Production of Synthetic Diamond a Threat to Diamond Industry

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Jan. 2002

Production is expanding on synthetic diamonds in Florida.

Gemesis, based in Sarasota County, will open a $25 million manufacturing plant next summer. Within two and a half years, the plant could house 300 diamond-producing machines producing as much as 30– to 40,000 stones each year. Revenues may hit $70 to $80 million annually, people involved in the production say. An article in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune says that while most of the production so far has been of yellows, researchers hope to produce blue, pink and colorless stones.

We have long stated that most women will not accept a synthetic as a symbol of eternal love. A computer may be able to reproduce a Picasso, but no one will hang that in a museum.

However, if these stones truly come into mass production, it may cause two problems for the industry. While Gemesis promises to do everything on the level, even to the point of laser-inscribing each diamond, unscrupulous people can erase the inscription and fool people.

In addition, the industry still does not have a simple machine, like the thermal tester for cubic zirconias, that can detect synthetics. Although the labs know how to spot synthetics, most ordinary jewelers and dealers don’t. This could force the industry to rely even more on certificates.

So far, most of the attempts to bring synthetics to market have failed. Even General Electric, which probably has the capability to mass produce synthetics, doesn’t seem too interested in turning them into a business.

However, this looks like a major, multi-million dollar investment, which includes the hiring of Kenneth Watson, a former president and CEO of Cartier International. There is speculation that if Gemesis succeeds, can De Beers be far behind?