaining popularity isn't going away any time soon.
5. What about the combination between trends and style?
Just as the pearl industry after Mikimoto, the jewelry industry will have to adapt to the changes as well. We have to shift our focus on more important matters, lets call it a PIVOT shift!
I stand for the classic gems with a modern twist! My absolute favourite is Carbon on Carbon concept.
Re-sculpt your rare stones. For me this upgrade is part of the sustainability! This modern luxury allows us to combine natural and lab grown stones, bringing something exciting and refreshing to the table.
Stephen Webster once said: “A lot of fashion-forward jewelry is about design.“