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Diamond Conflicts

If there's a sparkle in your eye that can only be matched by a certain stone, but you're concerned about the evils of conflict diamonds, don't sigh and reach for that cubic zirconia yet.  You could opt for a certified rock with peaceful provenance -- or you could wait for the latest crop of lab-grown diamonds to be harvested.

As Counterfeit Chic discussed last spring, several companies have developed cost-efficient methods of creating gem-quality diamonds without waiting millions of years for Mother Nature.  They're physically and chemically identical to the real thing, not associated with bloody civil wars, environmentally friendly, and less expensive.  An update in the Wall Street Journal also indicates that their size and commercial availability are increasing -- watch the red carpet this Hollywood awards season for details.

Of course, the diamond industry is preparing for a war of its own, not least over nomenclature.  Are the new stones "cultured" or "synthetic"?  Expect an administrative and legal battle over that one, all in the name of consumer protection.  If the history of pearls is any indication, however, devising a retronym for what we now call simply "diamonds" is an equally compelling task -- "mined diamonds" or "real diamonds"? 

Of course, the industry would probably find almost anything preferable to "blood diamonds."