I saw the cover of the latest issue of wired, and had to pick it up. Turns out there’s a very interesting article on the emergence of synthetic diamonds— that is, diamonds that are grown in a lab, but are physically and chemically indistinguishable from diamonds that are mined. This is not your father’s cubic zirconium.
Looks like in addition to the industrial applications (computer chips on incredibly heat-resistant diamond substrate instead of silicon, for instance), they’re going to be going after the DeBeers cartel by selling the little buggers as jewlery. Of course, DeBeers has been artificially inflating the price of diamonds for years by hoarding the enormous suplus they’ve mined (not to mention building demand for the not-so-rare gems with an awe-inspiring marketing blitz), and they seem none too pleased that they’re going to have to compete against diamonds that cost about five bucks a caret to make.
I mean, really— for the average joe who wants to buy his girlfriend something shiny, is he going to buy a DeBeers certified diamond just because it’s mined instead of manufactured? If it’s just as sparkly, who’s to know? It’ll be interesting to see how this one shakes out.