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Technology Science

A Step Toward the Diamond Age 666

An anonymous reader writes "Carnegie Institution researchers have learned to produce 10-carat, half-inch thick diamonds at rates of about 100 micrometers per hour, which in the diamond biz is blazingly fast. And these aren't cruddy, yellow diamonds either, but gem-quality stones. The goal: A 300 carat beast in whatever shape they want."
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A Step Toward the Diamond Age

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  • From the source (Score:5, Informative)

    by Spy Hunter ( 317220 ) * on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @03:54AM (#12552167) Journal
    Pictures [carnegieinstitution.org] and the press release [carnegieinstitution.org].
  • Excellent (Score:5, Funny)

    by PeteDotNu ( 689884 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @03:55AM (#12552169) Homepage
    Eventually they'll be so common that they'll be pretty much worthless!

    Viva la fight against capitalism!
    • Re:Excellent (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @03:57AM (#12552176)
      It doesn't matter. Some other rare thing will replace the diamond and nobody will want diamonds anymore (except for industrial purposes). When it comes to women, it will still just be a matter of how much you are willing to spend to get a piece of that self-absorbed, attention-seeking, validation-needing ass. If diamonds become as cheap as glass, something else will become common to replace them as a means of proving your desperation for a piece of ass by buying something technically worthless and useless.
      • Re:Excellent (Score:5, Interesting)

        by KiloByte ( 825081 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @04:06AM (#12552209)
        Also, the price of diamonds is the result of biggest marketing scams of the century. It's pretty much only the last 100-150 years when they were promoted as the #1 gem in jewelry. In ancient/medieval/renaissance times, diamonds weren't held in that much esteem -- coloured gems like rubys were considered more valuable.

        Knocking off the price of diamonds is a great thing. I couldn't care less for jewelry, and without the artificially inflated price, we'll be able to use one of the best materials when it comes to hardness, certain conducting properties and so on. Similarily, you can coat connectors with a thin layer of gold to improve them, but it's an expensive thing to do because people tend to hog all gold reserves for monetary purposes.
        • Re:Excellent (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Nogami_Saeko ( 466595 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @04:34AM (#12552326)
          Not to mention that the diamond industry (the mining one that is ala debeers) is absolutely TERRIFIED of cultured stones and takes every opportunity to trash them, saying that they're "not as good as natural stones"...

          Because... They cost less?

          It's certainly not because they look any different unless you're an expert in gemstones with good-enough gear to do some very specific testing. Certainly no consumer is going to be able to notice the difference.

          But it's all just a big ego trip anyway - "my wallet is bigger than your wallet because I can drop (insert number here) dollars on a hunk of carbon)."

        • Re:Excellent (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @04:37AM (#12552334)
          This is true, the value of a diamond is way too inflated. However, it's only one way inflation. Try to re-sell that diamond you just bought, and you'll know what I mean. The DeBeers family worked it right though!

          That said, one of the reasons diamonds have a higher value now than they used to is partially due to new cutting techniques. I'm pretty sure most /.ers aren't very interested in diamonds, but there are a number of modern techniques, some of which even have patents on them. The particular cuts make use of the refraction index in order to create very bright points on the polished surface, which creates the glittery effect. Check out old victorian era antique diamond jewelry. They look dull, and it's no polishing will bring them up to par with modern diamonds. That's also why the artificial 1/2" diamond in the picture doesn't look that shiny, even though it's semi-polished. Actually, the inscriptions on the said diamond make a great demonstration for the laser, but totally fsck up the brilliance of the diamond itself...

