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Carbon: Unnatural wonders

7 March 2014 Last updated at 16:31 GMT

To a chemist, it is a three-dimensional cubic lattice of carbon atoms. To the rest of us, it is the ultimate status symbol. But that is not all a diamond is.

Presenter Justin Rowlatt goes to the brand new research centre of Element 6, one of the biggest manufacturers of synthetic diamonds, to see the surprising industrial uses to which these crystals are put.

He hears from the journalist Chaim Even Zohar, who exposed the man-made stones being fraudulently passed off as natural ones, and from the author Matthew Hart about how a lowly prospector called Charles Fipke toppled the mighty De Beers from its pedestal.

As if that were not enough, he travels to De Beers' headquarters at Charterhouse Street in London, to put it to marketing head Stephen Lussier that the advent of synthetic gemstones means the South African mining behemoth's days are numbered.

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