STORY ABOUT SYNTHETIC COLORED DIAMONDS: A non-issue for WCM
Ever since the Wired Magazine article
appeared in September, 2003, I have received many questions about
the new processes for manufacturing colored diamonds in the
laboratory. For the experts in the diamond industry, some of
whom I utilize for the sourcing of WCM fancy colored diamonds,
this was old news and nothing for potential buyers to be concerned
about. I have included excerpts from articles by the
Gemological Institute of America (GIA) on this very subject,
because if anyone is going to detect a synthetic, manmade
"fake" diamond it is going to be this world-renown
colored diamond grading service. Since existing and new
detection technologies will always be available to separate
"natural" from synthetic colored diamonds, in the
not-inconsequential opinions of both GIA and DeBeers experts,
clients of Wexford Capital Management can always be assured that
they are purchasing a colored diamond created by conditions that
required extreme heat and pressure over millions of years in the
totally natural setting of Nature.
We guarantee that the
WCM Fancy Colored Diamond you are purchasing is totally natural,
and has been certified by GIA as a naturally occurring gem.
In the extremely remote possibility that a synthetic colored
diamond gets through the multiple layers of analysis at WCM, we
will repurchase the diamond from you at your cost plus interest of
10% per annum. We are that confident that the GIA certified
colored diamonds that we offer to discerning clients are the real,
unaltered colored gems that are so rarely found in Nature.
And now from the real experts in the colored diamond grading and
certification industry, GIA:
September 19, 2003
Thoughts from the
President: Gem Synthetic Diamond
by William E. Boyajian, GIA
The recent article on synthetic
diamonds in Wired magazine (September issue) has
garnered a great deal of attention by the major print
media and television networks over the past several weeks.
Gem synthetic diamond is an intriguing
product, and the finished goods are certainly attractive
materials. They should be. They have all the same optical,
physical and chemical properties of natural diamond.
Visually – even to the most experienced gemologists –
they are indistinguishable from natural diamond.
Fortunately, we at GIA have stayed well
ahead of the technology curve on synthetic diamonds for
seven decades. Our first encounter came in the 1930s, when
a scientist claimed he had created synthetic diamond.
Through good science and hard work, GIA founder Robert M.
Shipley and his son Robert Jr. proved the claim to be
In 1955, General Electric Co.
scientists created the first-ever synthetic (industrial
quality) diamonds, which we later characterized. And when
GE announced the first cuttable gem-quality synthetic
diamonds in 1970, we quickly provided identification
criteria. Then, in the 1980s, when Sumitomo Corp. started
selling gem synthetic diamond crystals for use as
"heat sinks" in electronic equipment, we broke
the news to the world with an in-depth 1986 article that
clearly characterized the material and provided for
conclusive identification of it. The following year, we
worked intensely with De Beers’ research staff and
reported on their synthetic diamonds, all produced for
experimental purposes. Since then, we have reported
regularly on synthetic diamonds in Gems & Gemology,
including a comprehensive wall chart for the
separation of natural from synthetic diamonds in 1995 and
a landmark 1996 article by De Beers researchers on their
detection instrumentation. To this day, we continue to
keep the trade and the public informed—and confident—about
our ability to detect gem synthetic diamonds, with an
article in the Winter 2002 G&G (months before
the Wired article) characterizing the new Gemesis
synthetic diamonds and an August Insider report on
the new single-crystal diamonds grown by chemical vapor
I hope that the media reports on
synthetic diamonds mention the fact that the major
laboratories can conclusively identify gem synthetic
diamonds, that most of the material produced is still
small and yellow in color, and that the sum of all
commercially produced gem synthetic diamonds is but a
minute portion of the entire worldwide diamond market.
