Thursday, January 17, 2008

Man-made diamonds: a girl's new best friend?

According to an article on msn money, the answer is yes.

Most people are all too familiar with having champagne tastes on a beer budget. But when it comes to diamonds, you may be able to have it both ways.

That's because gem-quality diamonds are now being grown in laboratories in places like Sarasota, Fla., and Boston. Forget cubic zirconia and Moissanite, which are made to pass as diamonds. Lab-grown stones are the real deal. And instead of the millions of years it takes to create natural diamonds, they're grown by man in a matter of days.

"We've essentially recreated the same conditions that occur hundreds of miles below the surface," says David Hellier, president of Gemesis, the Florida company that specializes in growing colored diamonds. "After about four and a half days, we get a three-carat rough diamond. From that day forward, there's no difference between that diamond and one that comes from the ground.

"Even the Gemological Institute of America, the foremost diamond research and grading body, acknowledges that these are diamonds. "To say it's not diamond is really false," says William Boyajian, gemologist and GIA president. "It's just man-made diamond."

Truth be told, General Electric has been producing synthetic diamonds for industrial purposes for years. But until recently, creating gem-quality colorless or near-colorless diamonds that were big enough to cut was a thing of fantasy.

Consumers "can have the bling they see on the stars but at a fraction of the cost," Hellier says. Remember JLo's pink diamond engagement ring? Gemesis mostly sells yellow and orange diamonds, but is starting to offer pinks and limited quantities of blues as well.

Even to the trained, albeit naked, eye these diamonds look like the usual mined variety. "The material is beautiful," says the GIA's Boyajian. "You can't tell visually a synthetic from a natural diamond."

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