Chintan Suhagiya is only 26, but already has seven years experience working in India’s diamond industry. Starting out, he ferried diamonds around his company, based in the world’s diamond polishing capital, Surat in western India. But over the years he learnt how to inspect diamonds and now he grades their quality, using specialist equipment.
His career has been transformed by a seismic shift in the diamond industry. Until two years ago, all the diamonds he inspected were natural – pulled from the ground at diamond mines. Now he works with diamonds grown in special machines, part of the industry that barely existed 10 years ago but, thanks to improved technology, has seen explosive growth.
Lab-grown diamonds (LGDs) so closely resemble natural diamonds that even experts have to look closely. “No naked eye can tell the difference between natural and lab-grown diamonds,” says Mr Suhagiya.
“The natural diamonds and lab-grown diamonds are so similar that once, even after a lab test there was a confusion about the origin of a diamond. The diamond had to be tested twice to make sure that it was a lab-grown,” he says. Natural diamonds are formed at great heat and pressure deep underground and, since the 1950s, scientists have been trying to recreate that process above ground – resulting in two techniques.
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