The man buys the ring, the woman uses it to announce a new life. The engagement ring has been a long standing tradition, and the ritual around it so practiced you have to resort to sky-writing to show even nominal originality. But there’s a new twist brewing that’s going to change everything.
For several years, ever since a Wired Magazine article on the subject, I’ve been following the development of the ‘Cultured Diamond.’ This diamond is man-made, but, unlike other such sparklies, is actually a diamond.
There are two companies at the forefront of the charge, Boston-based Apollo and Florida-based Gemesis. While the process each uses is completely different, both are seeing spectacular results. Gemesis, whose diamonds are created under extreme pressures, has been producing large yellow diamonds (more expensive because they are more rare) for a while now and selling them through a few select channels. Apollo, who grows their diamonds in a similar way that silicon is grown for computer chips, is set to start selling clear diamonds sometime later this year. And this month, giving these cultured diamonds a huge credibilty boost, the Gemological Institute of America has announced announced they will begin rating manufactured diamonds as they currently rate mined ones.
Should anyone be worried? Mostly De Beers, the London-based cartel that has held a diamond monopoly for years. De Beers has maintained tight control over diamond prices for decades, even going so far as to keep vast storehouses of the gem to prevent surplus, which could cause a slip in prices. They actually created the Diamond Corporation Limited to buy up surplus diamonds after the American stock market crash of 1929, and are estimated to have about five billion dollars in surplus diamonds on, well, ice.
De Beers have battled cultured diamonds from the get-go, from alleged death threats to expensive machines that seek to detect the differences. Unfortunately for them, the biggest indicators that a diamond is manufactured appears to be that the purity is higher and the colors are brighter.
Additionally, there’s no sin involved in cultured diamonds. Firstly, there’s no questionable labor conditions at massive, environmentally-friendly strip mines. Then there’s no fear this diamond might have be a “blood diamond,” stones sold by unseemly parties that will line their pockets for deadly African civil wars. In fact, these new diamonds might be the fake fur that isn’t fake, giving people an out from unseen atrocities currently associated with the gem.
But will it fly with the ladies? I don’t know. Science isn’t getting me any closer to understanding members of the opposite sex (and visa-versa.) I imagine the answer is different across the board. Some will think it crass, others will be wowed by their extreme colors and sizes—attainable at costs previously unimaginable.
For myself, I see exciting possibilities for a diamond created specifically for a blessed occasion, in the honor of the woman that receives it, and lasting forever.