          I'm sorta interested to see what levels of impurities these artificials have. In the natural world, the larger the diamond is, the more likely there's a significant impurity in it. Impurities drive down the price of diamonds significantly. Also, being not-so-yellow isn't good enough, there are multiple levels of clearness when grading diamonds, so I'm also interested to see exactly HOW clear these diamonds are. Now, if they can create a 300 carat diamond with color D and clarity SI2 to IF, whoa, run for your money DeBeers!
          • Re:Excellent (Score:5, Informative)

            by Gumph ( 706694 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @05:26AM (#12552487)
            although I agree with your statement on the colour aspect I don't think SI2 is a 'good' level of inclusions
            for those of you not up on your diamond clarity scale it goes:

            ** Best at Top **
            IF (Internally flawless)
            VVSI1-VSI2 (Very Very Small Inclusions)
            VSI1-VSI2 (Very Small Inclusions)
            SI1-SI2 (Small Inclusions)
            I1-I3 (inclusions)
            so as can be seen a grade fo SI2 is pretty bad, I would say DeBeers need a good colour plus a good clarity, nothing less than VS1 IMHO. And just for completeness the colour scale goes from D (the best - clear or blue) to Z (yellow), so again they would not want anything less than G or H I would think, seeing as how hard it is to get a pure D diamond.

            plus I don't think man made diamonds are ever going to eclipse natural ones for jewelry, there is just no cache (can't be bothered to find the accented e at the end of that word) attached to them.
            • Re:Excellent (Score:5, Insightful)

              by djmurdoch ( 306849 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @06:55AM (#12552962)
              plus I don't think man made diamonds are ever going to eclipse natural ones for jewelry, there is just no cache (can't be bothered to find the accented e at the end of that word) attached to them.

              It's "cachet", no accent.

              If you think manmade diamonds won't be as popular as natural ones, look at cultured pearls. There's very little cachet to naturally occurring pearls.
            • by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @11:59AM (#12556145) Homepage
              Hmm - does this give anybody for a new processor rating system now that we're trying to get out of the MHz race.

              NS - Not Slow
              VVSS1-VVSS2 Very Very Slightly Slow
              VSS1-VSS2 Very Slightly Slow
              SS1-SS2 Slightly Slow
              S1-S3 Slow
          • Re:Excellent (Score:5, Insightful)

            by kfg ( 145172 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @05:28AM (#12552495)
            . . .the larger the diamond is, the more likely there's a significant impurity in it. Impurities drive down the price of diamonds significantly.

            Which they have because they are created in an impure environment. Even with current technology one of the ways to identify a man made diamond is that it's "too pure" and "too perfect."

            Thus DeBeers again have managed to have it both ways. Purity drives up the cost of a natural diamond, but makes a man made diamond worth less.

            You're trying to apply logic to the matter.

            Silly boy.

        • by kfg ( 145172 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @05:36AM (#12552518)
          . . .it's an expensive thing to do because people tend to hog all gold reserves for monetary purposes.

          When someone recently asked me what the current value of gold was, and I answered:

          "Well, pretty much the same as always. It's got a low melting temperature, can often be found in a fairly pure state, it's highly maleable, doesn't oxidize,conducts electricity reasonably well and it's kinda pretty if that's the sort of thing you think is pretty."

          They looked at me funny.

      • Re:Excellent (Score:5, Interesting)

        by nickco3 ( 220146 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @04:58AM (#12552407)
        It doesn't matter. Some other rare thing will replace the diamond and nobody will want diamonds anymore (except for industrial purposes)

        Or, perhaps diamonds will be household items and practically everywhere? The Queen of England's jewelry collection contains aluminium pieces that were fantastically valuable when they were originally given to Queen Victoria. Today, mass-produced aluminium jewelry is so cheap it is normally described as 'imitation'.
    • by sakri ( 832266 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @04:48AM (#12552378) Homepage
      I for one look forwards my kids watching old MTV videos, and laughing at 50cent's and his homeys wearing worthless rocks around their necks :)
    • Re:Excellent (Score:4, Interesting)

      by plopez ( 54068 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @09:44AM (#12554243) Journal
      Diamonds are not as rare as you think. It just that a corrupt cartel controls the major sources to keep the price up. IIRC, emeralds are rarer, though less expensive.

      I can't find the source but, when the Soviet Union fell they were sitting on a large stock of high grade diamonds, the cartel paid them not to release the diamonds on the market to keep the prices up.

      Also they have a history of when ever it looks like a new diamond source is being developed they increase the supply and depress the prices just enough to make it uneconomical. And then raise prices again when the attempt fails.

