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.
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
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.