How mad would you be to learn that synthetic moissanite is not ‘star dust’ nor ‘the most
brilliant gem in the world,” or that lab-grown diamonds are not “eco-friendly with a close to
zero carbon footprint,” as promoted, frequently and without shame, by sellers of lab-grown
If you bought an antique pendant set with a beautiful blue sapphire at auction, and recently
discovered it is a synthetic sapphire, you should be mad at the auctioneer for not disclosing
the nature of the sapphire. Would you be mad enough to sue the company that made these claims, or, at least, report them to consumer protection agencies? Mad yes, but in South Africa there are more
things to be even madder about. Over many decades, the SA public has been subjected to
lies by politician and white-collar criminals, and the pay-back of the few whose corruption
got exposed, was minimal. Most corrupt politicians and devious businesses get away with
their crimes due to a lack of political will, the cost of litigation and the absence of
enforceable rules. So why should anyone care about mis-leading advertising in an industry
When the average SA consumer realizes he fell for another diamond Ponzi scheme or was
sold a potato, he would complain and bad-mouth all jewellers – and continue being a sucker
– as if the omnipresence of lies had made him punch-drunk. Most of us do not even
recognize misleading advertising and very few will be mad enough to take action and report
it. A sad story in an industry where trust and ethics are supposed to be its backbone.
A closer look at the world of synthetic gemstones reveals a confusing story of truth and
hyperbole, a lack of state regulations, consumer lethargy, and stout resistance from sellers
of lab-grown materials.
One of the most outrageous claims came from a certain Mr Payne CEO of Apollo Gems??
“ who recently said: “Taking it further, growing diamonds have a net-positive impact on the
environment. Most of the lab diamonds produced today permanently convert the worse
greenhouse gas on earth (methane) into stunning diamonds.” It is true that methane gas is
used in one of the processes (CVD) to grow diamonds.
But, the amount of carbon captured in 5 000 000 carats of lab-grown is less than 1000kg – an insignificant amount compared to the thousands of tons of carbon that is daily delivered to our atmosphere. It is more probably that energy needed in the CVD process and the manufacturing and mining of methane gas used in the process, release more carbon than what it captures.
By clever and not so ethical claims. the sellers of lab-grown gems have captured a
significant portion of the engagement market, However, the total collapse in the wholesale
price of their product may soon drive them back to the natural market.