Looking back into what may seem the “forgotten past”, lab-grown diamonds are nothing new and have been posing a threat to the natural diamond industry for over a century.
Dealers in diamonds are frequently asked by their customers if the process of making artificial diamonds has yet met with such success as to depreciate the genuine ones in value.
Diamonds have been produced synthetically, but the stones made in that way have been so small and have cost so much to produce that there would be no economic advantage in making them large enough to market, even if a way to do it were found.
Dr. J.W. Hershey, McPherson College, Kan., is the 1935 claimant of the title of artificial diamond-maker. He apparently uses a method similar to that of [scientist Henri] Moissan and states the product to be the size of a pin-head.
For years, jewelers in their worst nightmares have dreamed that someone would make diamonds in the laboratory and rob them of the mainstay of their business.
Now at last it has happened. No intelligent person doubted for a moment that the General Electric company had really succeeded in producing the real thing when their announcement was made late in February.
The announcement put the diamond trade in a turmoil for several weeks after the initial publicity. General Electric handled the publicity in a way that was calculated to do a minimum amount of damage to the jewelry trade.
Man has made cuttable, gem-quality diamonds. The dramatic announcement was made May 28 in New York City by the General Electric Company. Reporters were shown diamond crystals—clear white, blue, and deep yellow, ranging from 60 points to 1.10 carats.
Dr. [Kurt] Nassau closed his talk [at the American Gem Society Conclave] with a question that has nagged many a thoughtful jeweler like a nightmare: Will it continue to be possible to distinguish synthetic gems from the natural?
The new General Electric synthetic diamonds are “beauties,” says a GE researcher who headed the project, but they are not likely to wind up in diamond dealers’ parcels; they cost more than naturals of comparable quality.
Synthetic diamond jewelry is as predictable as an increase in rough diamond prices. We can predict it will happen, we just don’t know when.
Typically, synthetic diamonds have been grown using high pressure/high temperature presses. However, synthetic diamonds grown by [chemical vapor deposition] techniques, which do not use high pressure, have up until now produced only microscopic polycrystalline industrial quality crystals.
The trade’s main concern is that man-made stones will find their way into the normal stream of commerce without disclosure.
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