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Diamonds

Entry 144, on 2005-03-17 at 18:38:22 (Rating 1, Science)

I recently listened to an interview of someone from a company called Genesis who make artificial diamonds in a high tech lab. It was quite an interesting subject, so I thought I might share some of it in this blog.

The technology came from Russian space program research. The product, which they call "cultured diamonds" are almost impossible to distinguish from those created naturally in the Earth's mantle. The process involves high pressure and temperatures which simulate the conditions where natural diamonds occur.

When the NewsWeek magazine took samples to diamond dealers, they couldn't tell the difference. The company now inscribes a tiny identification number on the diamond using a laser so that they can't be confused with the "real thing".

They currently make coloured diamonds which are extremely rare in nature. For example, only 40 carats of the 40 million carats of diamonds produced in Australia each year are pink. Other colours produced are blue, yellow and red. It wasn't clear whether uncoloured diamonds were harder to produce, or were just worth less so not worth making. There was also no mention of how much cheaper artificial diamonds were than natural ones.

Of course, diamonds are used for a lot more than just decorative jewelry. Industry uses them, and computer semiconductors might be made this way in future, by adding boron when making them.

An interesting question is, should an artificial diamond have the same value as a natural one, if no one can tell the difference? Also, if artificial diamonds can be produced in large quantities, should we stop the expensive and environmentally unfriendly process of looking for natural ones - on average 250 tons of rock need to be mined to recover one carat of diamonds!

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Comment 2 (31) by OJB on 2005-04-26 at 21:26:33: (view earlier comments)

It was on National Radio on 17 March 2005, so you could contact them to see if they have anything. Unfortunately, I couldn't find anything there.

Link: http://www.radionz.co.nz/

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Comment 3 (76) by OJB on 2005-09-02 at 09:47:46:

To the user who tried to advertise here: Don't bother putting advertising material here because I won't authorise that type of entry for display. Thanks for your interest.

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Comment 4 (182) by abdul mannan on 2006-03-04 at 10:27:47:

I'm see the artificial because I'm interested in doing this artificial diamond business.

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Comment 5 (254) by Paul Nilsson, Gemlab on 2006-09-11 at 22:26:01:

The reason that manmade diamonds will never attain the prices of natural ones is the fact that we CAN tell them apart, and the public will ALWAYS prefer the real thing over imitations. It is not a retail jewellers job to tell the difference so that whole thing about "oohh a jeweller can't tell.." is a crock. Their job is to sell them! All the serious jewellers use gemmological labs to do the science.

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Comment 6 (255) by OJB on 2006-09-12 at 12:22:10:

Yes, that makes sense. I'm sure that with the right tests its not too hard to tell the difference. I guess the point was that the difference is small enough that those specialist tests *are* required.

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