      Diamonds are for suckers.
  • Wondering ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by puiahappy ( 855662 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @03:55AM (#12552170) Homepage
    And how expensive is that technology ?
  • by KiloByte ( 825081 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @03:57AM (#12552178)
    Do you want to bet how long it will take for a certain criminal, monopolistic, little-african-children abusing cartel to have the research grants revoked, and if that fails, to have an accident happen to the scientists in question?
    • by La Camiseta ( 59684 ) <me@nathanclayton.com> on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @04:08AM (#12552218) Homepage Journal
      You're completely overlooking the fact that some much larger industries are probably frothing at the mouth when hearing about this (namely the tech industry). Intel, AMD, IBM, and the like have wanted the ability to use diamonds instead of copper in chips for ages. With this ability, they can push clock speeds (and consequently temps) into ranges previously unheard of without worrying about melting the innards of the processor.

      I can just about guarantee you that if they were to get their funding revoked because of DeBeers, then those scientists could just as easily go to some of the major chip manufacturers and find levels of funding that they wouldn't even be able to dream of while working in academia.
      • by strider44 ( 650833 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @04:19AM (#12552271)
        I believe they want to use it instead of silicon as opposed to copper because of it's semiconductor capabilities.
        • by Andy_R ( 114137 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @05:36AM (#12552516) Homepage Journal
          That's just one of it's impressive properties:

          Diamond is the best heat conductor known to man, if long thin cylindrical diamonds were available, they would be in huge demand to pipe heat out of CPUs.

          Diamonds are ridiculously strong when used in composites, if you thought plain old glass-fibre and carbon fire were strong, simply replace the glass or carbon with diamond, and you have a strength to weight ratio that is unheard of.

          Diamonds can be amazingly transparent and durable too of course.

          If diamonds become cheap enough, our laptops will have diamond as the substrate for the chips, as heat-pipes, as reinforcement in the cases, and as the top layer of the screen.

          As the song (nearly) says... Diamonds are a geek's best friend!
    • All funny/paranoia jokes aside, people that get in the way of DeBeers have a way of sudden financial ruin or disappearing. They actively and dilligently seek out and buy or destroy technologies to artificially create gem quality diamonds. Researchers in this field have every reason to be concerned about their security. Scary stuff. Wired did a great article on this very thing a few years ago.
  • Yellow? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Huge Pi Removal ( 188591 ) * <oliver+slashdot@watershed.co.uk> on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @03:58AM (#12552184) Homepage
    I thought yellow diamonds (depending on their exact colour) could be worth much more than normal ones. At least, that's what the Antiques Roadshow said on Sunday...

    e.g. http://www.yellowdiamonds.co.uk/ [yellowdiamonds.co.uk]

    • Re:Yellow? (Score:5, Informative)

      by JamesD_UK ( 721413 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @04:32AM (#12552319) Homepage
      Indeed. Whilst a yellowish tint may devalue a white diamond, at the extreme end of the yellow colours (fancy yellow) it increases the value. The Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] covers this.
    • Re:Yellow? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ralph Wiggam ( 22354 )
      Diamond color is on a lettered scale, I think starting at E or F (it's diamonds, nothing makes sense). The very very clear ones are worth a lot and then the price drops quickly as you get into k,l,m,n,o category because they're noticably yellow. Even cheap jewelry stores don't use p,q,r,s grade stones. Then you get all the way to Z+, and all of the sudden it's "fancy yellow" and worth more than a clear diamond. Price is just about marketing and demand. Even more expensive than yellow diamonds are pink
    • by geekwench ( 644364 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @04:59AM (#12552411)
      As the title implies, the value of any color of fancy color diamond depends upon the intensity and vividness of the color.

      The yellow diamonds that are being referred to in this context are not the fancy and sought-after "canary" variety; they're diamonds with certain impurities in the carbon that give them a yellowish or brownish tint, instead of the clear "white" that is deemed so valuable.

      Here's a page [diamondhelpers.com] with a photo about halfway down that will give you an idea. Another page [diamondhelpers.com] from the same site shows the various grades of colorless-ness.

