Lab-created Cultured Diamonds and Their Impact

I have been invited to talk at the CJCI (costume Jewelry Collectors International Conference) in October 2015 in Providence Rhode Island.

I chose the topic ‘One man’s treasure…….. Across time, the changing perceptions of value.’

This basically means that I’m looking at the history of ‘fake’ from early Egyptian synthesized** emeralds to contemporary lab-created cultured diamonds. **Synthesized – looks like a natural stone but with different chemical makeup.

I have been toying with the concepts of the cultured diamond and its place in ‘fine’ vs. ‘costume’ jewelry.

Firstly what is a lab-created cultured diamond?

It is a nature identical synthesized diamond with the same unique structure of carbon atoms, so it has all the same characteristics as a natural diamond it is just that it has been created above ground in the same manner just in a much shorter time period. The same natural inclusions for example boron will make it blue and nitrogen will make it yellow. On a more technical note, the nitrogen absorbs the blue which then makes the diamond appear yellow – the marvel of nature!

A brief history of lab-created cultured diamonds is that synthetic (man made replica of a natural material) diamonds for commercial purposes have been manufactured since 1954 and today several tons for industry are produced.

The first Gem quality diamond was produced by The General Electric Company of America in 1970, this was and still is a very long and costly process. 

Now for me the question is: What will the impact of the cultured diamonds have on the diamond market?

When cultured pearls were introduced onto the market in 1928 the price of natural pearls dropped very dramatically only to recover in value in the last several years. The absolute contrast is to see the impact of synthetic rubies and emeralds which have barely affected the prices of the natural gemstones. In contrast to these examples most of the cultured diamonds produced to date are fancy colours, the price of natural fancy diamonds have increased in value between three and five times annually showing that the markets are valuing the natural over the synthetic diamond. 

So like many of the luxury brands today is imitation the highest form of flattery or is the price of the original so much more valued as the copies become better?

To produce cultured diamonds is a very costly process and as such are marketed at around 70% of the price of their natural counterparts. The benefits to cultured diamonds include the absolute knowledge of source so no conflict, minimal environmental destruction and all the same benefits of the aesthetics and the long wearing abilities of natural diamonds.

So…. Can? Will? Lab-created cultured diamonds ever be considered to be costume jewelry or being synthetic does it and will it always have a higher perceived value?

-Kevin Friedman, Frankli Wild


Eric Bruton 1971
Chilton Book co
ISBN 100801967899

Visit the Costume Jewelry Collectors site for more information about the CJCI Conference and the guest speakers 

Visit the Cultured Diamond Foundation for more about lab-created cultured diamonds.