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  • Narrator: It might seem like diamond jewelry

  • has been around forever, but it's only relatively recently

  • that gems like these have been a girl's best friend.

  • Diamonds are a girl's best friend

  • But this massive industry doesn't exactly have

  • a flawless reputation.

  • For years, diamonds have been linked to conflict

  • and corruption.

  • And now, consumers can buy ones grown in a lab

  • for a fraction of the cost.

  • So is this the future of diamonds, or will the glamor

  • and romance of natural diamonds last forever?

  • It took billions of years for diamonds to form beneath

  • the Earth's crust before they were discovered in India.

  • Cutting and polishing brought the rough stones to life

  • and gave them value.

  • Diamonds soon adorned nobles and royals

  • and were prized by India's colonial rulers, the British.

  • For centuries, it was thought that India

  • was the only source of diamonds

  • until gold miners accidentally discovered some in Brazil.

  • But it was an event in South Africa in 1867

  • that changed the game forever.

  • The story goes that a 15-year-old boy discovered

  • a 21-carat diamond on a riverbank.

  • No one expected to find diamonds in that area.

  • Narrator: This discovery sparked a rush of prospectors

  • to the region.

  • Bill: There's something like 50,000 people who suddenly appear

  • in the middle of essentially nowhere.

  • Narrator: One of them was Cecil Rhodes.

  • That's the same Cecil Rhodes who has been the subject

  • of protests in recent years because of his colonial legacy.

  • Back in the 1880s, he created the De Beers Mining Company,

  • a name that would soon become synonymous with diamonds.

  • The company bought out its competitors

  • like the Kimberley Mine, also known as the Big Hole.

  • By 1888, miners had extracted $450 million worth

  • of diamonds, more than $13 billion today.

  • And by the early 1900s, De Beers controlled 90%

  • of the world's diamond production.

  • That meant it could also control the price.

  • Here's how it worked.

  • De Beers created what was called a diamond syndicate

  • in London.

  • It sold rough diamonds to the syndicate,

  • which could limit the global supply and inflate prices.

  • Bill: The syndicate is absolutely key

  • to a highly profitable industry.

  • That's why diamonds remain so high in price

  • right up really until present-day times.

  • Narrator: And while Rhodes

  • and others amassed enormous wealth,

  • Black South African miners earned roughly $5 per week

  • in 1888.

  • They also worked in dangerous conditions

  • and were forced to live in unsanitary mining compounds,

  • where disease was an even bigger threat.

  • Production rose to 15.2 million carats in 1950

  • as prospectors discovered diamonds in countries

  • like Angola and Sierra Leone.

  • Announcer: You may have to sort through a truckload

  • of earth before you find one,

  • but just one decent-size diamond could set you up for life.

  • Narrator: But most of these mines were controlled

  • by European companies.

  • In other words, it was foreigners who were reaping

  • all of the rewards. And demand kept rising.

  • But diamond engagement rings still weren't that popular.

  • In fact, only 10% of American brides had one in 1940.

  • An ad campaign from De Beers soon changed that.

  • The message was clear.

  • If you loved someone, only a diamond would do.

  • Edahn: Essentially, what De Beers did

  • is said, "We want to approach everybody.

  • Not just the Elizabeth Taylors of the world.

  • We want to approach people that are middle-class."

  • Narrator: It worked.

  • Five decades after the campaign started,

  • 80% of brides were engaged with a diamond.

  • And get this: De Beers was not only telling couples

  • what to buy, but how much they should spend.

  • Narrator: And in the late '90s,

  • two months of an average salary was almost $5,000,

  • or more than $8,000 today.

  • But behind all the romance, another story of diamonds

  • was unfolding.

  • More and more unregulated mines were beginning

  • to feed diamonds into the market.

  • And in countries like Sierra Leone,

  • militia groups used diamonds to fund brutal civil wars.

  • Shamiso: They were called blood diamonds because

  • a lot of people lost their lives. They were killed,

  • they were maimed, they were injured

  • by rebels who were seeking to control

  • the diamond mining sites.

  • Narrator: Violent conflict tainted an industry

  • that took pride in an image of purity.

  • Shmuel: Diamond's a pure product.

  • It's not something that we like to have any association

  • with bloodshed or anything of that kind.

  • Narrator: In 2002, governments and mining companies

  • made an effort to clean up the supply chain.

  • Shamiso: The Kimberley Process was established to fight against

  • the use of diamonds in buying arms of war

  • and fueling conflict in those situations

  • where there are rebel movements.

