The TV newsmagazine 60 Minutes recently did a program on synthetic diamonds. It covered mostly familiar territory for anyone in the diamond business — how the diamonds will cost less than naturals (though not that much less), how they are mostly yellow, and how the industry is finding ways to tell them apart from naturals.
What’s fascinating about this story and the many others like it is they are talking about a product that is only in a handful of jewelry stores — something which these stories generally fail to note. Companies like Gemesis or Apollo aren’t producing anywhere near the amounts that would make an impact on the market. And it will be some time before they will — if ever.
In the meantime, a lot of companies are jumping in the breach, pitching cubic zirconias and other simulants as if they were synthetic diamonds — which they are not. You can see it on places like ebay and in ads for the Wall Street Journal for products like “Diamond Essence,” which it says is “a perfect alternative to a mined diamond.” Buried into their web site, however, you can discover that the Diamond Essence stones are really cubic zirconia (although a step up from “conventional” cubic zirconia.) Cubic zirconia, for all their strong points, are not the same thing as diamonds. It’s a shame that well-meaning programs like 60 Minutes are playing into the hands of those who want to keep consumers more confused.