Man-Made in Florida
Synthetic diamonds from a new producer are headed for jewelry
A Florida company has launched commercial production of synthetic
diamonds with hopes of having enough ready to market in a year
The diamonds are produced with Russian technology, equipment
and expertise in a project funded by Carter Clarke, a retired
U.S. Army general who runs Gemesis Corp. in Gainesville. Gemesis
hired researchers and engineers from the University of Florida
and scientists from Novosibirsk, a Russian diamond synthesis
center. Scientists who still live in Russia collaborate on the
The company's resources include several diamond presses imported
from Russia. "The quality of the machines left something
to be desired," says Clarke. "But with modifications,
we'll be able to control consistency and supply."
The company has produced more than 200 yellow, brownish yellow,
colorless and green diamonds in the past 11/2 years, some up
to 1.60 carats. Clarke says the green is caused by coloring agents,
not irradiation like other green diamonds.
The first order of business is perfecting gem-quality synthetic
diamonds, says Reza Abbaschian, the principal investigator at
the University of Florida. "Long-term plans call for production
of diamonds for use in electronics and other high-tech applications."
The university says a typical jeweler couldn't distinguish
between a natural diamond and one of these synthetics. But synthetic
diamond expert Alex Grizenko of Ultimate Created Diamonds, Golden,
CO, says they are produced with a high-pressure, high-temperature,
split-sphere apparatus typical of diamond synthesis so they should
be identifiable using standard gemological techniques, such as
fluorescence and magnification. (See Professional Jeweler, March
1999, p. 29, for tips on separating synthetic and natural diamonds.)
Clarke plans to import 200 more presses and eventually to
produce 20,000 to 24,000 carats annually. He hasn't set prices
yet and is investigating several distribution methods, including
the Internet, wholesale and retail. "I see this as a niche
product that could be priced to compete with natural [diamonds]
and simulants such as cubic zirconia," he says.
Clarke plans to market his product as cultured diamonds and
says he's unaware of any Federal Trade Commission infringements
using the term. "The FTC clearly says these diamonds should
be sold with a qualification," and the word 'cultured' is
our qualification," he says. Here's what the FTC Guides
for the Jewelry Industry say in Section 23.19: "It is an
unfair trade practice to use the ... name of any precious or
semiprecious stone, as descriptive of a synthetic stone or an
imitation or simulated stone, unless such word or name is immediately
preceded, with equal conspicuity, by the word 'synthetic,' or
by the word 'imitation' or 'simulated,' whichever is applicable,
or by some other word or phrase of like meaning, so as clearly
to disclose the nature of such product and the fact that it is
not a natural stone."
by Robert Weldon, G.G.
||Robert Chodelka, a scientist in the synthetic
diamond project at the University of Florida, poses with a high-temperature,
high-pressure press used to produce diamonds.
Examples of uncut diamonds produced in Florida.
These and other colors may be available to the jewelry trade
in quantity in a year or two.
Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.