Thursday, May 24, 2012

Synthetic Diamonds


Synthetic or substitute diamonds are not new. This type of “diamond” or a look alike has been around for years. Cubic Zirconia and Mossanite are substitutes that are reasonably priced, good looking and popular. The problem isn’t a diamond substitute; it’s not being told that the diamond is a substitute or synthetic. For years it was easy to tell the difference between a cubic zirconia and a diamond, this includes Mossanite that is a good look alike but can be differentiated from the real deal. Synthetic diamonds are grown in a lab where the conditions are similar to nature and can produce a nearly flawless diamond. This diamond is chemically the same and has the same brilliance and hardness of a real diamond. The cost is much lower than mining and of course under control conditions the outcome is essentially ensured.



In truth, a more descriptive name of synthetic diamonds should be lab created, or lab grown or something that indicates that it was not naturally formed. A naturally formed diamond is of course much more valuable. Recently IGI (International Gemological Institute) has discovered 600 synthetic colorless diamonds that were submitted for grading. The lab was able to figure out that the diamonds were synthetic and told the hapless and probably highly disappointed diamond dealer who was reported to have paid natural diamond prices, bummer. The problem for the dealer was he had paid natural diamond prices for something that wasn’t real. If the diamond wholesaler knew the diamonds were synthetic, then that’s fraud, if not, the question becomes “Where did the fraud begin?”



Experienced diamond dealers are being hoodwinked because these synthetics are so good that they cannot be distinguished from a natural diamond with a loupe or microscope, standard tools for examining diamonds in a retail store. There are other methods to determine authenticity but for now they are quite expensive and out of reach for most small to medium sized retailers. The real shame is how the creator of these diamonds is now selling them in greater quantities thereby eroding confidence in the diamond market. It is unfortunate but there has always been a modicum of fraud associated with the jewelry industry, mostly because unscrupulous retailers are trying to make a quick buck. If this synthetic diamond debacle continues, jewelry retailers may develop the same reputation as used car salesmen, not a good thing.



Jewelry retailers have reputations to maintain. No one is willing to purchase jewelry from a dealer who may be selling something less than what they state. This will definitively put a crimp in the jewelry business which has been hit by the recession pretty hard. After all, if you have a tighter budget what is going to get cut first, food or jewelry? Although sometimes I think I would be willing to forgo a meal or two for something really spectacular. Ultimately we will have to see how this all plays out. It will be interesting to find out who started the fraud and how it all came about; it may have been a simple misunderstanding, yeah, right! Hopefully this recent problem doesn’t damage the reputation of retail jewelers as the economy improves and consumers come shopping for sparkly things and baubles.

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