Diamond Curiosity

How do you know that DeBeers isn’t fabricating diamonds in a lab and then emblazoning them with a serial number as if they were found in some mine in Africa? Then, they sell them for insane margins and remain a huge controller of diamonds.

Lab made diamonds are the same chemically and tend to be more pure as well as easier to make than diamonds mined in Africa, but they’re cheaper. They are cheaper to produce, and DeBeers doesn’t have a monopoly on them. Diamond prices are artificially inflated by DeBeers and exported in limited quantities.

But people insist on paying for them. Why is this? Is it that people truly care about the superficial sake of diamonds mined in Africa? Is it that they are uneducated and don’t know that diamonds are only pure and good if they’re found in a mine? Am I completely nuts to think that this is a fascinating sociological phenomena?

Take a look at two diamonds side by side. Without examining the serial number, that some human being decided to laser etch into the side, and I doubt you could tell the difference. The attributes are the same, but the lab created diamond is significantly less expensive.

Why is the DeBeers diamond more expensive and why do people buy them?

Is it for the resale value? If so, that means a bunch of other people are convinced that a certificate or serial number is the only thing making this diamond better than another one which is chemically identical (and sometimes even more flawless). That means, a human created piece of paper values it much higher (random thought: this reminds me of diplomas).

Why do people treasure these things mined in Africa so much?

Then again, why is anything so valuable?

Social experiment time!

Let’s say someone proposes to you or gives you a diamond for some reason. You accept it. It’s stunning and flawless.

People notice it on your finger, in your ears, or neck and ogle at it. They admire it and tell you how amazing it looks. They tell all their friends; it goes viral.

Do you tell them it was created in a lab and risk them thinking that it’s less admirable and special? Or do you just live it up?

Please let me know, I’m fascinated and perplexed by this!


Matt is the cofounder and CTO of Sidestep – a company that lets you pre-order concert merch and skip the line. He's a serial entrepreneur who worked at Apple, Rockadoo and Cofactor software.

San Francisco, CA
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