Cut-price Diamonds! Largest Lab-Grown Diamond 30-40% cheaper than Equivalent Extracted from Diamond Mine

31 Dec

The World’s Biggest Man-made Diamond: Technology that Could Disrupt 2015

diamond

That polishes up pretty nice, with a few months’ elbow grease…

The announcement on 30 December that company-to-watch Pure Grown Diamonds had cultivated the world’s largest laboratory-grown diamond, a monster of a rock at 3.04 carats, threatens to seriously shake up the diamond mining industry.

Pure Grown Diamonds markets itself as the ethical alternative to mined diamonds, as well as claiming to be 30-40% cheaper. President and CEO Lisa Bissell says, “Pure Grown Diamonds are the new…conflict-free option for shoppers seeking value; for consumers concerned about the environmental impact of mining; for people troubled by the history of human rights violations and greed-motivated violence in mining regions.”

Different Cuts and Colours

In fact it is difficult to state with certainty what the market price for mined diamonds is because it varies depending on the cut, clarity and the suppliers themselves, who charge different premiums depending on the value-added services provided: a skilled cut and polish significantly enhances the stone’s value. Rough diamonds are rarely sold before they are cut.

In fact, they are the one commodity which has no standard benchmark or spot price, unlike gold which is valued by the ingot. For this reason, the one attempt to foster a market for diamond derivative contracts in 1972 was a less than sparkling success. Could using a tightly controlled laboratory process lead to the standardisation in size and quality to make diamond derivatives possible?

Probably the most popular cut is the ‘round modern brilliant cut. Jewellery and rare collectibles vendors Chard at www.24carat.co.uk state that For a 1 carat round modern brilliant cut diamond, D colour, IF (internally flawless) clarity, well proportioned, well made, we would estimate a retail value of £26,000; and at that quality, you should expect to get a certificate from an internationally recognised gem laboratory.”

Not All Diamonds Were Created Equal

The lab-grown diamonds are predominantly E-H colour – the highest colourless rating being D, and progressing on a sliding spectrum of quality through the alphabet down to Z, which is an impure yellow. The level of clarity is either VVS1 or VVS2, which according to the Gemological Institute of America’s grading system means ‘Very Very Small Inclusions’, virtually invisible to the naked eye, and just one grade below ‘Internally Flawless’.

The geological definition of an inclusion is of “a solid fragment, liquid globule, or pocket of gas enclosed in a mineral or rock.” The gemmological definition also incorporates features intrinsic to the gemstone which impede the free movement of light through the stone. These can include fissures running from the surface into the stone; and a change in crystal growth direction (called ‘twinning’), which regions absorb or refract light in a way which can reduce the stone’s brilliance.

The knowledgeable experts at www.24carat.co.uk explain that: “These clouds of microscopic inclusions can reduce the passage of light through a stone so severely that the stone looks “dead”, with no brilliance or fire whatsoever. Such stones usually have a slightly cloudy look to the naked eye.”

The biggest laboratory-cultivated ‘Pure Grown Diamond’ is certified by the International Gemological institute. It is ‘I’ colour, described as “near colourless”, and of SI1 clarity, the higher grade of the two ‘Small Inclusions’ classification, but below the VVS1 and VVS2 classifications. It is on sale at www.PureGrownDiamonds.com for the bargain price of $23,012.

Instructions for Growing A Diamond Seed (Don’t Try This at Home)

Pure Grown Diamonds Chief Technical Officer, Dr. Devi Shanker Misra, PhD, invented and patented the process he claims is “about to change the landscape of the mining and jewelry industries.” The company prefers the term ‘cultivated’ rather than ‘synthetic’ which it claims the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has decreed is “misleading as it implies that such stones are imitations.” High heat and pressure, which form diamonds in the Earth’s crust, are replicated in a Microwave Plasma Chemical Vapor Deposition chamber, where a small carbon seed takes only one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half months to grow a diamond.

The company elucidates the process, which is for the most part carried out at its Singapore sister company IIa Technologies’ “state-of-the-art facilities”:

“A diamond seed is placed inside a low-pressure microwave chamber. Hydrogen and methane gases are introduced. A microwave generator pumps energy into the chamber that ignites a glowing plasma ball. Carbon molecules rain on the seed. Crystallization begins. The process is completed within 42 to 70 days….The diamond is cut with a laser, polished and then certified.”

The diamonds are all type IIa, meaning they have neither nitrogen nor boron impurities – which you would expect from a lab production process. This does mean that it is not yet possible to produce those coloured and ‘fancy’ or ‘vivid’ coloured diamonds which are so highly valued by collectors, and whose brilliant hue derives from chemical or structural impurities. Perhaps this could be the next development in synthetic – sorry, cultivated – diamond production.

How much does a Carat weigh? Some Diamond Trivia…

1. Carat Weight

A carat, as applied to gemstones means a weight of 1/5th (0.2) grams. It is conventionally divided into 100 parts, called points, so that a half carat stone weighs 50 points, which is written 0.50 carats. (See Carat)

2. Clarity (see above)

3. Cut

Cut means three different things. First it relates to the basic shape of the stone, the most popular being the Round Modern Brilliant Cut. There are variations of the brilliant cut which are pear shape, oval, long and pointy (marquise or navette), heart, princess. Other cuts include square, octagonal (emerald cut), baguette (long thin oblong), rose, single or eight cut. (See Diamond Cuts).

3. Colour

GIA UK Traditional CIBJO Colour Our Comments
D Finest White Exceptional White + Colourless
E Finest White Exceptional White Virtually Colourless
F Fine White Rare White + Virtually Colourless
G Fine White Rare White Virtually Colourless
H White White Virtually Colourless
I Commercial White Slightly Tinted White Very Faint Colour
J Top Silver Cape Slightly Tinted White Very Faint Colour
K TSC to Silver Cape Tinted White Faint Colour
L Silver Cape Tinted White Faint Colour
M Light Cape Tinted Increasing Colour
N Light Cape Tinted Increasing Colour
O Cape Tinted Increasing Colour
P Cape Tinted Increasing Colour
Q Cape Tinted Increasing Colour
R Cape to Dark Cape Tinted Increasing Colour
S-Z Dark Cape Tinted Deep Colour
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