A SYN­THETIC HIS­TORY

Di­a­mond Foundry’s high­tech process is poised to bring lab-grown di­a­monds to the masses—but it’s hardly the first up­start to bet on man­u­fac­tur­ing fine jewels.

Inc. (USA) - - INNOVATE -

1945: LAB- GROWN GEMSTONES ARE BORN Cal­tech grad Car­roll F. Chatham’s San Fran­cisco– based Chatham Cre­ated Gems & Di­a­monds pi­o­neered com­mer­cial-scale lab-grown gemstones—ru­bies, emer­alds, and sap­phires. To­day, Chatham’s son runs the com­pany, which be­gan man­u­fac­tur­ing col­ored di­a­monds in the 1980s.

1990: DI­A­MONDS BUILT

FOR COM­PUT­ING

Robert Linares, a Bell Labs PhD with an ex­per­tise in crys­tal-growth tech­nol­ogy, founded Bos­ton-based Apollo Di­a­mond, which grew di­a­monds—long cov­eted for their ther­mal con­duc­tiv­ity—for in­dus­tries like nan­otech­nol­ogy and com­put­ing.

1996: WHITE DI­A­MONDS GET A MAN­MADE MAKEOVER Re­tired Army bri­gadier gen­eral Carter Clarke founded Sara­sota, Florida–based Geme­sis us­ing Rus­sian tech­nol­ogy to mass pro­duce gem-grade di­a­monds. It took the com­pany 15 years to man­u­fac­ture its first white di­a­mond—a process much more com­plex than pro­duc­ing the yel­low di­a­monds it had pre­vi­ously been mak­ing.

2005: SYNTHETICS MAKE THEIR E- COM­MERCE DE­BUT En­trepreneurs Beth Ger­stein and Eric Gross­berg opened Santa Clara, Cal­i­for­nia—based Bril­liant Earth, an on­line re­tailer founded to sell “eth­i­cal” jewelry that uses only lab-grown di­a­monds. To­day, they claim to be the cat­e­gory’s largest di­rect-to­con­sumer seller.

2015: DIY DI­A­MOND RING Two years af­ter pur­chas­ing a lab-grown di­a­mond en­gage­ment ring, hus­band-and­wife team Ja­son Payne and Lind­say Rein­smith opened Sil­i­con Val­ley–based re­tailer Ada Di­a­monds, where cus­tomers can de­sign their own syn­thetic di­a­mond jewelry—up to 10 carats.

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