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Articles from DIAMOND JEWELLERY (983 Articles)

Don't hate man-made diamonds

Regarding the great man-made diamond debate, let’s take a quick trip down memory lane back to the 1960s and 70s.

Sure we had The Beatles and flower children but it was also a time when gemstone manufacturers, including Linde, Chatham and Gilson, learned to produce synthetic emerald that cost heaps more than other synthetics like ruby and sapphire.

These man-made emeralds were complicated and expensive to make and, in their day, were protected by patents. The products were embraced by traditional jewellers – the high price-point helping to give them a level of prestige – and had a genuine place in the market. The manufacturers created a strong brand story; the message being that this emerald was a wonderful modern marvel of science and technology.

Fast-forward to today, and the proposition is similar. We now have expensive man-made diamonds; however, it’s like we’re living in a parallel universe. Instead of being open to the idea of selling man-made diamonds and treating them as a legitimate product (as we did emeralds), there’s a witch hunt at play.

Why is there an industry perception that man-made diamonds are similar to cubic zirconia? They are far more expensive and complicated to produce than other man-made gemstones and, as a premium product, are better quality than most of the crap offered in some chain stores. It costs just as much to cut and polish a man-made diamond as it does a natural diamond. So why are we telling consumers that these man-made diamonds are synthetic, fraudulent products? The only result from that line of thinking will be more fakery and cheating. The stories about undisclosed diamonds are getting stale but what more could be expected?

People who invest in diamond manufacturing equipment do so to sell the product, and if there is no niche in the market that will accept them honestly, then they will be sold to fraudsters. If you, the reader, refuse to work with them, it’s pretty much a no-brainer that people are going to find ways to cheat and move these products.

I should mention that I don’t stock man-made diamonds because my staff have made it clear they will not sell them. It’s difficult to persuade sellers and consumers to buy man-made diamonds without a positive marketing story, which leads me to my next point.

How do we rectify the issue? Firstly, there needs to be a strong branding strategy akin to the Linde, Chatham and Gilson-branded gemstones. There should be niches of the jewellery industry that rightly or wrongly promote these stones to the likes of tree- huggers and greenies – those who disagree with taking resources from the ground.

This is one of the marketing strategies that is and will be used successfully – although I would add a caveat that I don’t at this point have strong evidence to say that man-made diamonds are actually more environmentally friendly than those that are mined. The energy costs of production are quite hefty.

The only clever and successful marketers for man-made stones thus far are the rogues and lying cheats who promise to take the ashes of a loved one or dead pet and turn that into a man-made diamond. Sorry, but that man-made diamond doesn’t contain one trace of the deceased – carbon is actually turned into carbon dioxide when a dead body is burned. Anyway, regardless of their fraudulent practices, at least the ‘deceased-to-diamond’ is a successful marketing strategy!

That aside, readers might have noticed that not once have I used the terms ‘synthetic’ or ‘laboratory/lab-grown’ diamonds. I prefer to use the term man-made diamonds for a number of reasons, not least of which being that that’s exactly what they are. Making these stones is quite an accomplishment by man.

Equally I do not like the term ‘lab-grown’ because diamonds are not grown in laboratories; they are grown in factories. Lab-grown gives them special credence; it’s like saying they are better than anything else because they were made in the laboratory.

As the editor of this magazine likes to say: once upon a time people used moleskins to keep dry but then along came Gore-Tex and, well, the rest is history.

The situation with diamonds is somewhat similar. First we had natural diamonds, and now that moissanite is out of patent, silicon carbide has arrived, which is harder than ruby and sapphire and has better optical properties than diamond. Man-made diamonds are marvels of modern science and deserve respect. Go and sell to those tree-huggers.

Name: Garry Holloway
Business: Holloway Diamonds
Position: managing director
Location: Melbourne, VIC
Years in the industry: 41

Ellendale Diamonds Australia

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