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Starting in 1937 the De Beers company kicked off what has become one of the most successful advertising campaigns in history. Using the slogan “A diamond is forever”, De Beers was able over time to convince a large portion of the western world that a diamond was the only viable option for an engagement ring. They were also able to create an extensive market for diamond jewelry and to control the prices for diamonds. At that time, a diamond was the hardest known material and could only be found in a limited number of mines. In 2007, advanced in technology have changed the gemstone marketplace. At this time, a diamond is the third hardest material as there are now two man-made materials that are harder than a diamond. In addition, diamonds can now be made in a laboratory. The question that needs to be asked is what will a diamond be worth in 25 years or 50 years?
At present, it is correct to say that the price of mined diamonds is not consistent with what the law of supply and demand would dictate. The De Beers Company produces about 50% of the mined diamonds available in the world and they restrict the access to gemstone quality diamonds so that the pricing for diamonds remains higher than it would normally be. This artificial pricing for diamonds tends to inflate the prices for man-made diamonds as well because there are very few manufacturers currently making gem quality diamonds. For the next 5-10 years, this situation probably won’t change significantly.
Currently, man-made diamonds remain relatively rare, but diamond simulants, gemstones that appear like a diamond, are becoming quite common and inexpensive. Cubic Zirconia (CZ) is a very rare naturally occurring material that can be man made in a laboratory inexpensively. CZs look so much like a diamond that in general, only a highly trained jeweler can tell the difference. The easy test to identify a CZ versus a diamond is – look into the stone with a microscope and if there are inclusions (imperfections in the stone) then it is probably a diamond. If the inside of the stone is free of imperfections then it is probably a CZ.
What will happen beyond 10 years when man-made diamonds are readily available? One of the interesting properties of a diamond is that it conducts heat better than copper. Will it come to pass that 50 years from now you are cooking your dinner in a diamond frying pan? This is already beginning to happen, but the frying pans are lined with diamond dust.
Will the value of mined diamonds decrease as man-made diamonds become more available? In the late 19th century, when they were finishing the Washington Monument, they placed a metal cap on top of the Washington Monument of the rarest metal at the time – aluminum. Since then aluminum has become easy to refine and is now inexpensive. Will the same thing happen to a diamond? To think that what happeded to aluminum won't happen to a diamond just isn't sound thinking.
Armed with this knowledge, how would an intelligent person respond? Would it be smart to invest in a comodity that will depreciate in value over the next 25 to 50 years? Wouldn't it be smarter to consider lower priced alternatives to a diamond (cubic zirconia jewelry) that looks so much like a diamond that most jeweler’s can’t tell the difference? How about man-made sapphires or rubies? We believe that it is only safe to conclued that over time the value of mined diamonds, rubies, saphhires, aquamarines, emeralds and amethyst will decrease significantly as excellent quality man-made gemstones becomes more available. Does it make sense to spend more for an inferior product just because it came out of the ground? Over the long term, it just doesn't make sense.