Why Lab-Grown Diamonds Are a Massive Scam!

LB STAFF SPOTLIGHT
March 11, 2020
Why Are Anniversary Rings So Special?
March 12, 2020

Over
the past few years, lab-grown diamonds have received a lot of hype and
notoriety. If you google them, it appears that these artificial gems are fine.But
the Federal Trade Commission had to intervene. And the idea was to protect you
from misleading diamond advertising. The story appeared in Forbes and USA Today,
offering a painful truth about synthetic diamonds.The concern is that it’s impossible for the untrained eye to discern lab-grown diamonds from the real deal. And there are more than a few people who were late to figure out they’d made a costly mistake. But you’re not going to be one of them.The biggest concern associated with lab-grown diamonds is their resell rate. See below.Short History of Lab-Grown DiamondsIn
the late 18th century, scientists discovered that diamonds are pure carbon.
This prompted them to start developing methods to grow diamonds under
artificial conditions.This
idea was so compelling that it inspired H.G. Wells to write a short story
entitled “The Diamond Maker”. A few years before Wells’ story, James Ballantyne
Hannay and Frederic Henri Moissan were actively trying to do it.By
today’s standards, Hannay’s and Moissan’s method was crude, to say the least.
Within a crucible furnace, they heated charcoal to more than 3,500°F together
with iron. Then, they cooled the iron to create the pressure needed for diamond
creation.This first experiment flopped. But it motivated others to try their luck with the process. But it wasn’t until 1926 before there was any real breakthrough. Be that as it may, the process as we know it today was developed in late-1954.This
was when General Electric (GE) issued an announcement that they had the
technology. But even this account isn’t without its fair share of ill repute.
ASEA, the Swedish utility company, claimed to have developed the process in
1953.Yet,
ASEA kept it a secret until well into the 1980s. At that time, IIjin Diamonds,
a Korean competitor of ASEA and GE, came onto the scene. But it turned out that
the Korean company abused GE’s trade secret. A former employee stole the
technology and shared it with IIjin Diamonds.However,
GE was the first to introduce artificial gem quality. This technology came in
1971 and is still the primary technique to lab-grow diamonds.How Are
Synthetic Diamonds Grown?GE
developed the High-Pressure High-Temperature (HPHT) process. It aimed to
emulate natural processes and synthesize diamonds. This technique involves
using seeds from natural diamonds. And special machines reach temperatures of
4,712°F to mimic the heat that helps diamonds grow.In
general, the machines need to run for about a week to yield a 1-carat diamond.
During the early years, the lab-grown diamonds were of poor quality. The gems
were yellow and brown. This was because they got contaminated with nitrogen and
nickel.But
adding titanium or aluminum allowed the manufacturers to produce pure white
diamonds. And if boron gets added, diamond laboratories get blue gemstones.All
the talk about metals and chemical substances alone is enough to put most people
off. But, the story doesn’t end there. You need to understand that
manufacturers use an enormous amount of energy.Plus,
the manufacturers can manipulate the diamond’s color and increase its price. However,
faint hints of the original color are still visible. And it’s not that hard for
a professional to spot them. In addition, this de-coloring of diamonds affects
their clarity and weight.The interesting thing is that natural diamond seeds need to be of high-quality. Usually, the manufacturer uses the VVS diamonds. This is because extreme temperature and heat may affect the gemstone. The inclusions may become unstable and make the diamonds explode.What Does GIA Say About HPHT Diamonds?Over
the course of ten years, GIA closely examined HPHT
diamonds. In 2017, the organization published one of the
most comprehensive studies to date.It’s
becoming increasingly difficult to tell artificial diamonds from natural.
