Oh la dee dah, ‘diamonds are a girl’s best friend’…BLAH BLAH BLAH

‘If you really love your fiance’, 2-3 months’ salary for a ring is a must’…OUCH

‘We have everything under control now…these aren’t blood diamonds’…you sure about that?

People have been trying for centuries to come up with a man-made gem that mimicked the diamond.  Cubic zirconia first comes to mind which yes, is bright and shiny, but for some reason has never up to par.  And then there’s Moissanite, a silicon carbide found in meteorites originally.  Today, it’s usually made in labs.  It is cheaper than a diamond, but it’s still a large purchase.  One problem with them is that they can’t make one that’s pure white , and their ‘dispersive power’ is 2 1/2 times greater than a diamond.  That’s how it dispurses light.  When it’s that much higher, the effect is sort of like a disco ball.  Some people think that’s great and even better than a diamond, and others thinks it makes it look cheap. 

Then you have synthetic diamonds.  When in 1797 it was discovered that a diamond was made solely of carbon, people have been trying to precisely replicate it.  The idea of creating a synthetic diamond, therefore, is far from a new one.  Many people have tried to do so with mixed results.  The first real successes came in the 1950’s, and the technological processes used today draw largely from the discoveries made then.

Diamond, mined or synthetic, is a mineral which has a myriad of uses because of its hardness, but since we’re talking about jewelry here, we’ll keep it at that.  There are numerous reasons why I like them synthetic diamonds, and I hope they continue to make inroads into the jewelry market.

First, they are REAL diamonds.  According to an article from www.news.com,  “consumers shouldn’t see any difference. Both mined and synthetic diamonds are chemically identical. Neither the naked eye, nor an ordinary microscope can detect the difference. Jewelers can tell with a loupe by reading a laser inscription required by the Federal Trade Commission. Otherwise, it takes high-tech equipment that analyzes the crystal structure of diamonds (like a proprietary machine De Beers has) to distinguish the difference.” 

Second, and this should matter if you have a conscience, the mining of diamonds is not exactly a pretty process.  I won’t go into the whole history, but long story short, environments have been ruined, countless lives have been lost (they’re not called ‘blood diamonds’ for nothing), people have been enslaved, countries ravaged by wars, and all for that bright shiny object.  Granted, steps have been taken to reduce these problems, but we’re not there, so we are at the mercy of what’s being reported, and who knows whether or not it’s accurate?  Mining in northern Canada has become the new big thing (and has come with even bigger prices) and made for a great show on the History Channel called “Ice Road Truckers,” but even though it’s like a tree falling in the forest with no one around, it’s still trashing the environment.

Finally, synthetic diamonds cost a fraction of what a mined diamond costs.  Two-three months’ salary?  Did you know that DeBeers came up with that as a marketing concept?  If it’s an engagement ring, use the savings for the wedding itself (which in today’s world averages $20,000), for a down payment on a house, a car, or all of the other things you’re going to need after you say “I Do.”

That’s why I’m a supporter of synthetic diamonds.  Today, there are a lot of companies out there, each with their own ‘angle.’  Because a diamond is pure carbon, they can be made from different sources, even including the ashes of a loved one or pet.  I can’t decide whether that’s an amazing way to remember them or if the whole thing is kind of creepy.  Various companies are creating diamonds of different colors and sizes previously unknown to nature.

I’ve been following this concept for about a year now, and one company, Diamond Nexus Labs (www.diamondnexuslabs.com), has really stood out to me.  They carry something for everyone, from under $150 to custom creations where the sky is the limit in cost.  You can design the jewelry piece of your dreams, and they will work closely with you to make sure it’s perfect.  They have an extensive presentation of rings, necklaces, bracelets, pendants, you name it, they can make it,and they can do it 14 carat gold to 950 grade platinum and everything in between.  It’s been great to see how their offerings have increased over a year.  Their print catalog is something to drool over, and you really do get a lot more bang for your buck.  Would you rather have a one carat mined diamond or a 2-3 carat synthetic?  Or a ring AND a matching necklace?  In a world that loves their bling bling, synthetic diamonds are there to satisfy that seemingly insatiable demand.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against mined diamonds, the people and companies who buy and sell them, or anything like that.  I received a mined diamond ring for my birthday last year; it is absolutely beautiful, and I love wearing it.  However, I think synthetic diamonds gives many people a chance to purchase what they couldn’t previously afford, I like the fact that you know 100% FOR SURE that no one died and no trees fell.  Still, the idea does make some people uncomfortable, and even though chemically they’re exactly the same.  I hope companies like Nexus Diamond Labs continue to work to eliminate that stigma, that celebrities who preach their love for the environment put their money where their mouths are, and that this can be integrated into jewelry fashion as a viable alternative.  There is room for everyone, and I hope synthetic diamond’s place continues to grow.