      A true fancy diamond of any color doesn't fall under these grading systems, obviously. The difference in intensity between the muted yellow-brown of a 'Z' color and a true canary-yellow is like the difference between a glowstick and a krypton-bulb flashlight. See here [jewelryexpert.com] for some examples of blue, canary, pink, and peach diamonds. (No greens, though; and they're my favorite.)

      And for the record: Yes, I Am A Jeweler.

    • Re:Yellow? (Score:3, Informative)

      by ocbwilg ( 259828 )
      I thought yellow diamonds (depending on their exact colour) could be worth much more than normal ones. At least, that's what the Antiques Roadshow said on Sunday...

      It depends. Yellow tinted diamonds tend to be worth less than the whiter diamonds, but if the coloration is fairly strong then it is considetred a "fancy" diamond and can be worth more money, especially if it is of significant size. Diamonds also can be found in pink, green, blue, yellow, orange-ish, and even a "champagne" sort of variety.
  • by chrono13 ( 879557 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @04:00AM (#12552192)
    Some of us could finally get lucky [plus613.com].
  • finally (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @04:01AM (#12552195)
    We can finally end world hunger with an ampel supply of artifical carrots for everyone!

    - python_kiss
  • by Gopal.V ( 532678 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @04:07AM (#12552215) Homepage Journal
    Come on !. Think about it. They're precious because they are rare, exclusive and pretty much a freak of nature - clear diamonds more so still (probability, my dear watson).

    If this will end up producing indistinguishable diamonds , then the market will collapse. IIRC, the artificial rubies made always contain a peice of metal embedded to make sure they are not sold as the real one - it's a question of business ethics for the people who make them (also good old plain advertisement).

    To quote Scott Adams: if rabbits were rare and endagered, we'd be buying rabbit shit necklaces for our girlfriends.
    • by tukkayoot ( 528280 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @04:15AM (#12552254) Homepage
      Diamonds aren't really that rare, it's just that De Beers has a virtual monopoly on them and carefully controls how many of them enter the market.

      It's artificial rarity, so it may be poetic justice that "artificial" (not a completely accurate term, since they are indeed "real" diamonds) diamonds are what ultimately bring down the price on the stones.

  • unfortunately (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cahiha ( 873942 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @04:18AM (#12552269)
    With the availability of high quality artificial diamonds, we could stop diamond mining. Unfortunately, the diamond mining industries are trying to perpuate their expensive and destructive extraction business by trying to create a special mystique around "natural" diamonds.

    So, be aware that the high price you pay for a "natural" diamond is a direct result of the rather unnatural destruction of the environment, together with monopolistic prices charged by the diamond cartels. There are better ways to say "I love you" to someone.
    • Re:unfortunately (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Golias ( 176380 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @05:37AM (#12552520)
      If this really is a marketing thing, maybe it's high time for some counter-marketing.

      I, for one, would very much prefer a man-made diamond.

      A pretty rock which somebody found in a hole is nice, but a man-made diamond is a testament to the wonders of modern engineering.

      I would love it if some company were to start selling high-dollar jewelry made exclusively with man-made gems. Call them "artisan crafted" stones or something.

      If DeBeers can run a few ads around Valentine's Day to create the illusion that mined stones are worth more than they really are, it seems to me somebody could do the same thing to elevate the perceived value of the man-made ones.

      Play the angles just right, and you will have women refusing to consider accepting flawed, irregular, "natrual" stones (which were probably dug up using child labor) as a gift, insisting on the "real" lab-made diamonds, which are perfect.
      • Re:unfortunately (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gothfox ( 659941 )

        Sorry, but it's not the diamond itself, it's the act of spending shitloads of money on them is what matters.

        So, make them price higher than DeBeers crap and you've got yourself a winner.

      • Re:unfortunately (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Calroth ( 310516 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @08:29AM (#12553474)
        I would love it if some company were to start selling high-dollar jewelry made exclusively with man-made gems. Call them "artisan crafted" stones or something.

