Just the word ‘Diamond’ invokes thoughts of images and often feelings about, Romance, Love, purity, Wealth and Rarity.
Let’s focus on the last word there, RARE. That’s why they fetch such a high price don’t they? Well sort of. A perfect example of RARE are the Pink Diamonds from the Argyle Diamond Mine in Western Australia. The mine is closing as they do not see a foreseeable future within the mine for extracting gem quality diamonds. With this in mind, if you have ever dreamed of owning an Argyle Pink Diamond, now is a great time to get one. I don’t have a crystal ball on investment strategies but I believe that once the Argyle mine is closed forever, there won’t be any more. What’s in the market will be a commodity to be sold and bought just like real estate. Leibish & Co are one of the worlds colored Diamond dealers, buying some of the Argyle Mines coveted ‘Tender’ diamonds. Beyond Rare! Leibish & Co.
Completely on the other hand we have a new player on the block, Synthetic Diamonds. Most of us have heard a whisper or two about them, even Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio is a major ambassador behind them. Production of Synthetic Diamonds has been a little slow and so has the reception to accept them In comes a new player to the Synthetic Diamond market – “Lightbox Diamonds” they are selling 1 carat diamonds for $800, no certification just a laser inscribed girdle. That’s $800 per carat not $8’000 per carat for a Natural Diamond (approx. depending on the 4 C’s)
Lightbox Diamonds are owned by De Beers, who currently control about 30 percent of the world’s diamond production. These little miracles are manufactured in spaceship like test tubes in Great Britain’s township of Oxfordshire, where you will find ‘Element Six Innovation Center’, the industrial arm of De Beers. A fitting name for creating something God like. Element Six uses a new technique called ‘CVD” or Chemical Vapor Deposition. Using a vacuum filled chamber and low pressure, gases react and start to create layers of carbon that slowly adhere to each other and conjoin thus creating a single diamond. This method is not only cheaper but less laborious to maintain and monitor the stones progress enabling large scale production compared with HPHT High Pressure High Temperature created Synthetic Diamonds that are a lot slower to produce.
Are synthetic Diamonds Eco Friendly?
I’m often asked for them as a more Eco-Friendly option and a certainty of being conflict free but are they really? While it is important to note that though lab diamonds arguably cause the least impact on our planet than mining. However, many mined diamonds are ethically and responsibly sourced often helping the local community’s economy, where the mines are located. E.g. De Beers offset 5 acres of conservation area for every acre that they mine. They also contribute to providing opportunities and enhancing the local economy by; funding better health care, education programs and empowering women. On Sept 26 2018 the De Beers Group, in partnership with United Nations (UN) Women, announced the launch of a three-year capacity-building programme to improve the livelihoods of more than 1,200 women micro-entrepreneurs in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa.
Read more about this here:
Obviously, we all know that significantly large open cut mines, like the Alrosa Diamond Mine in Russia, have a vast impact on the environment. In particular their contribution to the carbon footprint, as the incredibly oversized earth moving machines involved in this process disrupt the natural ecosystem and produce carbon emissions. The mining of Natural Diamonds is quite expensive with The De Beers group spending approximately $2 billion US dollars to mine only ten thousand diamonds over 1ct last year.
As we are discovering about Synthetic Diamonds we are obviously far cheaper and far better for the environment. No doubt there is a lot of money and a carbon footprint associated with the production of the actual spaceship like kilns that produce the synthetic diamonds, although they can be used repeatedly. So the only carbon footprint generated will be emissions from the CPR ‘Cost Per Run’ consisting of highly purified carbon gas or Carbon. The energy costs associated with generating that much heat, as well as the wear and tear on the machines themselves will impact similarly.
My Opinion – Would I not spend my money on lab diamonds?
Yes, if my budget wouldn’t stretch as far as I would like and my partner had hinted that a Lab Diamond was the only way to go.. It’s the same thing when you look at them. I am a believer in the value and rarity of Natural Diamonds, but I am not condoning the impact that open cut mines have on our environment. Instead just looking at what a natural diamond is!. A rare and beautiful remnant of nature that this Earth has allowed us to find and cherish with each and every one as different as we are.
The move from De Beers ‘Lightbox Diamond Brand’ has stunned many on how cheap they are. Their pricing structure has somewhat rattled the Lab Diamond market. My speculation from the beginning, which has now been confirmed, is that Synthetic Diamonds are and may get even cheaper. Perhaps not as cheap as a Moisanite or Cubic Zirconia but it maybe lower that their current price . Even Lightbox themselves don’t sell loose diamonds or Diamond Engagement rings using their Lightbox creations and appear to be targeting the teenage market. There is a good possibility it will further threaten the value of lab diamonds whether you own one now or were interested in buying one in the future. Only time will tell. In saying that, if you were considering a Diamond for your Investment Portfolio I wouldn’t suggest buying a Lab Diamond.