According to GIA, the manufacturing process has become quite sophisticated. And
companies are now able to produce even fancy-color
diamonds of high clarity.Adding
fuel to the fire, Chinese companies have been mass-producing synthetic
diamonds. And they’ve managed to get stones larger than 10 carats when cut. If,
there is a silver lining.GIA
determined that all lab-grown diamonds have an odd fluorescence
pattern. When subjected to imaging instruments,
artificial diamonds show odd patterns. These aren’t the same as natural
diamonds of the same clarity and color.Different
Types of Lab-Grown DiamondsThis ring features a genuine (non lab-grown) diamondNot
all lab-grown diamonds are equal. And this write-up has already touched upon
the HPHT diamonds. Now is the time to take a closer look at this type and other
available options.You
need to understand that there are two major categories. They’re stimulant and
cultured diamonds. The gemstones that belong to each category have specific
properties. Here’s what you need to know.Cultured
DiamondsSo
far, the article has covered cultured diamonds only. And HPHT artificial
gemstones belong to this category. The key thing is that cultured diamonds come
with a unique number, to limit potential abuses.HPHT DiamondsYou
already know about the manufacturing process. And the article discussed the
perceived clarity of these artificial creations. The article didn’t mention
that there are three different presses in the process.Bar
press is usually used for gemstone-quality synthetic diamonds. It contains
outer and inner anvils that apply enormous hydraulic pressure. Belt press might
also be used for gemstones. But this tool is somewhat inferior and it’s often
used for growing industrial diamonds.The
cubic press is there to create a diamond powder for industrial purposes. And
the press has six anvils that generate enough pressure to attain the powder.CVD (Chemical Vapor Deposition) DiamondsCVD
is an incredibly complex process to generate artificial gemstones,
semiconductors, and optics.This
method utilizes super-pure carbon-rich gasses like methane. The gas gets heated
in a controlled chamber until it completely breaks apart. This allows the
carbon atoms to break away and fall into a diamond substrate.Over
time, the layers of carbon atoms build up and this generates a crude diamond
crystal. To put things in perspective, it might take up to two and a half
months to grow a gemstone-quality diamond.In
the past decade, the CVD process has been improved and modified. So, there are
now four different variations.LPCVD – Low-Pressure CVDUHVCVD – Ultra-High Vacuum CVDPECVD – Plasma-Enhanced Chemical Vapor
DepositionMPCVD – Microwave Plasma Vapor DepositionBut,
none of the CVD variants is superior to other lab-grown diamonds.Simulant
DiamondsAs
suggested by the name, this category is inferior to the rest. The diamonds
aren’t made from the same way as CVD or HPHT. But it’s still tricky to tell
these from the real deal.Anyway,
simulant diamonds usually include white sapphires, zircon, and even cut glass.
And there are three different sub-categories of simulants.Cubic
Zirconia SimulantsThese
are the
least durable in the bunch and the cheapest as well.
They’re made from zirconium oxide. And it might be possible for the untrained
eye to spot a zirconia simulant.Diamond Nexus
SimulantsThe
main element of nexus simulants is carbon. But these artificial gemstones also
contain other ingredients. Unlike zirconia, they’re durable and have an
outstanding lifetime guarantee. But this doesn’t make them superior to their
natural counterparts.Moissanite
Lab-Created GemstonesRemember
Henri Moissan, one of the scientists that started it all? These lab-grown
diamonds owe their name to him.To grow moissanite, manufacturers use silicon carbide. The final product is very strong, hence the high price tag. Moissanites also look different compared to other simulants.Lab-Grown vs Natural
Diamonds – Price ComparisonThe
main allure of lab-grown diamonds is that they’re up to 40% less expensive. But
what are the actual prices?The
price actually depends on the artificial diamond’s 4Cs. The market trends and
other external factors also add or subtract from the price. But for the
purposes of this article, it’s best to compare natural vs man-made diamonds of
the same 4Cs.Say
the cut is excellent and the two gemstones are of color G
and VS2 clarity. Assume they’re round and measure about 6.63mm x 6.68mm x
4.14mm. That said, some artificial diamonds might be 0.1% to 0.3% bigger, but
that’s irrelevant for the price.However,
the price difference is huge. At the time of writing, the natural diamond of
this quality may set you back close to $8,000. And the lab-grown alternative is
around $4,000.But
the main question is if the artificial diamonds are worth your money?Artificial
Diamonds – The Resell ValueArtificial diamonds’ popularity spiked in the early 2000s. But nobody really wants to buy them anymore. And one of the main reasons is the volatile resell value.This is one of the most compelling reasons to keep far away from artificial diamonds. Jewelers and dealers don’t want to buy artificial diamonds! Some vendors will agree to buy back the diamonds that they sell, but other than that, no one wants to buy them!This single fact makes lab-diamonds effectively worthless.Recently there have been a few companies that claim to “buy lab-diamonds from the public”, but one look at the terms and conditions makes it clear that they are not serious buyers.In
all frankness, experts haven’t settled on the long-term value of these gemstones.
But it’s safe to assume that the value is nowhere near that of natural
diamonds. To get a better idea, it’s best to draw from USA
Today’s 2019 article on the topic.The
article recounts a Manhattan
jeweler’s story when he encountered a pair of rubies.
A customer who paid upwards of $30,000 for the gemstones came to the shop for a
second opinion.As
it turned out, the rubies were synthetic gems and nowhere near the five-figure
price. It was obvious that the customer had been conned. But even if she paid
the real price, the gems would surely depreciate in value.This
is because top-quality lab diamonds are new in the market. More alarmingly, new
manufacturers keep coming to the market and flooding it with their product.
