Lab-Grown Diamonds vs. Natural Diamonds: Where should I invest?

I get the facts from industry expert and
diamond expert Neil Duttson.

Neil Duttson

He is known in the industry as a Rockstar of natural diamonds. He has been interviewed by the likes of the BBC and CNN. He is a staple member of the gem and jewellery community, contributing his wealth of experience and knowledge about investing in diamonds.

His name is Neil Duttson and I felt incredibly fortunate to be able to sit down and chat to him about lab grown and natural diamonds. Having studied at both The Gemmological
Institute of America (GIA) and HRD Antwerp, Neil Duttson has made a name for himself and
is now an authority figure in the world of diamonds and jewelry. Not only has Neil
founded two successful businesses dealing with some of the most precious stones in the
world, but he has had the privilege to own two of the rarest red diamonds ever unearthed. As
an experienced, well educated and respected member of the industry, it is no wonder that
Neil is often invited to speak on a number of topics such as wealth retention through the
use of jewellery or global trends in regards to engagement rings.

Necklace designed by Neil Duttson

In this Q&A, Neil and I get to grips with the topic of lab-grown diamonds and their affect
on the industry today. And the dead bodies.

F: What has been the oddest idea or use of diamonds that you’ve come across so far in your
N: The weirdest thing that I’ve seen has to be these lab grown diamonds made from dead bodies. You can turn the ashes of relatives or pets that have passed away in to a diamond. Now you see people wearing these diamonds around their neck or finger. It just doesn’t seem right and those are my thoughts on that. Also, the colour is not desirable. Far from being gem quality.

F: You have to give a Ted Talk. What topic will you choose to discuss?
N: Why I am ‘Anti’ when it comes to lab grown diamonds! The reason I am ‘Anti’ is … How can you compare, something that nature makes organically over billions of years, with something that takes days in a factory? It is just not right. Natural is everything.

It is like when you put a face cream onto your face…you are following your instincts while just
choosing a natural face cream. You don’t want to go with products that are far from natural. You don’t need animal tests or harsh chemicals. We like natural processes. I like natural diamonds. If lab grown diamonds took over the world and the jewellery industry, in Africa alone, we would see ten million jobs lost. That’s just in Africa. We know that Africa is a very beautifully rich continent, however run by some very dark forces in various countries that steal everything. But the African slice within the diamond industry – the life of about ten million people would be affected. It is just one continent. It is not the world.

The issue is that they are becoming better and better at making laboratory grown diamonds.
Especially in melee size. These small diamonds can be spotted but still the unaware retailers can be tricked. De Beers, and other big companies for example, have machines to check the tiny melee diamond parcels effectively.

N: Twenty years ago, when I learned the business, we knew that there are small metallic inclusions inside in the lab-grown diamonds so we could spot them. But they became so good at cheating with glass filling, laser injecting and taking out impurities, that it became hard to trace methods. Also, they heat treat these stones to add colour to them. I think there are a lot of people out there today wearing a ring on their finger and thinking that their diamond is real, when in fact, it isn’t. All the while they had been charged for a natural diamond. This is not ethical.

Not every lab-grown diamond can become gem quality. Most of them are used for industrial machinery. Their production effects the environment, and although this can be improved, it
is still vital for consumers to understand the full environmental impact of lab grown diamonds
versus traditionally mined natural diamonds.. There are not many people who understand the industry. They are centered around making money as fast as possible. That’s not really what we are about. I fell in love with natural diamonds when I studied 20 years ago…just like yourself Franka.

I think that these laboratory diamonds will have a negative effect on our industry. There are
speculations that the laboratory-grown diamonds will take over the natural diamonds. This means at the same time that natural diamond prices will increase. Anything that is natural has a higher value: it is a collectible.
F: What are your opinions on using diamonds as a form of financial investment?
N: I don’t like to use the word “investment” when I talk about diamonds. I call it the “Store of Wealth” because I don’t think that [investment] is the right word. Storing your wealth in something that is storable and transportable, like a Picasso painting, is a really good store.

Ring designed by Neil Duttson

F: So if I were to ‘Store my Wealth’ using diamonds, where would be a good place to start?
N: Hypothetically, if one bought a diamond that is an amazing quality; Argyle pink and it is 2.00
carats. It stores wealth and it is a brilliant… portable, great investment to pass down on generations, but you can wear it and enjoy it whilst you are living. You can legally wear it, travel with it – and if you hit rock bottom and can’t pay your mortgage, you can sell it.

I think pinks, blues, greens, vivid yellows – Zimbabwean yellows – are perfect as a store of wealth. With the right advice of a diamantaire and the right due diligence, you are going to do really well financially. Especially with the Argyle mine, as it is well known, to be closed in 2021. The diamonds’ value is increasing exponentially and in quantum jumps as the scarcity aspect kicks in.
To clarify further, the Argyle mine is currently producing 90% of the world’s pinks whilst 90% of the World’s pinks won’t be available any longer, they are only going to go north in price. There are a lot of investors out there wanting to collect a store of wealth and they will buy in.

Chocolate, champagne, vanilla, black and cognac diamonds are great for jewellery. It is down to the individual to wear what they like. You can’t talk people out of what they love. Their names are very good marketing tools however, these are not in the same group with the earlier mentioned.

Want to keep up to date with Neil Duttson? Check out Eden Rocks Diamonds and Duttson Rocks

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Bespoke diamonds and jewellery Paris-London-Milan 


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