"Synthetic" Diamond Breakthrough - the Fashion Spot
 
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06-10-2003
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Actually, it is a "naturally grown" diamond, but maybe that still counts as synthetic. The emphasis by red color is mine.


Quote:
Copyright 2003 Scottish Media Newspapers Limited
The Sunday Herald

September 21, 2003

SECTION: Pg. 5

LENGTH: 865 words

HEADLINE: Perfect diamonds made in 72 hours;US factory manufacturing gems indistiguishable from real thing

BYLINE: By Noel Young In Boston And Iain S Bruce Noel Young In Boston And Iain S Bruce

BODY:
They have bewitched lovers, bedazzled women and brewed greed in the hearts of men, their glittering allure forged amid three million years of geology's white heat. Beguilingly pure, coveted and formerly rare, diamonds may still be forever, but now a Massachusetts factory is knocking them out in three days flat.

Revealing its ability to create diamonds indistinguishable from the real thing, a US company has sent a seismic shockwave through the (pounds) 4.3 billion gems industry. Promising consistently high quality, slashed prices and rapid availability, the flawless man-made stones have proved capable of fooling even the most experienced high street jewellers.

"These stones are not synthetic. They have been grown as opposed to mined but are as real as any diamond can be, meeting all the requirements and bearing every characteristic of a natural stone," said Robert Linares, chairman of manufacturers Apollo Diamond. "We are currently working with a number of distributors and retailers to offer consumers high-quality gems that will sell at a discount of up to 30%."

In a live demonstration on ABC's Good Morning America last week, representatives from New York's International Gemo-logical Institute failed to pick the manufactured stone from a selection of natural diamonds. Only identifying the man-made gem after using advanced equipment, the baffled experts concurred that a regular jeweller's chance of spotting the ringer amounted to "zero".

The difficulty of identifying Linares's ersatz gems is due to the fact that they are effectively real diamonds. Manufactured in a secret laboratory near Boston using a process called chemical vapour deposition, in which intense heat and pressure are applied to make molten carbon atoms attach to a tiny diamond seed - ultimately creating a flawless three-carat stone in around 72 hours.

The news has provoked a horrified reaction in fashion circles. Appalled, many sticklers for style fear that after centuries of high status, couture's crowning adornment is about to be robbed of its sheen.

"It's simply disastrous. Diamonds are special due to their rarity and value, they're something people aspire to and that make you feel wonderful when they're worn," said celebrity stylist and fashion expert Ceril Campbell. "No girl would feel the same way about her engagement ring if she discovered it had been spat out by a machine the week before."

No less alarmed is the diamond industry itself. For decades firms like De Beers - the sector's biggest player - have controlled diamond prices by maintaining a $ 4bn stockpile, but, with companies such as Florida's Gemesis Corp also perfecting their production processes, manufacturing now looks set to explode.

Upon hearing that the gem he'd just valued at $ 5000 had actually been made for less than $ 100, top Antwerp dealer Aron Weingarten summed up the turmoil facing his business: "Unless they can be detected," he said, "these stones will bankrupt the industry."

Apollo Diamond operates under high security, keeping its address strictly secret and thoroughly vetting journalists seeking interviews. Such covert behaviour might seem excessive to some, but opponents of the industry claim that when dealing with a business dogged by allegations of human rights abuses, dirty tricks and third world exploitation, extreme caution is mandatory.

"After securing funding for a documentary series on the international diamond cartel, one of the conditions was that due to the perils involved, I had to insure my life for the value of the backer's investment. At the time I thought this was over-paranoid, but in the midst of filming I was sexually and violently assaulted by a gang of strangers who came to my home," said author Janine Roberts, whose investigation of the industry - Glitter & Greed - is published this month. "The underside of the diamond cartel is very real and very frightening - it is not to be underestimated."

The industry's response to the entrepreneurial alchemists threatening its stranglehold has been to set up the Gem Defensive Programme, a massive operation distributing equipment capable of spotting manufactured diamonds for free. An extensive publicity campaign is also under way warning jewellers and the public about the new gems.

"I always think it's a bit like a masterpiece from Picasso and a copy. In the end one is worth $ 30 million and is a magnificent treasure while the other is a worthless duplicate," said Stephen Lussier of De Beers.

While the aim of Apollo Diamond and Gemesis Corp is to supply diamonds as a base material for the next generation of computer processors, neither has been deterred from entering the gemstones market. Both companies say their products will be properly labelled as manufactured stones, but feel such labeling will not put off bargain-hunting consumers.

"We asked many women whether they would prefer a four-carat synthetic diamond or a two-carat natural diamond, if the characteristics, the features and the chemical composition of both were the same," said Gemesis Corp's Carter Clarke. "I've never had anyone say they wouldn't take the big one."

GRAPHIC: Robert Linares, left, and Bryant Linares run Apollo Diamonds, whose 'fake' stones don't look much until they're cut, top;Marilyn Monroe sang that diamonds are a best friend, but fashion followers fear that ersatz stones will make the real things lose their sparkle

LOAD-DATE: September 22, 2003
What do you all think? Do you feel the same way about synthetic diamonds as Ceril Campbell says girls do?

In any event, breaking the cartel may be a good thing.

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06-10-2003
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I saw something about this on television too,and you really can't tell the difference

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06-10-2003
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I think it's sad that diamonds won't really be diamonds, sort of.

Otoh, the diamond industry is an extremely dirty business. I think human lives and ethics comes first so I'm all for synthetic ones! I don't like real ones anyway, because of all the exploitation and shadiness.

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19-11-2003
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When I think of diamond smuggling, I think of poor countries like Sierra Leone that are dominated by diamond smuggling rebels. I wonder if we could make diamonds that were just as good if it would improve the situation or make it worse

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20-11-2003
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oh wow
but wont this lead to fake diamond crime?

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20-11-2003
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Tests will no doubt become developed to test for these grown diamonds (it has always been possible to make diamonds though: stick a lump of carbon in a very hot pressure chamber). No-one has ever been able to copy a Stradivarius, not even with a scientific dissection of a real one - it's the natural flaws that make it perfect.

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20-11-2003
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I personally think that there is something timeless and romantic about a true diamond.

And in the case of, a larger fake one, or a smaller real one....


Real one.

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21-11-2003
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I'm with Honey on this one.

I perfer a real diamond to one that was grown in a factory.

Especially when it comes to engagement rings, I don't care about the size of the diamond I want something simple and elegant that my boyfriend spent a lot of time picking out.

If they start selling these synthetic diamonds then the value of our real diamonds will go down and there is no longer a status associated with diamonds.

Russia (je pense) has the largest supply of diamonds. If they decide to become "ungreedy" and dump massive amounts of diamonds into jewerly stores around the world, they become a dime a dozen, lose their value, and no one will care for diamonds.

I believe that part of the charm of a diamond is its "rareity".

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