By Michelle Graff

Over the years, rumors have popped up from time to time about mining giant De Beers getting in the business of growing diamonds in a laboratory. The most recent round of rumors that I can recall--and please drop me a line (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) if you know of more up-to-date reports--came in 2008, with article such as this and this.

So when the story surfaced about lab-grown diamond company Gemesis cultivating decent-sized white diamonds and larger, better quality yellows, it prompted me to ask De Beers if they have any ambitions in the lab-grown arena.

After all, according to this factually questionable blog posted here and here and I'm sure countless other places on the Internet by now, these reports about lab-grown diamonds have "panic brewing" for De Beers. I can't tell who authored this post--or from where they got any of their facts and figures--but that's the way of the Internet. Anybody with a functioning laptop can log in and post entries such as this, which then end up on countless other Web sites, blogs and so-called news sites. This is the kind of stuff about the Internet that really grinds my gears as a journalist, but I digress.

So I asked De Beers what they thought of the Gemesis announcement and if they had any plans for marketing lab-grown diamonds through industrial diamond arm Element Six.

Here's what they had to say: "De Beers has no intention of entering that market," spokeswoman Lynette Gould wrote. "All our research shows that when it comes to diamond jewelry, people overwhelmingly want the real thing."

Their answer clearly indicates that they have no interest in getting into the business of growing diamonds---or least this is what they are telling me on the record right now. And while I don't doubt there is some concern over lab-grown competition, I don't think De Beers or any independent retailers are, or need to be, flipping the panic switch following that Gemesis report.

I think there is room for mined diamonds and lab-grown stones to co-exist in the market. There are going to be consumers who want traditional mined diamonds because they are well, traditional, and because of the beauty and romance tied to the idea of heat and pressure combining over billions of years to create their stone.

Then there are going to be those who are intrigued with the science and innovation involved in growing a diamond in a lab and also might be attracted to these stones' relatively lower price and lack of thorny ethical issues.

There are still others who'll never own a diamond in their lifetime due to personal style preferences, financial circumstances or the desire to go a different route with their engagement ring, as has been much buzzed about lately with the engagement of Prince William to Catherine Middleton using the late Princess Diana's sapphire ring.

Lab-grown stones simply give consumers another choice and could even bring new diamond consumers to the market, those who are priced out of owning a mined stone of the carat size they desire or turned off by the ethical issues surrounding mined diamonds.

There's no reason for panic to be brewing, at De Beers or anywhere else in the market.

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