"Machine-Made Diamonds": Rob Bates on the Semantics of the Great Diamond Debate

Opinion piece
12/12/2015 00:30

In a brief essay worthy of a read by anyone interested in the diamond industry, Rob Bates has succinctly summarized how the natural diamond industry could turn the nomenclature of non-natural diamonds in its favor. "Last year," he writes, "I argued that the best term for lab-grown diamonds may be non-mined. That is scientifically accurate and also gets across the stones’ main selling point. Many diamond growers regularly label natural stones mined diamonds to take advantage of consumers’ negative opinions on mining. For a long time, the leaders of the natural industry have labeled lab-grown diamonds synthetics. They argue, as do GIA scientists, that the term is scientifically accurate ... But lab growers hate that term, and many consumers clearly believe it means fake, which these diamonds are not."

Machine-made diamonds: Romance Killers

"Perhaps it’s time to give up that battle. The natural industry can call those diamonds factory-made. Or machine-produced. Both terms are romance killers. Neither are likely to appeal to eco-conscious consumers. And both are far more accurate than lab-grown, since these diamonds are generally not grown in facilities we would consider labs."

Natural diamond industry must do more

"In the long-term, the natural industry must do many things to meet the challenge of synthetic diamonds, including cleaning up existing problems in the supply chain, offering more origin-certified gems, and better communicating the social benefits of the natural industry. As lab-grown diamonds continue to enter the mainstream, these measures are no longer optional. And despite what I wrote above, if the natural industry’s only plan to differentiate itself from these gems is to give them an ugly name, it will be seriously damaged, maybe even killed. That would be a genuine tragedy, damaging the livelihoods of millions of the world’s poorest people. The traditional trade is slowly realizing that created diamonds may be the most serious threat it has ever faced. There is a lot to do. But until all that happens: machine-made diamonds. Think about it."