Cultured VS Mined Diamonds

Diamond miners and mining companies are concerned about the emerging industry of cultured diamonds, and how they might affect the diamond market and consumer choices.

Cultured diamonds are synthesised in laboratories and are chemically, optically and physically identical to mined diamonds. They consist of carbon atoms arranged in the same lattice as mined diamonds. The only difference between the two are their origins (lab vs mine) and prices.

Cultured diamonds are relatively cheaper than mined diamonds. Cultured diamonds by Brilliant Earth, a diamond manufacturing company and distributor with locations throughout America, range from $375 to $110,000, and mined diamonds (in which companies have adhered to ethical principles such as providing optimal conditions for workers) range from $500 to $2,000,000.

Cultured diamonds can be produced in the duration of several days, whereas the natural process of forming diamonds takes billions of years, and requires more labour to convert the raw materials into a final usable diamond.

The industry for cultured diamonds is much more competitive than the industry for diamond mining, primarily due to the cost of production. Technological advancements which began in the 1950s have led to more efficient means of production, which has led to greater productivity in the industry. This means that companies like Brilliant Earth can supply a greater quantity of diamonds.

Cultured diamonds are growing in popularity primarily due to their lower costs. Additionally, the diamond industry is infamous for employee exploitation, thus many feel that cultured diamonds are more ethical. For example, De Beers, the world’s leading diamond mining, retail and trading company has a history of labour exploitation, child labour and slavery dating back to the 1870s. Additionally, the processes involved in mining are extremely dangerous and contribute to many accidents and deaths annually.

The rise of cultured diamonds has led to mixed attitudes within consumers. Many people are willing to purchase cheaper cultured diamonds, while others believe that only mined diamonds hold true authenticity. Mining companies such as De Beers, which hold a monopoly in the industry, fear that cultured diamonds may be falsely traded as mined diamonds, thereby threatening consumer confidence. De Beers in combating this through the use of screening technologies to ensure that cultured diamonds are not sold as mined diamonds.

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8 Comments

  1. With ethical issues and consumers worrying about hip-pocket nerve, I reckon lab diamonds will totally take off in terms of people buying them. This innovation will make mining diamonds a thing of the past. Less consumers wanting mined diamonds, less people exploited although some African countries (Sierra Leone, DRC) rely on trading these precious stones.

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  2. This article brings up some interesting points about markets. Companies like Brilliant Earth are breaking the virtual monopoly De Beers has on diamonds. Naturally, De Beers isn’t happy about this, but the increased competition is better for consumers, driving prices down. This has been made possible through technological development, increasing the supply of diamonds to the market. Just a side note – most diamonds do not end up as jewellery. They have myriad uses in the industrial sector; the vast majority of diamonds are used in machinery.

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  3. Mined diamonds are classified as price inelastic product, which means if the price increases the quantity of demand would not change much. However, when cultured diamonds are introduced to the market, some customers might consider it as a substitute. It will share some market demand of mined diamonds. From my perspective, cultured diamonds could be a trend for customers but mined diamonds are the one have authenticity.

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  4. Richer, more traditionalists may value mined diamonds over cultured ones as they are seen as authentic, and thus a symbol of prestige. Whereas people with less disposable income can buy jewellery with lab made diamonds for a cheaper price, this may ruin the image of diamonds being for the rich, and flood the market with diamonds which have no way of being able to tell them apart just by looking at them.
    The industrial sector could rely more on using cultured diamonds for drills, which would see a drop in the costs of using real diamonds, and how often they may need to be replaced.

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  5. Develop Cultured Diamond has a lot of benefits. Increase the productivity, the producers allow to produce more goods and supply to the markets, all the consumers are satisfied also the suppliers can make more profits. As for consumers, they can spend a less of money to purchase the substitute product – cultured diamond. Anyway the most important thing is reduce accidents save workers’ lives. As my opinion we should recommend the consumers to purchase cultured diamond.

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  6. While developed diamonds have a lot of benefits (ethical, environmental, etc) consumer tastes wouldn’t necessarily shift towards cultured diamonds as people often buy expensive things to show off, meaning that if diamonds were to become cheaper people would no longer want diamonds and shift to a more expensive jewellery gem that is mined to continue to show off their wealth.

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  7. If there is truly no difference between cultured and mined diamonds, what is stopping them from selling the diamonds as mined? Should something be done to distinguish the lab made diamonds from those mined from the ground and how would this be done? Perhaps due to the ethical issues they pose, the diamonds mined from the ground should have heavy taxes on them, now more ethical forms of the resource exist.

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    1. There really shouldn’t need to be a tax imposed on the mined diamonds, they’ve always relied on artificial scarcity to keep diamond prices high and now that there’s competition they’ll either have to lower their prices dramatically (which they can afford to do) or be made obsolete as the price of cultured diamonds drops over time.

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