Are Lab-Grown Diamonds the Future?

The FTC published a new Jewelry Guide in July of 2018 which are designed to help consumers get accurate information when shopping for gemstones. This is the first update in more than twenty years. One major difference in this edition is that the word ‘natural’ is no longer used in the definition of a diamond. There is a growing trend of selling more lab-grown diamonds and even companies that exclusively sell lab-grown diamonds, such as Ada Diamonds. This could lead to a major change in the jewelry industry.

Until the recent change in the definition of a diamond, the FTC stated, “A diamond is a natural mineral consisting essentially of pure carbon crystallized in the isometric system.” After the changes and updates in the new Jewelry Guide, the definition of a diamond now states, “A diamond is a mineral consisting essentially of pure carbon crystallized in the isometric system.”

Although there may be concerns from consumers as to whether their diamond will be mined or lab-created, the FTC continues to require jewelry sellers to disclose if a diamond for sale was mined or manufactured. Jewelry sellers are not allowed to market lab-grown diamonds as ‘natural, genuine or real’ or any similar terms as that would result in false advertisement. If a seller were to promote a diamond as ‘cultured’ they must also include details such as ‘lab-grown, laboratory-grown or created.’

The lab-grown diamond company, Ada Diamonds told CNBC the story behind their lab-grown diamond business. Jason Payne was set to find his girlfriend the perfect engagement ring, when his girlfriend raised major ethical concerns about sporting a “blood diamond”. Payne ended up proposing with a sapphire ring to avoid his fiancée’s ethical concerns.

Later, Jason read something that promised to turn the diamond industry upside down. He found that labs were successfully manufacturing diamonds with an equivalent quality to mined diamonds. Better yet, these lab-grown diamonds were being sold at a fraction of the price.

Once his fiancée heard the news of laboratory-grown diamonds she decided to add gemstones to her ring. The new problem? No laboratory wanted to sell their diamonds directly to a consumer and no custom jewelers where they lived would work with the couple and the labs.

“So we founded Ada Diamonds to fix that problem — to create the company that we wish existed when we were going through our own personal journey to build a custom ring,” Payne told CNBC Make It.

Payne discovered how to create the same pressure and temperatures with head and hydraulic presses to create a 1-carat stone; instead of waiting millions of years for the pressure of the earth to crystallize carbon into a diamond, Payne could do it in as little as one week.

The idea of lab-grown diamonds has sparked a huge debate within the jewelry industry. Does the FTC’s removal of the word ‘natural’ mean that all diamonds are ‘real’ whether they were mined or lab-grown? Could this mean that jewelers could potentially start losing money if these lab-grown diamonds continue to gain popularity?

Although most consumers are unaware of this new diamond process, it still yields much speculation. A lab-created diamond appears extremely similar to a mined diamond, but those with a well-trained eye might be able to tell the difference.

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