By Michelle Graff
A screenshot from Altr’s 2 minute, 14 second video showing how diamonds are grown using the chemical vapor deposition, or CVD, process.

Last week, I had the chance to catch up with Amish Shah, president of lab-grown diamond company Altr, about a video Altr is releasing giving consumers a look inside the company’s growing facility.

That was, of course, before the big jewelry industry news broke that De Beers would begin selling jewelry set with diamonds grown by its own Element Six at a new facility outside of Portland, Oregon. 

As I wrote in covering the story Tuesday, it is big, but not shocking, jewelry industry news. Element Six has been growing diamonds for industrial purposes—for items like drills and speakers—since 1946, and there has long been speculation about when De Beers would begin producing gem-quality lab-grown diamonds as well.

Now, this is certainly a story we will be following up on to analyze what it means for the industry, to assess De Beers’ goals in getting into lab-growns, and to gauge industry reaction, some of which already has begun to filter in online. (My favorite so far comes from a LinkedIn commenter: “Sometimes fighting the future is not worth the pain.” Excellent point, sir.)  

I am on my way to Las Vegas as I write this, and hope to hear from many in the industry there. If you are not headed to Vegas and would like to weigh in on De Beers’ decision to enter the jewelry end of the lab-grown market, feel free to email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or leave your thoughts below in the comments.

In the meantime, I wanted to share this video Altr is releasing giving consumers a condensed view of how it grows diamonds using the chemical vapor deposition (CVD) process at its facility in India. You can watch the video below as well as on the Altr website starting today.

Shah said a professional team of 26 from Open Design & Strategy shot the timelapse video.

It shows the CVD process--sped up to 2 minutes and 14 seconds--starting from when the Type IIa diamond seed, which is as thin as 1 millimeter, is placed in one of Altr’s proprietary reactors. It then shows it emerging with a polycarbon shell that’s removed using a water-jet laser, and culinates with the cutting and polishing process that turns the rough man-made diamond into a polished stone.

Shah said the video is designed to be educational, not advertorial, clearing up confusion among consumers. 

“Everybody still has a myth about [lab-grown] diamonds,” Shah said. “Most people haven’t seen one or know about it.”

But they hear about them and they want to know: What is a man-created diamond? How is it grown? Who made it?

“This is us taking one more step forward so that today a retailer can show it to their guests (and say), this is where it’s coming from, this is how it’s being made,” he said.

Shah’s assertions are backed up by the research De Beers cited in its news release about entering the lab-grown diamond jewelry market, which stated: “We’ve learned from our research that there is a lot of confusion about lab-grown diamonds.”

Consumer confusion also was stressed in the recent survey results released by the Diamond Producers Association, which circulated an interesting press release last week via email with the subject line, “Laboratory-Grown Diamonds Aren’t Considered ‘Real.’”

I am scheduled to conduct a sit-down interview with DPA head Jean-Marc Lieberherr this week at the jewelry trade shows so the “realness” of lab-grown diamonds and the DPA’s survey is a subject that I plan to return to in a future blog post, because there is a lot to unpack there.

For now, though, I asked Shah—who obviously has a very specific viewpoint on the matter as the head of a lab-grown diamond company—about education, consumers' misconceptions and the industry’s perception of lab-grown diamonds in general, and he made what I consider to be a solid point: “Today’s consumer makes an informed purchase. We as an industry are just trying to catch up with this.”

If there are misconceptions and/or confusion about lab-grown diamonds, it’s because the industry hasn’t done enough to educate consumers up until this point. But, as more stores start to carry man-made diamonds, they will get educated when they come into a store and then make their choice.

“As an industry, rather than creating confusion, I think we should look at education and we will all have growth. That’s what I believe,” Shah said.

For those interested in meeting Shah and learning more about Altr, you can visit them at the JCK Las Vegas jewelry trade show, which starts Friday, June 1 at Mandalay Bay. They are in booth No. S10600 in the Currents section across from the Plumb Club.

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