In my old hometown in Ohio there’s a company that manufactures industrial synthetic diamonds, useful in a thousand different applications of precision cutting, polishing, machining, heat sinks, and optics. It’s a big business.
The technology has been cutting edge, so to speak, for decades.
We’re not talking about cubic zirconia. These are bonafide crystalized carbon, hard as or harder than engagement ring stones, capable of holding up under intense industrial hard work.
The key to this business, naturally, is making these stones economically and in volume. Because if you’re a customer manufacturer—say you use industrial diamonds in, I don’t know, tools needed to make dishtowels—you might need thousands. You don’t go into an International Diamond Center store and say, “Yeah, write me up for about 8,000 of these.” I’m sure this Ohio company has a lot of customers. They’ve been there since at least the ‘80s. So they’re established by now.
Word always was that any jeweler in the world could tell a manufactured industrial diamond from a mined one with one glance. Nothing to be concerned about, boys and girls. First of all, you’re making diamonds for someone who is going to use them to grind things. So you’re not caring about color or clarity or any of that. These things might have all the attractiveness of sand. Second, well, I don’t know. I’m no jeweler. But we’re on trust, right? Jewelers can tell. Move on.
When I was up visiting recently, I was riding around with a local. As she drove, she was catching me up on changes in the old neighborhood. We took a shortcut through an industrial park and happened to drive past this place. It’s a low-slung, unassuming, factory-type building, surrounded by more impressive buildings. The sign out front is rather unspecific, announcing something like “So-And-So Materials and Technologies.” The place is about as eye-grabbing as a plastics fabricator. Locals know what it is, though. It’s a bit of a landmark.
As we drove past, she observed:
“You know, they’ve got it now so they can make diamonds that are indistinguishable from the real things. You can’t tell anymore. They don’t dare though, because if word got out, it could collapse the worldwide diamond market.”
My first thought: Oh, come on. Local gossip can be fun, but really. You believe they’ve cracked the crystal code on making real diamonds?
My second thought: Wow. Even if that’s not true, it’s close enough that it could be the basis of a fantastic story.
Can you imagine someone getting his hands on a technology that is so earth-shaking it could collapse the worldwide jewelry market? What would that be worth? What lengths would Big Diamond go to stop it? Oh, I know; Big Diamond’s a wholesome industry, they wouldn’t play dirty. But let’s pretend.