August 23, 1999
Man-Made Diamonds in Florida
Synthetic diamonds for use in jewelry are being made commercially in Florida and are scheduled to hit the market in the next two years. The man-made diamonds are produced using Russian technology, equipment and expertise.
The project is funded by Carter Clarke, a retired U.S. Army general, who runs Gemesis Corp., Gainesville, FL. "I have corralled the resources needed to make diamonds," he says. Those resources include researchers and materials science engineers from the University of Florida as well as a team of experienced Russian scientists from Novosibirsk now in living in Florida. Several Russian diamond presses have also been imported, Clarke says, and are being modified and perfected to produce consistent results. Well over 200 diamonds have been produced, some as large as 1.6 carats in yellow, brownish yellow, colorless and green.
Clarke says he is importing another 200 presses for Gemesis Corp. that should be running next year. He says this initial investment is capable of producing 20,000 to 24,000 carats annually. It's too early to discuss price points, he says, but he is investigating several methods of distribution, including the Internet, wholesale or retail.
Clarke plans to market his product as cultured diamond and says he is unaware of any Federal Trade Commission infringements using the term. Clarke does not like the term synthetic, saying it has a negative connotation. "The FTC clearly says that these diamonds should be sold with a qualification," he reasons. "The word cultured is our qualification." Clarke also says he has had extensive discussions with De Beers scientists and attended the Gemological Institute of America's Symposium to better acquaint himself with issues in the trade.
- by Robert Weldon, G.G.