DURBAN - THE popularity of cultivated diamonds is set to grow exponentially, especially after the US’s Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently rehashed its definition of a diamond to recognise gems produced in laboratories.
Now, diamonds will not only be a “girl’s best friend”, but jewellery designers and technologists, especially those in the motor industry, are all revved up about lab-produced diamonds – their look, feel and ability to store data and convert nuclear energy into charge.
Cultivated diamonds are able to take on any shape or size and they can be produced in a variety of colours, including matching skin tones.
De Beers, the world’s largest diamond merchants, in the past, were firmly against man-made diamonds receiving an elevated status.
But the company has since taken the plunge and recently announced elaborate plans for their “Lightbox Jewellery” range crafted from laboratory diamonds that will be produced at De Beers’ specially set-up multimillion-dollar plant in the US.
Previously, a diamond was defined as a “natural mineral consisting essentially of pure carbon crystalised in the isometric system”.
But the FTC has since dropped the word “natural” in its definition. According to David Johnson, De Beers Group manager of media and commercial communications, the company had accepted the redefinition of diamonds because they were affiliated to the Diamond Producers Association that had okayed the change.
Johnson said they were keeping up with the times by investing in cultivated diamonds.
“We carried out some research into consumer attitudes to laboratorygrown diamond jewellery as there was a growing number of businesses selling these products in the US, the world’s largest consumer market. We found that people saw a place in the jewellery sector for these products, but that people weren’t getting what they were looking for from current laboratory-grown diamond offerings – that is, products that were fun, fashion jewellery at an accessible price point. We decided to develop an offering that would meet what consumers told us they wanted from these products, while also… completely transparent about what laboratory grown diamonds are,” he said.
Johnson said while De Beers would be pumping more than R1.2 billion into cultured diamond operations over the next four years, that investment was dwarfed by R130bn that the company earmarked for mined diamonds, over the next six years.
Anthony Matthew, the owner of Shiny Rock Polished, a leading jewellery designing company in South Africa, said many of his clients were asking about labgrown diamonds because they were manufactured through replicating what happened underground to mined diamonds, which made them environmentally friendly.
AutoTrader’s chief executive, George Mienie, believes the advent of cultured diamonds is more exciting than the invention of the light bulb.
He said when cultured diamonds were placed next to radioactive material, they produced a charge.
“Radioactive waste can be encased in diamond and there’s no chance of escape because of the diamond’s toughness,” he said.
“Scientists have indicated that a diamond battery made from nuclear waste could last more than 5 000 years, ” Mienie said.
He said with diamond technology, the electric car’s battery could be smaller than the ones we’re accustomed to and environmentally friendly. He also raved about cultured diamonds being manufactured in a certain way to hold quantum data.
“With connected car technology set to become standard by 2020, the car’s ability to store and share data will be of great importance,” said Mienie. “We’re now in the diamond age.