This morning it was publicly announced that Leonardo DiCaprio has invested in new Silicon Valley startup, DiamondFoundry.com. No doubt the traditional diamond world is quaking in their boots over the implications this could cause the entire industry. But, do they need to worry?
Diamond Foundry was founded in 2012 and has quietly gone through rigorous testing in new proprietary semi-conductor technology allowing them to manufacture (or as they prefer ‘culture’) diamonds at a much faster rate as well as producing much larger diamonds than the traditional HPD or CVD laboratory manufacturing methods of synthetic/man-made diamonds. The main difference between Diamond Foundry’s synthetic diamonds and other traditional synthetic diamonds is the substrate or ‘seed’ substance in which the diamond is grown. According to BusinessInsider.com, Diamond Foundry uses an actual earth mined diamond as the seed material which atoms then adhere to, to form the new diamond. The result, they say is a more pure diamond, which sounds vague at best. It has long been known that synthetic/lab-grown diamonds are physically, optically, chemically and atomically equivalent to natural earth mined diamonds. In fact, the only way to confirm the difference between a natural diamond and a synthetic diamond is through an advanced infrared Raman spectography tool which can show distinct ultra-violet and infrared absorption differences. This is the only reliable method to distinguish a synthetic diamond from a naturally formed diamond.
As for sales and marketing, Diamond Foundry has a different approach to selling their diamonds. As they are outside of the traditional oligopoly of DeBeers and a few others, they have chosen to work with independent jewelry designers that purchase their diamonds for use in their own jewelry settings and designs. Therefore, consumers are able to wear a lab-created diamond from Diamond Foundry through their preferred jewelry designer. You cannot purchase diamonds direct from Diamond Foundry.
Pricing and Lab Grading
Although Diamond Foundry may allay concerns with regard to environmental and the controversial human element of mining natural gems, there is the big question as to how Diamond Foundry plans on pricing their seemingly inexhaustible inventory. Most consumers that are looking to spend a few thousand dollars on a diamond engagement ring or jewelry piece consider price as a significant factor despite the diamond’s origins, and consumers will be surprised to know that these lab-created diamonds are no less expensive than the real thing. In fact, these diamonds will be priced at a premium, so no discounts here for those of you that were looking at pricing as a potential factor to sway you towards the manufactured diamond direction.
And what about lab grades and a consistent approach to confirming and verifying diamond quality? So far, there has been no mention of any labs that have partnered with Diamond Foundry to provide a non-biased 3rd party assessment of their diamonds. Instead, Diamond Foundry has chosen to employ GIA trained gemologists to grade their diamonds in-house and issue their branded, ‘The Forever Guarantee‘ to consumers. However, this isn’t the same as sending the diamond through meticulous lab centered protocols and procedures, not to mention the extensive effort executed to adhere to an anonymous and objective grading process. This is profoundly important, considering that GIA employs a handful of different gemologists to grade one given diamond. Various opinions are tallied and a final conclusion is noted on the report. AGS Laboratory is equally as stringent and even more so on their light performance and cut grade technology.
It must be noted that Diamond Foundry does allow the option for you to send your diamond to GIA for a 3rd party evaluation, however there is an additional charge of $375.00 and the wait time is anywhere from 2-3 weeks. This is, in my opinion, an added hassle that the consumer shouldn’t have to go through.
Evaluating The Actual Diamond
As a diamond consultant I have to mention that the Diamond Foundry doesn’t allow for the consumer to actively evaluate or access the gemstone specifically. Their website allows for you to choose your diamond in a preferred designer setting, but the search tool is basic and has no magnified images, videos, or any advanced evaluation methods (Ideal-scope or ASET) to assess your diamond. Perhaps one of the most concerning issues is the lack of information pertaining to the actual cut proportions of the diamond which is critical to evaluating cut quality and overall light performance; aka what makes a diamond sparkle! I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable buying a diamond online with this limited data and very basic information.
What Does The Future Hold?
The jury is out on whether the Diamond Foundry will successfully reinvent the diamond industry and help to significantly diversify it’s product and service offerings. It’s no question that the industry must change towards a more consistent and transparent marketplace and get rid of it’s long held ‘rip-off’ and ‘shady’ reputation. However, for those diamond connoisseurs that relish in nature-made beauty as well as extremely high quality standards for cut, color, and clarity, it seems that Diamond Foundry has a ways to go to sway the purists among us.
What do you think? Do you think Diamond Foundry will make a significant impact to the diamond industry – for better or worse? Tweet me to continue the conversation….
And as always..Happy Diamond Buying!
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