  • Narrator: But blood diamonds

  • had already attracted Hollywood's attention.

  • That diamond could be priceless.

  • We split it and you get your family.

  • What's it going to be, yes or no?

  • Yes or no?

  • Narrator: The 2006 blockbuster starring Leonardo DiCaprio

  • put the diamond industry on edge.

  • What is particularly disturbing is it shows

  • the awful period of the conflict.

  • Our goal was not to discourage people from buying diamonds

  • or wearing diamonds. It's really to shine light

  • on the way the Western companies do business in Africa.

  • Narrator: Activists hoped it might make a difference.

  • We're trying to create a world where people can go in

  • and buy diamonds and know that those diamonds

  • don't have blood on them.

  • Narrator: Demand didn't really change.

  • But De Beers had other problems.

  • In the early 2000s, the company pleaded guilty

  • to price fixing.

  • A few years later, it paid almost $300 million

  • to settle class-action lawsuits accusing it of overcharging

  • for diamonds.

  • De Beers could no longer operate as a monopoly,

  • and its century-long reign

  • as the world's largest diamond producer

  • was coming to a close.

  • In 2014, the Russian company Alrosa

  • became the biggest diamond supplier.

  • Since then, De Beers' revenue has declined by more than half.

  • And now there is another threat to the diamond industry:

  • diamonds -- the ones that are grown in a lab.

  • Unlike moissanite or cubic zirconia, lab-grown diamonds

  • are chemically identical to the ones that come from a mine.

  • Gwyneth: There are almost no differences between lab-grown diamonds

  • and mined diamonds.

  • One is just manufactured, and the other one comes

  • from the earth.

  • Narrator: Diamond Foundry in California

  • has been growing diamonds since 2015.

  • It all starts with a diamond seed.

  • And it could be a mined diamond or a lab-grown diamond

  • that you start the process from.

  • Narrator: Lasers slice the diamond into thin layers.

  • These seeds go into a plasma reactor that's as hot

  • as the outer layer of the sun.

  • It takes just three weeks to go from this, to this.

  • Gwyneth: You can see it's kind of in its rough form,

  • just like you would find in the earth.

  • In fact, if you saw it, it looks like a pebble or stone

  • that you might see on the sandy beach.

  • You wouldn't necessarily recognize it.

  • Narrator: Jewelers cut and set the gems,

  • which are then sold under the company's brand, Vrai.

  • A 2-carat ring like this costs around $4,000.

  • That's less than one month of today's average salary.

  • Grace: We're creating this absolutely gorgeous piece.

  • It's at a more affordable price point,

  • so it's kind of an accessible luxury.

  • Narrator: And it's a growing market.

  • In 2010, less than 10% of consumers knew

  • about lab-grown diamonds.

  • But in 2018, consumer awareness had grown to over 50%.

  • Experts estimate the market volume will grow

  • to 19.2 million carats in 2030, as retailers like Pandora

  • are swapping mined diamonds for lab-grown ones.

  • Diamond Foundry says within the next five years,

  • it will produce 10 million carats per year.

  • And not just for jewelry.

  • Gwyneth: Diamond has huge implications in cloud computing,

  • 5G, 6G technologies, AI, and electric cars.

  • Narrator: Even De Beers got in on the action

  • and launched a lab-grown brand in 2018.

  • So what will happen to diamond mines?

  • Global diamond production fell to 111 million carats

  • in 2020.

  • That's because major mines are closing,

  • like this one that was famous for its pink diamonds.

  • And the legacy of forced labor and supply-chain transparency

  • is something mining companies are still trying to escape,

  • especially as studies show that younger consumers care more

  • about ethics.

  • But experts say diamond mining shouldn't be written off

  • just yet.

  • Shamiso: This is an important source of livelihood,

  • but I think in order for African countries to benefit,

  • they should clean up their act so that the natural diamonds

  • can compete with the lab-grown diamonds.

  • Narrator: And diamond jewelry remains popular.

  • Even sales that dipped in 2020 are back in full force.

  • Edahn: This year, we're already looking at probably

  • around $94 billion, $95 billion.

  • Narrator: So whether they're mined from the earth

  • or grown in a lab, diamonds haven't yet lost their shine.

Narrator: It might seem like diamond jewelry

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Can Diamonds Made In A Lab Replace Natural Ones? | Rise And Fall

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    moge0072008 發佈於 2022 年 01 月 02 日
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