        Back in the day, the only way to get pearls was to find them in the wild. So you'd get people diving around the place, digging up oysters to get at the pearls. Then someone had the bright idea of farming pearls. Great idea! We can make as many pearls as we like, we can guarantee their quality, etc.

        Now, the status quo didn't like this, tried to get it banned, etc. etc. But the point of this post (yeah, we're getting there!) is that the pearl farmers managed to find a name for their "artificial" goods that sounded appealing: cultured pearls. People liked the name and they liked the idea, and the rest is history.

        Cultured diamonds, anyone?
      • Re:unfortunately (Score:3, Informative)

        by Smidge204 ( 605297 )
        You can buy jewel quality man-made diamonds right now: http://www.gemesis.com/ [gemesis.com] (Flash)

        They call them "Cultured Diamonds". Available in pink, yellow and blue. There was a story [wired.com] about these guys not that long ago.

        But if you want a truly "perfect" gemstone, CVD is the way to go. The article linked above talks about a company called "Apollo Diamond":

        Back at the Diamond High Council, I open the film canister and shake the Apollo stones onto the table. Van Royen tentatively picks one up with a pair of elongat

      • Re:unfortunately (Score:3, Interesting)

        by chialea ( 8009 )
        >I, for one, would very much prefer a man-made diamond.

        You're not alone in that, but jewelers are still resisting like mad. My fiance went around trying to get a Gemesis stone locally a while ago -- jewelers actually SCREAMED at him. We eventually decided to go with a sapphire anyway. (But I see those Gemesis blues coming out... so tempting!)

  • by mjfgates ( 150958 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @04:20AM (#12552277)
    Gonna make me a "glass" house, and then I'm gonna throw me some STONES, oh, yeah.
  • by mister_tim ( 653773 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @04:21AM (#12552282)
    I saw a documentary on TV last year about a firm that is now 'growing' diamonds - sounded similar to this. Anyway, they were growing them at an incredible rate and they were completely flawless (although i don't know that they were able to specify a size).

    On the show, they also talked to a rep from De Beers and a diamond merchant. They basically said that the grown diamonds were almost too good. Despite being a bibt worried about it, they seemed like they would adapt to the new environment. De Beers marketing strategy against something like that would be to promote the classical beauty of natural diamonds, or something like that - basically, advertise the 'snob' value of classically mined diamonds, even if they are less perfect.

    On a separate note, I am looking forward to advances in Teflon.

    I remember Dr Karl Kruszelnicki (Australians would know who he is) talking at my High School during our final year. Someone posed the old favourite question, "if nothing sticks to teflon, how come it sticks to the frying pan?". Apart from his answer, he did one of his trade-mark tangential replies and said that teflon is soft and therefore scracthes easily, but if you could combine teflon with diamonds, then you'd have a surface that nothing sticks to and that wouldn't scrartch. Of course, diamonds are too expensive for that.

    So, with the rise of grown diamonds, I look forward to many advances in easy to use cooking gear.

    Thank you for your time.
    • by shirai ( 42309 ) * on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @05:10AM (#12552431) Homepage
      I rarely pick up a copy of Wired magazine nowadays but the Diamond cover was just too enticing. Lots more detail for the geeks in this article including a few choice ones I picked out in response to the parent.

      Read the Article Here [wired.com]

      In response to your comments:

      (1) The artificial diamonds from some techniques were too perfect compared to regular diamonds and could be identified.

      (2) DeBeers did launch a campaign called the "Gem Defensive Programme." From the Wired article:

      But the sudden appearance of multicarat, gem-quality synthetics has sent De Beers scrambling. Several years ago, it set up what it calls the Gem Defensive Programme - a none too subtle campaign to warn jewelers and the public about the arrival of manufactured diamonds. At no charge, the company is supplying gem labs with sophisticated machines designed to help distinguish man-made from mined stones.

      (3) Diamonds grown with another technique called Chemical Vapor Disposition are indistinguishable from naturally formed diamonds. From the wired article:

      To grow single-crystal diamond using chemical vapor deposition, you must first divine the exact combination of temperature, gas composition, and pressure - a "sweet spot" that results in the formation of a single crystal. Otherwise, innumerable small diamond crystals will rain down. Hitting on the single-crystal sweet spot is like locating a single grain of sand on the beach. There's only one combination among millions. In 1996, Linares found it. This June, he finally received a US patent for the process, which already is producing flawless stones.

