Does the famous De Beers marketing slogan “Diamonds are Forever” apply to Brilliant Earth Lab Grown Diamonds? It is a common misconception that diamonds are the hardest substance on earth. Diamond is actually the hardest mineral substance on earth. It’s amazing how much confusion can result from the difference of one little word. The reality is that there are lots of things in the world which are much harder than diamond.
Which is why you want to insure your diamond engagement ring with somebody like Jewelers Mutual. They will insure your diamond engagement ring against accidental loss, damage, fire, and theft. But just so you know, no insurance company in the world is going insure your diamond against an intentional act, such as crushing a lab-grown diamond with a hydraulic press:
The client who sent me this video was tripping out that somebody would crush a 1.20 carat diamond. Before you get all worked up over the humanity of it all, allow me to propose a new title for this video:
The title of this video is “Crushing diamond with hydraulic press” but actually this is not a natural diamond. It is a lab-created diamond. Under those circumstances, one little word really does change everything. If you’ve read my Review of Brilliant Earth, then you know that I’m not a fan of lab-created diamonds.
Look closely at the GCAL diamond grading report pictured in the video at the 0:39 second mark, you’ll be able to see the lab report number. It’s GCAL diamond grading report number 260550045, which I looked up using GCAL Certificate Search. Here is a copy of the GCAL diamond grading report:
I took the liberty of adding red arrows to the Optical Symmetry Analysis. Each red arrows points to sections of light leakage that are visible under the table facet. One of the challenges with lab grown diamonds is that they are rarely cut to exhibit the degree of optical precision that I’m looking for. But that’s really a story for another day, let’s just focus on lab-grown diamonds for the moment.
If you’re wondering why the trade commonly refers to I-3 clarity diamonds as “dead” it is because they tend to look like crushed rock quartz. This is an I-3 clarity diamond from a file photograph. Real pretty, isn’t it? The inclusions are so plentiful that you can’t even see past them to focus upon the facet structure of the diamond. Which is all right, because it’s really not cut very well.
Light return? Forget about it… You might as well be trying to squeeze blood out of a stone. This I-3 clarity diamond is so included that very little light is actually going to pass through it. Needless to say that this I-3 clarity diamond isn’t worth very much, and it’s a natural diamond. Lab grown diamonds are worth much less than natural diamonds. Personally I don’t think they’re worth anything at all, but I’m a natural diamond kind of guy.
I was curious to know how much money just got crushed, but I can’t even find a lab created diamond from Brilliant Earth of the same quality. The minimum clarity offered on their web site is SI-2. The diamond clarity scale starts out with I-3 on the low end, then it goes up to I-2, I-1, and then SI-2 and higher. The closest option that I could find is this 1.20 carat, I-color, SI-2 clarity round, SKU #2266256. There’s no point in linking to the diamond, because B.E. scraps the diamond details pages after a diamond sells. But you can look up lab report #261320020 on GCAL for full details. Suffice to say, that the value of the lab grown diamond crushed in the video probably retailed for less than 3K.
You might be wondering if lab grown diamonds are a good solution to the conflict diamonds dilemma. Let me be perfectly blunt and say that I really don’t think that lab grown diamonds are a wise investment.
Due to advancements in diamond growing technology, the cost of producing lab-created diamonds becomes less expensive every day. This loosely translates into falling diamond prices. The cost of lab-grown diamonds being produced today may very well be lower than diamonds produced just last week.
This is good for various types of industries, which use about 1500 carats diamonds per year. In 2013, about 99% of those diamonds were lab-created. Synthetic Diamonds producer IIa Technologies of Singapore is currently cranking out more than 300,000 carats of lab grown diamonds per year!
Lower production costs and stiff competition are causing the price of synthetic diamonds to fall more and more with each passing day. This might seem like a boom to consumers shopping for a diamond engagement ring, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret. None of my friends in the diamond business are investing in lab-grown diamonds for inventory… Not one, nada, zilch, zero.
The only legitimate reason I can think of to buy a lab-grown diamond is the lower price. However, the lower price of lab-created diamonds is a Catch 22, because they depreciate in value faster than a rabbit can breed. The fact is that none of my friends in the diamond business are investing in lab grown diamonds for inventory. Rapid improvements in technology make producing lab-created diamonds less expensive every day.
There will always be companies like Brilliant Earth that are willing to sell lab-created diamonds. After all, there will always be people who are seeking an alternative to natural diamonds. Be that as it may, ask yourself why they don’t want them back-in on trade:
Brilliant Earth is proud to offer a free lifetime diamond upgrade for any loose diamond purchased from Brilliant Earth. Excluding their lab-grown diamonds.
Hmmm, now isn’t that interesting? I wonder how many people actually read the fine print before buying a lab-created diamond.
Naturally, I’ve read all the hype about diamonds grown in a laboratory being conflict-free. Truth be told, I’m good with the protection provided by the Kimberley Process and the efforts of the World Diamond Council. No system is ever going to be perfect, but things are moving in the right direction. Say what you will about the conditions in any sort of mine, the diamond industry contributes to the livelihood of approximately 10 million worldwide.
President Mogae of Botswana, June 7, 2006:
“For our people, every diamond purchase represents food on the table; better living conditions; better healthcare; safe drinking water; more roads to connect our remote communities and much more.”
Sometimes people tell me that they want a lab grown diamond because they don’t want to support any kind of conflict or bad working conditions. I totally get that, but the flip side of the coin is no working conditions, which equates to no money and starvation. My girlfriend is from Taxco, Mexico which used to be the silver capital of Mexico. It was once a booming little town where most of the people were employed by the local silver mine. Care to guess what happened when the mine closed? Her family tells me that silver mining is hard work, backbreaking, grueling, hot, sweaty, hard work… that they wish was still available to them.
Clearly you know by now that I’m not a fan of lab grown diamonds, but it’s not my place to tell you what to buy or wear. The fact that I believe lab-created diamonds to be one of the biggest consumer frauds of the 21st century is just that, my own personal belief. I think that the people manufacturing and promoting lab-grown diamonds stand to make a small fortune selling them… Being able to say that they’re sustainable and environmentally friendly makes them sound like such a wonderful alternative to natural diamonds.
Once again, I think that the difference of a word or two changes everything:
Think of the Sesame Street Song:
One of these things is not like the others… One of these things just doesn’t belong… Can you tell which thing is not like the others, by the time I finish this song?”
From a technical perspective, lab-created diamonds are synthetic. Under those circumstances, they’re never going to be real diamonds. Imagine the look on her face when you drop down on one knee and present her with a Synthetic Diamond.
Be sure to do it within the return period allocated by the vendor. After all, if she rejects your proposal, then you may want to return it. Also, remember that lab-grown diamonds are not eligible for an upgrade. Need I say more?
Todd Gray is a professional diamond buyer with 30+ years of trade experience. He loves to teach people how to buy diamonds that exhibit incredible light performance! In addition to writing for Nice Ice, Todd "ghost writes" blogs and educational content for other diamond sites. When Todd isn't chained to a desk, or consulting for the trade, he enjoys Freediving! (that's like scuba diving, but without air tanks)
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