– Synthetic diamonds are real.
– Of course they are, I can touch them.
–No, really real. They ARE diamonds. Geddit? They are structurally, chemically e-x-a-c-t-l-y the same as what comes out of the ground. They are lab-created. Lab “grown”; or nicer: cultivated gemstones. So the ruby IS a ruby, the emerald an emerald, the diamond a diamond.
Why do we want diamonds? They sparkle, shine, twinkle and are insanely expensive. If you really really love me, you will spend five months salary on giving me a tiny rock. It is ludicrous, really. Gemologists will say that there IS a difference between cultivated and “real” gemstones; there is something subtle in the lustre and luminosity. “Real” ones have imperfections. Lab ones are too perfect.
Right. So. Too perfect. That is a problem. The difference in lustre; you would need years of training and specialist lights and goggles to see it, if it is there at all. So if you have a “real” one, you would have to tell people over and over: “I promise, it IS REAL! NO I mean REAL! An underpaid indentured worker dug it out of the ground!”
I reiterate. why do we want diamonds? Because they are forever? I do not think so. It is about price, rarity, sparkle. Now they are cheap and not rare at all. So what is wrong with cultivated gemstones? They ARE EXACTLY THE SAME. That people live awful lives and die violent and bloody deaths in the gem trade; surely that is not the reason we want them. Looking at that shiny thing, I doubt you think “ooh, the human suffering gone into extracting this is humbling and amazing. I honour their lives and work by wearing this”.
Are diamonds a reminder of the grandness of things? Do we look at them adoringly and think of the enormity of forces and time it took to create them? Of billions of years, the cosmos, stardust; the enormous powers of heat and pressure? Would synthetic gemstones kinda ruin that magic?
No, we want diamonds because they are insanely expensive. That seems to be the only thing left. Someone spent thousands of dollars on me. And that is madness. I have absolutely no interest in ground-diamonds. But cultivated ones… they fascinate me. I can easily look at them and hold two thoughts simultaneously: be humbled by the ingenuity of our species, and see the enormity of deep time.
Synthetic diamonds are forever too.
And here is a thought: with cheap gemstones, jewellers can play and experiment, and we can have gemstone jewellery with flair, fun and inventiveness, and you would have to appreciate them for what they are: objects and art of phenomenal skill and artistry.
(all jewellery pics from Orro)