      This was a very interesting article and has made me afraid of buying diamonds. It's like buying a car and having it depreciate faster than the stock market crash.
      • by viking099 ( 70446 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @07:37AM (#12553212)

        This was a very interesting article and has made me afraid of buying diamonds. It's like buying a car and having it depreciate faster than the stock market crash.

        Very few diamonds have any resale value. Only high profile (the Hope diamond, royal jewels, etc) or "fancy" (pink, bright yellow, black, etc) stones have any investment value. For most of those kinds of stones, you'd wind up paying more for the history of the stone than the stone itself.

        Everyday people will rarely is ever see any positive return on their diamond purchase. The second-hand diamond market is nearly nonexistant. If you don't believe me, go to your local pawn shop and see how much they'll give you for a diamond ring.

        If you're buying a diamond ring, you should go into it knowing that it will have very little monetary value once you've purchased it. You should purchase it for the pleasure that the recipient will have from getting it. Despite their negative reputation and horrid investment value, they're still pretty and have emotional value.
    • So, with the rise of grown diamonds, I look forward to many advances in easy to use cooking gear.

      If you're looking for advances in cooking gear, your time would be best served reading history books. Most everything used in the kitchen as we know it today was created a hundred years or more ago (fancy ergonomic handles excluded).

      Teflon [tuberose.com] or most any "coated surfaced" gear is especially nasty, unhealthy and offers a false economy of convenience. It doesn't stand up to high heat, it's limited in the kinds

      • Interesting link on Teflon, which probably has some truth to it, but I wouldn't advise most people to throw out their teflon pans, yet. The thrust of the article seemed to be that Teflon breaks down at elevated temperatures, giving off some nasty stuff when this happens. So, just don't use the pan for very high heat applications (and don't leave an empty pan too long on a hot burner) and you'll be fine. The labelling on every teflon pan I've ever bought tells you not to use the pan with high heat (althou
      • Most home kitchens don't have ranges that cook at high enough heat to cause teflon break down. Commercial kitchens use uncoated pans and plenty of oil (not butter, it would be in flames!) to keep the food from sticking. At high temps, the oil heats up enough to cook the food, acting almost like a deep fryer.

        FWIW, getting a _real_ commercial range for your house is hard. Typically, you need to bolster the floors to handle the weight, install a tile backing to protect the wall behind and a high CFM hood t
  • by jaquesparrow ( 822642 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @04:23AM (#12552295)
    Its amusing that people are automatically assuming that mass producing diamonds would make the diamond market collapse. While it certainly is a possibility it is highly unlikely due to the following reasons. 1) DeBeers can launch a new marketing ploy and sell their diamonds as naturally forming diamonds compared with man-made diamonds. They could have a larger range of diamonds and infact increase their revenue potential, by charging a higher premium on naturally occuring diamonds. Think of it as a comparision between driving a toyota and a bmw. Toyota for the masses and bmw for the clients who can afford that level of a machine. 2) All tin foil hat conspiracies aside, jewellery is not the only area where diamonds are used so extensively. While it is the most talked about and marketed, diamonds have significant number of uses in industry that such a cheap form of making diamonds would accomodate. 3) Imagine the industries this is going to spawn. Right now they have technology to do laser cutting or painting your picture into glass. Imagine doing the same with a diamond. Debeers will survive, as they will adjust their business model to accomodate this.
    • Cultured Pearls (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Frankie70 ( 803801 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @05:11AM (#12552434)
      Read this [theculturedpearl.com]. Mikimoto changed the face of the pearl market with his technique of culturing pearls.

      So potentially, the diamond market also could be changed.
    • Debeers will survive, as they will adjust their business model to accomodate this.