For years, we have stated that there is
nothing inherently wrong with synthetic diamonds. They are
attractive and will no doubt find a market niche if they
can be produced in sufficient quantities to warrant the
huge investment necessary to create and sustain demand at
appealing price points. Our view has remained consistent:
The key is proper identification and distinction from
natural diamond, as well as full disclosure in the
marketplace. While the barrier to commercially produced
gem synthetic diamond has been broken, our ability to
identify the product has not. It is critical that we keep
Gemesis Laboratory-Created Diamonds
Winter, 2002, Gems & Gemology
James E. Shigley, Reza Abbaschian, and Carter Clarke
yellow, orange-yellow, and yellow-orange
laboratory-created type Ib diamond crystals up to 3.5 ct
are being produced commercially by the Gemesis Corp. of
In some samples, color zoning (yellow and narrower
colorless zones) and a weak UV fluorescence pattern (a
small green cross-shaped zone combined with an overall
weak orange luminescence) provide means of identification;
when present, metallic inclusions also indicate laboratory
growth. Some samples lack these diagnostic visual
features, but all of these Gemesis synthetic diamonds can
be identified by advanced instrumentation such as the De
Beers DiamondView luminescence imaging system and EDXRF
& Gemology: Facetable Laboratory-Created Diamonds
Grown by Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD)
These three laboratory-grown
diamonds (weighing 0.28, 0.14, and 0.31-ct., from
left to right) were produced by chemical vapor
deposition (CVD). Courtesy of Apollo Diamond Inc.
High pressure is normally essential for
the formation of gem-quality diamonds, whether in the
Earth’s interior or in the laboratory. However, growth
of synthetic diamond by chemical vapor deposition (CVD)
techniques, which do not require high pressure, is drawing
increased attention worldwide. The possible use of this
technique to coat gemstones with polycrystalline CVD
synthetic diamond was discussed by E. Fritsch et al.
("A preliminary gemological study of synthetic
diamond thin films," Summer 1989 Gems &
Gemology, pp. 84–90), but until recently, the
technique has not seen much use in the gem industry due to
the difficulty of growing single crystals that are large
enough to be faceted. This may now be changing.
Using a patented CVD process (U.S.
patent no. 6,582,513), Apollo Diamond Inc. of Boston,
Mass., has successfully grown facetable laboratory-created
diamonds. Four crystals (0.34-0.87 ct.) and four faceted
samples (0.14-0.31 ct.) were submitted to the GIA Gem
Laboratory for examination. The faceted samples ranged
from faint brown to dark brown (see figure). Clarity was
equivalent to VS1 to SI2; some small
and irregularly shaped gray-black inclusions were observed
in some samples, due to deposition of diamond-like carbon
or graphite (as suggested by Raman spectroscopy).
Characteristic strain patterns were observed, which were
different from those seen in natural diamonds. Also, since
no flux is employed in the growth process, the metallic
inclusions typically seen in synthetic diamonds grown by
HPHT processes are not present in CVD laboratory-grown
diamonds. All of the samples fluoresced a very weak
yellow-orange to long-wave UV radiation, and a weak to
moderate yellow-orange to short-wave UV. As a
characteristic feature, the CVD synthetic diamonds
displayed strong red fluorescence while exposed to
high-energy UV radiation in the De Beers DiamondView.
Infrared absorption spectra showed that
the CVD laboratory-created diamonds were type IIa, and
some contained trace amounts of isolated nitrogen.
Photoluminescence spectra suggested the presence of N-V
centers, indicated by very strong emission peaks at 575 nm
and 637 nm. Also observed were features such as H-related
absorption at 3123 cm-1 in the mid-infrared
range and a relatively strong photoluminescence emission
at 737 nm due to trace impurities of silicon.
According to Apollo, gem-quality
crystals weighing up to 3 carats could become available in
the near future. Apollo is cooperating closely with the
GIA Gem Laboratory to ensure that these CVD
laboratory-grown diamonds are correctly identified before
being introduced into the market. Gemological and
spectroscopic studies of additional samples will be
reported in a future article.
This entry was prepared by Wuyi Wang,
Matt Hall, and Tom Moses of the GIA Gem Laboratory, New
York, and Jim Shigley of GIA Research, Carlsbad; the photo
is by Elizabeth Schrader. For more on these CVD
laboratory-grown diamonds, as well as other gem materials
from around the world, see the Gem News International
section in the upcoming Fall 2003 issue of Gems &
Gemology. To subscribe, visit Gems & Gemology
online. Or contact Circulation Coordinator Debbie Ortiz at
firstname.lastname@example.org, or call toll free 800-421-7250, ext. 7142.
Outside the U.S. and Canada, call 760-603-4000, ext. 7142.
As new detection technologies are developed for identifying
synthetic or manmade colored diamonds, I will post them on this
site to assure clients that GIA science is in step, if not one
step ahead, of the science of laboratory fabrication.
Regardless of price and similarities, there is no material that
matches the unique characteristics of natural colored diamonds nor
their extreme rarity.