Posted on 15th September 2012
I would like to bring to your attention to another ethical alternative to conventional mined stones : cultured gemstones
Culturing gems is not a new phenomenon – 90% of all pearls on the market are cultured. These are socially acceptable and loved for their beauty and are also ethically sound (although in a lot of cases hard to trace). Cultured pearls are not viewed as fake or synthetic and nor should they be as they are chemically identical and take a great deal of skill and artistry to create. So why do people think of cultured gemstones such as diamonds or sapphire as such?
Cultured gemstones are a fantastic alternative to mined ones from an environmental perspective – no mining! They are also completely conflict free and 100% traceable as they are created under highly controlled conditions in a laboratory using advanced processes that replicate the conditions under which diamonds naturally develop deep in the earth in either the USA or Switzerland. Like cultured pearls they are chemically identical to their natural counterparts. Due to the controlled environment they are created in they are mostly all at the higher end of the clarity and colour scales. The only way to tell the difference is under extremely high magnification with specialist equipment i.e. the naked eye will not tell the difference. Cultured stones are also significantly cheaper per carat than a mined stone, so what isn’t there to like about them?!
I do agree that there is a little less of a romantic halo around a cultured gemstone – there is something almost fairy tale like about a pearl found in the ocean or a diamond found deep underground – an exquisite gift from mother nature. The same is true of cultured gemstones and I think it is quite a big hurdle to get over. These are widely acknowledge facts, what are lesser known facts are the association of gemstones – particularly diamonds with the skeletons in the closet including huge human rights transgressions, use in funding conflicts (blood diamonds) and the environmental damage from large scale mining. These make the romantic qualities harder to balance. In my view Fairtrade and ecological gemstones are the holy grail – however cultured gemstones are a great alternative, especially if budgets are an issue.
Diamonds are arguably the most beautiful raw material that can be found naturally occurring in the earth – For each person a most special property of a diamond will probably be different, but here is a list of my personal favourites
1) The way the light reflects and refracts off the facets – it reminds me of beautiful days spent in the snow high up in the mountains with the most important person in my life.
2) The fact that they are the hardest substance on the planet, the only thing that can cut a diamond is a diamond. A lovely symbolism for unbreakable love.
3) That they are what they are because of what life and the earth has thrown at it. Out of extreme pressure, heat and carbon dust this beautiful gemstone occurs in the heart of the earth – it is all quite magical, romantic and symbolic.
4) Until a diamond is cut it is a relatively none descript piece of opaque rock. Cut by a skilled person it transforms into something of unequalled beauty and value.