      Let me get this straight.. DeBeers will survive because they will adjust their business model? If they follow our favorite poster children for business model obviated by technology, they'll claim buying created diamonds is stealing, sue anyone wearing created diamonds, and legislate a ban on creating diamonds, despite a multitude of non-infringing uses, as any created diamond can be used for jewelry. Then, they'll introduce
    • by Vellmont ( 569020 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @09:05AM (#12553753) Homepage

      1) DeBeers can launch a new marketing ploy and sell their diamonds as naturally forming diamonds compared with man-made diamonds.

      This will only work if they can do two things (and they need to do BOTH of them). Convince people that a man-made diamond is somehow inferrior (possible, but I have my doubts). And more importantly, tell the difference between man-made and mined diamonds. So far DeBeers has been able to do this with expensive equipment. Don't hold your breath that this can continue though. If the diamond makers can make diamonds that are indistinguishable from mined diamonds in large quantities for cheaper than mined diamonds, the game is over.

      Debeers will survive, as they will adjust their business model to accomodate this.

      They'll probbably survive, they'll just be a MUCH smaller company that makes far less money.
  • by jigyasubalak ( 308473 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @04:24AM (#12552296)
    That every 18 months the maximum growable size of an artificial diamond will double.

    --A La Moore's Law
  • by Demerara ( 256642 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @04:24AM (#12552298) Homepage
    Slashdotters who regularly vent their anger at Micro$oft's monopoly should read about the diamond industry, monopoly and de Beers.

    Unlke MS, the diamond trade costs lives. Sierra Leone, Libera and other West African countries are in ruins because of conflict diamonds. A good book is Blood Diamonds [amazon.com] which tells the story of how gems destroyed Sierra Leone.

    So, roll on artifical gems I say.
  • Statistics? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nagora ( 177841 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @04:29AM (#12552313)
    Anyone out there have any data on how common natural diamonds actually are? DeBeers and co control the supply but diamond fields are huge; is there any reality to the idea that these gems are rare?


    • Re:Statistics? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by howman ( 170527 )
      My uncle was a jeweller and he told me that if you want something rare that you should buy a Ruby or an Emerald. Diamonds are a dime a dozen, or if DeBeers opened their warehouses, they would be.
      As to the original post, I must say, I had heard about this before too, I checked out one of the russian sites and a 5 Carat diamond was going for about $2000.
      With that said, I am waiting until I can get my GF a diamond that introduces its self as Irving before she opens her mouth to show it off.
    • Re:Statistics? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Beolach ( 518512 )
      According to the Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org], "About 130 million carats (26,000 kg) of diamonds are mined annually."
  • by photonic ( 584757 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @04:42AM (#12552358)
    I think I saw a documentary at Discovery Channel about some Russian company that already produces the machines for some years (could be this company [wired.com]). According to the show the traditional diamond industry was so worried that they developed an expensive laser system to discriminate the artificial ones from the natural ones. They could then issue a certificate of 'garanteed blood money' (TM). As a hollywood star/gangsta rapper you of course want to make sure that your hard earned money is well spent on some evil warlord [bbc.co.uk] somewhere in Africa.
    • the laser inscription on "genuine" diamonds was ostensibly put in place to prevent the sale of "blood diamonds" which fund the slaughter in various west African countries--Sierre Leon among them (as opposed to funding the oppression of South African blacks in deBeers diamond operations). I agree though, that the real reason debeers natural diamonds have laser inscriptions is to disinguish them from high quality CVD diamonds. Natural diamonds are easily distinguished from older process artificial diamonds
  • by TheLoneCabbage ( 323135 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @04:56AM (#12552399) Homepage

    It figures... 3 months after I choke on the cost of a rock for my fiancee they release a diamond the size of her head... is there anything these days that doesn't go obsolete?

    Next you'll be telling me my new computer is obsolete.

    There's always something biger, faster, more sparkly.
  • by gvc ( 167165 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @05:24AM (#12552477)
    "10-carat, half-inch thick diamonds at rates of about 100 micrometers per hour."

    This characterization will, no doubt, be oft-repeated. But what does it mean? I have no clue.

