I was amused to read that the diamond industry is getting its knickers in a knot over Leonardo DiCaprio once more.
A decade after his film 'Blood Diamond' shone a light on the dark underbelly of the diamond industry, Leonardo DiCaprio is ruffling feathers again.
The Hollywood star has annoyed industry leaders by promoting lab-produced gems.
He has invested in the US start-up Diamond Foundry, which says it can produce pure, nine-carat gems much faster than it takes to mine them.
At the Natural Resources Forum last month, Stuart Brown, chief executive of AIM-listed Firestone Diamonds, said synthetics threaten firms that mine for gems. He added: ‘Our first challenge is to work together to make sure we can counter the threat of manufactured diamonds, as it’s not going away, and really sing the praises of the natural mining industry and how much good it does in countries like Botswana.’
There's more at the link.
Don't believe a word of the hype from the diamond industry about how 'natural' gems are somehow 'better' than synthetic gems. They're lying - and, what's more, they've been living a lie for generations. You see, there are parts of the world where diamonds are common or garden items. If it were allowed (it's not), I could take you for a walk in the so-called Sperrgebiet - 'Forbidden Area' - in Namibia, and literally pick up diamonds off the sand as we walk. I know. I've done it on an escorted tour, near Oranjemund. (Of course, the area has long been stripped of most of its best diamonds, at enormous profit to the local diamond industry but giving virtually nothing back to the local population or the country. [You can watch the first part of a documentary about it here, with links to the rest on that page.] So much for 'how much good it does in countries like Botswana' - the industry only 'does good' when it can't get away with robbing them blind! Again, I know. I've seen it at first hand. The movie 'Blood Diamond' was by no means all Hollywood hype. A lot of it was true.)
The thing is, diamonds are common in nature.
Diamonds are the hardest material found on earth. Other than that, they hold no unique distinctions. All gem grade materials are rare, composing just a tiny fraction of the earth. However, among gems, diamonds are actually the most common. If you doubt this ask yourself; “How many women do you know that do not own at least one diamond?” Now ask the same question about other gems.
While we are still learning about the interior of the earth, current information shows that diamonds are likely the most common gem in nature.
Outside the earth, diamonds are also common. A recent discovery shows that some stars collapse on themselves, creating giant diamond crystals. In the constellation Centaurus, there lies a white dwarf, that has crystallized into a diamond 2,500 miles in diameter and weighing 10 billion, trillion, trillion carats.
Again, more at the link.
Being so common, diamonds don't deserve the inflated prices asked for them by jewelers around the world. That's largely the creation of De Beers, the mining company behind the slogan and campaign, 'A Diamond Is Forever'. (You can read how that happened here. There's no reality behind it - just advertising and the 'soft sell'.) For many years, De Beers formed and controlled a very successful monopoly alliance of suppliers, which held back diamonds from the market, creating an artificial shortage and raising their price. To this day, it tries to prevent new supplies from new producers from 'flooding' the market and driving down prices to more realistic levels.
Natural diamonds were created by precisely the same forces as modern synthetic diamonds. It's just that the former underwent that transformation in nature, whereas the latter undergo it in the laboratory. Put two identical gems next to one another, one natural and the other synthetic, and you probably won't be able to tell them apart unless you examine them microscopically. (Indeed, the synthetic gem may well be 'superior' to the natural one, in that it'll probably contain fewer impurities.)
There is simply no real-world reason, apart from advertising and sentiment, to pay exorbitant prices for gem diamonds. They can be created in the laboratory for a fraction of the price demanded for natural diamonds, and I see no reason why that shouldn't become commonplace. I hope more laboratories decide to offer such products to the public at more realistic prices. That can only be good for all consumers.