supposedly, these are indistinguishable from natural diamonds with
Soon We'll All be Decked in Diamonds
An ex-Army officer in Florida is using secret Soviet
technology to create fake diamonds that are indistinguishable
from "real" ones. Soon we'll all be able to afford to wear
masses of thembut when it's no longer a status symbol, will we
still want to?
Joshua Davis writes in Wired Magazine about Carter Clarke, who
runs Gemesis in Sarasota, Florida, where he grows diamonds in
a warehouse using Russian-designed machines. Diamond dealer
Aron Weingarten of Antwerp, Belgium says, "Unless they can be
detected, these stones will bankrupt the industry."
In reaction, De Beers has set up what it calls the Gem
Defensive Program to warn jewelers that the fakes are on the
market. The problem is, there's no way to tell the "fakes"
from "real" diamonds. Clarke says, "Right now, we only
threaten the way De Beers wants the consumer to think of a
diamond. But imagine what happens when we fill this warehouse
and then the one next door. Then I'll have myself a proper
Clarke discovered diamond-making technology during a 1995 trip
to Moscow, when he met Yuriy Semenov, who was in charge of
selling Soviet-era military research to Western investors. He
asked Clarke, "How would you like to grow diamonds?"
He showed Clarke an 8,000-pound machine that used hydraulics
and electricity to produce enough pressure and heat to
recreate conditions 100 miles below Earth's surface, where
diamonds form naturally. If you put a diamond sliver in the
machine and inject carbon (the raw material of diamonds), a
larger diamond will grow around the sliver. General Electric
built a diamond-making machine in 1954, but it took so much
electrical energy that the resulting diamonds were more
expensive than mined stones.
Clarke brought a machine back to Florida with him, but no one
in the U.S. knew how to run it, so he imported a crew of
Russians as well. When it comes to Florida, Nickolay Patrin,
says, "I felt myself all the time in a sauna." But the machine
still wasn't working right, so Clarke hired Iranian crystal
expert Reza Abbaschian, who installed a computer control
When Clarke took some of his manufactured diamonds to a gem
show in London, De Beers was tipped off and one of their
executives, James Evans Lombe, met him there. "When I told him
that we planned to set up a factory to mass- produce these, he
turned white," Clarke says. "They knew about the technology,
but they thought it would stay in Russia and that nobody would
get it working right. By the end of the conversation, his
hands were shaking."
Since there's no way to tell the difference, De Beers
pressured the Federal Trade Commission to force Gemesis to
label its stones synthetic. Clarke decided to call them
"cultured," as in cultured pearls. He's started out making
yellow diamonds, which are extremely rare and expensive, and
charges 10 to 50% less for them.
Gemesis has a marketing campaign that says their synthetics
are superior to natural diamonds. "If you give a woman a
choice between a 2-carat stone and a 1-carat stone and
everything else is the same, including the price, what's she
gonna choose?" Clarke says. "Does she care if it's synthetic
or not? Is anybody at a party going to walk up to her and ask,
'Is that synthetic?' There's no way in hell. So I'll bite your
ass if she chooses the smaller one."
A diamond has always symbolized love, but is it possible to
love someone who is worshipped by the public? And what's he
REALLY like? Learn about Amy Wallace's secret affair with
Carlos Castaneda on this week's Dreamland.