    "Carat" is a measure of weight. Weight is proportional to volume. Volume has 3 dimensions. One of the dimensions is, presumably, 1/2 inch. One of the dimensions is growing at 100 micrometers per hour. What's the 3rd dimension?

    Or are all three dimensions growing at 100 uM/h? That would make the diamond a sphere. Not a bad approximation for the shape of a crystal, I suppose. But a 1/2-inch sphere would weigh a bunch more than 10 carats. (A carat is 0.20 mg and the specific gravity of diamond is about 3).

    The statement is gibberish to me.
    • by SQL Error ( 16383 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @05:56AM (#12552591)
      The process deposits carbon on a surface, so the thickness grows at 100 micrometres per hours. The area of the surface is presumably limited by some other factors, but it clearly allows for a diameter of at least half an inch.

      Oh, and a carat is 0.2 grams. It's okay, you were only out by three orders of magnitude... I work out a half-inch sphere at about 15 carats if your density figure is right. (Checks.) Or about 18 carats based on a figure of 3.5, which is what Google coughed up.
  • Great (Score:3, Funny)

    by Jesus IS the Devil ( 317662 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @05:48AM (#12552564)
    That's great, because by the time the average /. user starts looking for one, diamonds might be a dime a dozen...
  • by joe094287523459087 ( 564414 ) <joe@@@joe...to> on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @06:02AM (#12552629) Homepage
    at the end of 2100 (3rd in the series of 2001[which was a short story actually] and 2010), it turns out that one of the moons of jupiter is covered in ... diamonds. the epilogue of the book describes a world where diamonds are as plentiful as dirt, and they are used in completely mundane ways like as a building material.

    i thought that was a fascinating thought - if diamonds were as cheap as cement, imagine how many ways you could use the hardest known substance in the world...
  • by LittleBigLui ( 304739 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @06:04AM (#12552642) Homepage Journal
    if anyone tells my girlfriend, they'll die a slow and horrible death.
  • Social implications (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SpaghettiPattern ( 609814 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @06:21AM (#12552725)
    Apart from the new technological possibilities offered by cheap diamonds, there are significant positive social implications as well. Maybe some day the bloody diamond-money funded wars will be over. Another big social innovative thing will be cheap and clean hydrogen energy. But who knows what de Beers and the oil corporations have up their sleeves that will screw us all (well, mainly those in Africa and in the middle-east).
  • Sythecthic Diamond (Score:3, Interesting)

    by KDrGreen ( 884608 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @07:51AM (#12553275)
    I work for CVD Diamond company and we already produce fake diamond but only for industrial purposes because if we were to make gem quality diamonds DeBeers would just drop the prices and we would be out of bussiness. Right we consetrating on cutting tools.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @01:11PM (#12557043) Homepage
    DeBeers and the World Diamond Council has been planning for this for years. They created the Kimberly Process [kimberleyprocess.com], a paperwork scheme to make diamonds traceable, supposedly to reduce trade in "conflict diamonds". They've been able to get the UN, the EU, and the WTO to sign off on this.

    Read their Industry scheme for regulation [kimberleyprocess.com]. Note the phrase "Not to buy any diamonds from suspect or unknown sources of supply". That's all about market control.

    Before the "Kimberly Process", diamonds were generally bought and sold, even in DeBeers showings, with no indication of origin. So introducing synthetic diamonds into the market was easier. With the "Kimberly Process" in place, it's much tougher.

    The diamond industry has been lobbying countries to require that synthetic diamonds be labelled in some way. The term "cultured diamonds" is widely used, but there's litigation in Germany to require some more negative term, like "synthetic".

    DeBeers has also developed identification devices, the DiamondSure [debeersgroup.com] and the DiamondView [debeersgroup.com] to try to sort out synthetic and natural diamonds. The diamonds produced in high-pressure presses [gemesis.com] can be identified without much trouble. But grown diamonds [apollodiamond.com] are tougher to identify.

    Long term, diamond prices will probably crash, like sapphire did once you could buy sapphire bar, tube, and rod. [maintechsapphires.com]

"For a male and female to live continuously together is... biologically speaking, an extremely unnatural condition." -- Robert Briffault