De Beers, the world’s leading mined diamond manufacturer, announced in April that it will cut back on the amount of mining to extend the supply of naturally occurring stones. Apparently, the mines are becoming depleted, and this revelation should benefit synthetic diamond manufacturers and distributors. The purchase of man-made gems is likely to increase as the supply meets the demand. These man-made gems have the added advantage of being available at a lower price point, and in many of the coveted colors that are prohibitively expensive in the natural stones.
In 2008, De Beers mined 48 million carats in diamonds; that number is expected to drop to 40 million carats in 2011. It was recently reported that the company mined only 24 million carats in 2009, causing a financial loss of $743 million. In addition, no new deposits have been found for about 20 years. In order to extend the life of the mines, the manufacturer plans to cut production by 5% a year, over the next five years.
De Beers is responsible for 40% of rough diamond sales internationally. It is also responsible for 90% of the polishing of this precious jewel worldwide. It owns the largest mine in Surat, India (the diamond capital of the world), as well as the two largest mines in Africa.
Natural stones take thousands of years to form. In a lab, however, the jewels can be produced in about four days. Reports vary on how much money consumers will save by purchasing man-made gems. By some accounts, a 30% savings can be expected. Others say the savings could be as high as 80%, especially if the naturally occurring gems increase in price as production declines.
According to experts, there is no chemical or molecular distinction between these lab-created jewels and those that are mined. Under closer scrutiny, though, a gemologist could be able to tell the difference with very sophisticated equipment. One of the biggest differences is that synthetic stones will also have fewer occlusions (imperfections), so those with noticeable imperfections will be assumed to be natural. Until recently, the lab-created diamonds were usually smaller, with an average size of one carat or less. This is less true now, though there does still appear to be some difficulty in producing the “white” colorless jewels in any significant sizes.
The United States is the largest consumer of this gem in the word, but Eastern Asia is catching up quickly as the region’s taste is changing from precious jade stones to the more rare diamonds. Manufacturers of synthetic gems are expecting customers to have no problem accepting the cultured stones. Though many would prefer real diamonds, in this economy, that is still an unlikely option for many people – and man-made stones are the perfect alternative.
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Stephen Daniels is an SEO 2.0 researcher for a wide variety of industries. He recommends JewelNet.com, the premiere producer of cultured diamonds . They have been named the only eco-friendly cultured diamond producer by EarthShare. They offer certified stones in 6 vibrant colors.
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