Have you ever heard of synthetic diamonds? If so, you might wonder how diamonds could even be “synthetic,” and what does that mean? Does that mean they are fake? Are they even diamonds?
In reality, synthetic diamonds are man-made diamonds that are created through high pressure, high temperature machines in laboratories. Originally, the technology of synthetic diamonds only produced very small diamonds that were not gem quality and were mainly used for industrial purposes. People began investing in synthetic diamond technology, and as the technology advanced, the synthetic diamonds have become larger and higher in quality. There are those that hope to disrupt the existing diamond industry by flooding the market with synthetic diamonds. But what does this really mean?
Although synthetic diamonds are chemically the same as natural ones, they do not hold the same rarity or value as natural diamonds. The very nature of why diamonds have been alluring and valuable throughout history is due to their rarity and the fact that only a certain number are formed beneath the earth’s surface over billions of years. Even if you can buy a synthetic diamond for a slightly lower cost, you will never be able to resell it for that amount because synthetic diamonds hold no more value than a piece of crystal. I like to think of synthetic diamonds as a knock-off Picasso painting. It might look as beautiful as a real Picasso, but it does not hold even close to the same value as a real one. When you buy a natural diamond you are investing your money in something that will retain its value; when you buy a synthetic you are just spending your money on something sparkly that will be worth nothing down the road.
Furthermore, people have been trying to market synthetic diamonds as “ethical” because you know that they have not been mined. However, when you buy and/or promote synthetics you are actually putting some of the most impoverished people in the world out of jobs. Over seven million people worldwide, artisan diamond diggers and those they support, depend on the sale of natural diamonds for their livelihood. The ethical thing to do is not to buy synthetics as an alternative to natural diamonds, but to support the diamond diggers and fair trade natural diamond market.
Most, if not all, diamonds that come into the U.S. since 2003 are ethically mined. No diamond can come into the U.S. without passing through the Kimberly process. The Kimberly process was specifically put into place to prevent blood diamonds from coming into the market. No ethical diamond seller would ever sell a diamond that had not gone through the Kimberly process (this is something generally acknowledged on the invoice). So by buying a synthetic diamond you are taking away jobs from people who rely on ethical mining to survive.
Also, synthetic diamonds can be identified by GIA. Synthetic diamonds have unnatural growth patterns, so if you buy a synthetic diamond the GIA certificate will indicate that it is not natural. Make sure that whenever you buy a diamond it comes with a GIA certificate to guarantee that it is a natural diamond and not a synthetic.
Finally, while buying a synthetic diamond might get you a larger size, at the end of the day you are just buying a rock. When you buy a natural diamond, you are investing in a piece of history that will hold it value for generations