Then, there’s the process itself.It
takes up to 3.3 billion years for nature to grow a diamond. The processes in
Earth’s crust are very hard to replicate. This is despite all the advances in
chemical engineering. So, it doesn’t take an expert to figure out why the price
is going to drop even further.First,
the digest manufacturing of up to ten weeks can’t yield the same result as 3.3
billion years of pressure and heat. But it can surely saturate the market, thus
decreasing the value.In
a nutshell, the more lab-grown diamonds there are, the less valuable they are.Light at the
End of the TunnelThe
good news is that the abundant supply of artificial gemstones is good for
natural diamonds.As
you already know, there’s a limited supply of natural diamonds. And those that
are of excellent quality are even rarer. Mix in the steady flow of cheap
knock-offs, and natural diamonds will surely be more expensive in the future.Due
to this, it is much wiser to spend your hard-earned cash on the real deal.
There are great
natural stones for $4,000. And if you’re willing to spend upwards
of $20,000,
you can get some really stunning bling.Some
would argue that size does matter when it comes to diamonds. And yes, heavier
pieces are more expensive, but there’s more to it than just carats.The
rule is, it’s better to settle for a smaller gem, then opt for what’s
essentially a big piece of condensed carbon.Are There Any
Pros of Lab-Grown Diamonds?The quick answer is no. There aren’t any pros of the lab-grown diamonds for the jewelry industry. However, they are great for other industrial purposes and should remain in that realm.The
thing that initially lured people to synthetic diamonds is the price. But it
was misleading advertising that made them popular. And it’s not hard to find
vendors that tout artificial diamonds as of unrivaled quality.Again,
is the stone you get in ten weeks the same as the stone you get in three
billion years? Of course not, and most people understand that. But there is a
catch.Diamond
manufacturers abuse the increased awareness of blood diamonds. And mining
received some bad press because of inhumane conditions. To hook shoppers, they
claim the stones are sustainable and conflict-free.As
this is one of the most hotly debated topics, it pays to delve further into it.The Federal
Trade Commission RulingsIn
2018, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) updated
the regulations. These dictate the appropriate language
to describe diamonds.Vendors
and manufacturers mustn’t label artificial gemstones like diamonds. A diamond’s
description must be clear on its origin. In the meantime, GIA has been clear
when issuing certificates.For
example, there’s a big HPHT label before the description of the diamond to
prevent any abuse. But there is another thing that sparked FTC’s concern. Most
manufactures failed to prove that their diamonds are sustainable and
conflict-free.Okay,
they don’t come from war zones. But manufacturing has still a long way to go.
The industry needs stricter control to meet all the safety standards. On the
bright side, there are companies that actively try to improve.If
the processes still involve enormous energy, chemical vapors, and chemical
deposition. This might have a devastating impact on the local communities and
the eco-system. It’s the primary reason FTC warned against claims like
sustainable, eco-friendly, etc.Peculiar
Facts About Lab-Grown DiamondsMost
lab-grown diamonds have the same chemical and physical features as natural
gemstones. That is, they consist of a carbon crystal structure, but their
properties aren’t the same. Remember, GIA found a strange fluorescence pattern.All
top-quality artificial diamonds get type IIa rating. And this is misleading for
two reasons. Out of all the natural diamonds, only less than 2% belong to this
category. Then, close inspection reveals some alarming differences between the
two.Be
that as it may, diamond manufacturing came close to two million carats in 2019.
And that number is set to increase more than tenfold by 2026. As a result, the
long-term value of artificial gemstones will surely drop.Some
vendors try to capitalize on the fact that the same authorities certify all
diamonds. But this doesn’t make them more valuable. Quite the contrary, the
certification is there to stress these are artificial.Can You
Identify a Lab-Grown Diamond?Unfortunately,
no you can’t. Artificial diamonds have certain inclusions that are not
clear even under a loupe.Jewelers
and gemologists use special equipment to determine a diamond’s origin. But,
some lab-grown diamonds have inclusions that may appear under a loupe. If you
need a lot of training to discern between the two.To
be exact, the inclusions have different patterns and structures. Plus, light
reflection and refraction is different. And it takes an expert eye to spot the
culprit.Natural
Diamonds Are Forever!A natural French-cut diamond in a platinum mountingWhen
you think about it, all natural diamonds are unique. The time it takes to yield
one such gemstone adds a lot of value to the stone and it’s not likely to go
down in the future. But why are lab-grown diamonds a scam?The
answer lies in a combination of factors. First, it’s very hard for you to tell
if a diamond is natural or not. Then, pushy vendors have been promoting
artificial diamonds as better than real ones. Plus, more than a few people got
conned.In
the end, you should never go for a lab-grown diamond, no matter how blingy it
appears. And when in doubt, always ask for a GIA certificate or a second
opinion.
SOURCE: https://www.estatediamondjewelry.com/lab-grown-diamonds-scam/

Comments are closed.