is something so special about diamonds, and they are so valuable,
that people have always been prepared to go to the most extraordinary
lengths to find them. But how would we feel about the uniqueness
of diamonds if it was possible to make one in a laboratory, just
like the real thing, down to the nearest atom? In the last few years
there has been a scientific race to do exactly this: to manufacture
the perfect gem diamond.
the dream is close to becoming reality. Science
has finally found a way to replicate in a few days something that
nature has taken millions of years to produce - diamonds.
These man-made diamonds are so close to the real thing, that they
have the same atomic structure as natural diamonds. Even the most
sophisticated machines are finding it hard to tell the difference.
More importantly, these diamonds can be made and sold at a profit.
is the story of the race to produce man-made gem diamonds, from
the first faltering steps 50 years ago, to today's 'New Alchemists'
in Russia who are using the latest science and technology to produce
perfect synthetic diamonds in an array of colours and sizes. And
it is the story of how this leap in diamond-making technology has
forced De Beers to develop ever-more sophisticated detection equipment,
trying to spot the synthetics, while the physical distinction between
real and man-made diamonds becomes more and more blurred.
there are alarm bells ringing at De Beers in Johannesburg. De Beers
controls the world diamond trade. By buying up most of the world's
uncut diamonds, the company can regulate supply to select dealers,
increasing it in good years and reducing it in bad, to keep prices
high. Every year 3 billion pounds worth of rough diamonds are distributed
around the world for cutting and polishing.
diamond market survives on public confidence. Already De Beers spends
a fortune trying to detect synthetic gems, and teach wholesalers
and graders what the molecular differences are. But imagine if these
synthetics had exactly the same properties as real diamonds, each
atom in place, every manufacturing flaw removed, leaving something
indistinguishable from the real thing. They would be undetectable.
What would a real diamond be then? To many, the difference would
be purely psychological. And so what would happen to public confidence
in the natural diamond market?
to the new alchemists, this is all just about to happen.
The story of the world's first synthetic