Lab-Grown Diamonds. The World of Martin Roscheisen

How to choose them? Interview with Martin Roscheisen, Diamond Foundry Chief Executive

Lab-Grown Diamonds have been in production since the 1950s, used commercially for weapons and machinery, yet only now are these man-made gemstones starting to gain traction in the consumer jewelry market, with the US taking the lead. While the traditional jewelry industry finds itself confused by their arrival, tech companies in Silicon Valley like Diamond Foundry are throwing money and influence at these alternative diamonds. While they have never been near a pit, these gems should not be confused with synthetic stones. Made in labs using technology that mimics the same geological pressures that create diamonds beneath the earth’s surface, they are nearly gemmologically identical to mined diamonds. The retail price, though, is 30% less. Within Diamond Foundry’s headquarters in California, it uses proprietary technology to grow diamonds up to 9cts in size within weeks, and has an annual production capability of 24,000cts. The company was started in 2012 by Martin Roscheisen, founder of the so- lar power company Nanosolar, and engineers Jeremy Scholz, and Kyle Gazay. In November 2015, it ocially launched with an initial batch of 160 diamonds that sold out in two weeks. Around the same time, Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio put out a powerful en- dorsement on Twitter: «I’m proud to invest in Diamond Foundry Inc. – cultivating real diamonds in America without the human and environmental toll of mining». A string of other well-known figures – including Twitter founder Evan Williams, Facebook co-founder Andrew McCollum, and former eBay president Jeff Skoll – joined him in investing in Diamond Foundry, helping it to raise US$100 million. While the tech heads and environmentalists are convinced, what about jewelry buyers? Diamond Foundry Chief Executive Martin Roscheisen tells us, it’s simply a matter of time.

«The diamond industry should not be concerned about losing 10% to non-mined when it already lost 50% to ethics. Unmined is helping to restore and rejuvenate the diamond dream.»

How big is the market for lab-grown diamonds?

In 20 years, 100% of all diamonds will be man made because there’s no earth supply left by then, according to the large miners. There’s been no new mine discovered in 25 years. So today we are somewhere between 1% and 100%. But there’s certainty it’ll be 100% in 20 years.

Do lab-grown diamonds pose a threat to mined diamonds?

The diamond industry has lost a lot of buyers over the past decade. There’s a lot of women who insist they do not want a di- amond because a diamond is seen as questionable as to the ethics and as to the cultural val- ues they convey. These same women are now happy to receive a cultivated diamond. So this is not a net zero market. The diamond industry should not be concerned about losing 10% to non-mined when it already lost 50% to ethics. Unmined is helping to restore and rejuvenate the diamond dream.

Can your diamonds be graded like mined diamonds?

Each is graded by a GIA gemmologist and laser inscribed with our signature. Buyers receive a true certificate from us – that’s a warranty that provides legal recourse. Do people really crave lab-grown diamonds, or are they simply a means to an end – be that solving problems with ethics, supply or price? If you ask people abstractly whether they would buy a synthetic diamond, people tend to be disinclined. But that’s like asking someone in 1990 whether they would buy an electric car, at a time when the only electric cars in existence were golf carts. When people see our diamonds in a store and understand their cultivation, there is zero resistance. We lose virtually no customers once they are educated. Cultivated diamonds are simply a better product all around.

Words Rachel Taylor

Photo Coutesy Diamond Foundry

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