Diamond Foundry, a Santa Clara startup created by Nanosolar founder, Martin Roscheisen, aspired to grow ‘real’ diamonds in a laboratory. Compared to synthetic diamonds, these more authentic precious stones would be produced from a sliver of natural, mined diamond as its substrate.
Following two years of experiments with hit-or-miss results, Roscheisen and his team claim to have finally figured out the formula to creating these so-called ‘real’ diamonds. The company now says it is capable of growing hundreds of diamonds — ones that are up to 9 carats — in just a two-week lab duration.
The process is described as “culturing diamonds,” likening it to that of growing a plant. A small portion of a natural diamond is used as a base in order to grow new layers on top of the crystal for new diamonds to form. These bases can be reused several times to grow new diamonds, which are grown in a hot reactor that reaches around 8,000 degrees in Fahrenheit.
Whereas synthetic diamonds tend to cost about 30% less than that of more natural and mined diamonds, Diamond Foundry claims their stones will be at the same price, if not higher than market value.
“The difference is that we add atoms to natural diamonds, and in fact our process would not work without the natural diamond as a substrate,” explained a spokesperson for the company. “The synthetic diamonds in the market are made using high pressure without any substrate for growth.”
This breakthrough was so astounding that Diamond Foundry managed to pull some high-class investors, including billionaires and several members of Silicon Valley tech royalty.
Some of these investors include actor Leonard DiCaprio, Twitter/Medium founder Evan Williams, One Kings Lane co-founder Alison Pincus, Zynga founder Mark Pincus, Facebook co-founder Andrew McCollum, former Facebook COO Owen van Natta, former eBay President Jeff Skoll, Marc Benioff’s private-investment manager Mark Goldstein, David Spector of Sequoia Capital, Vast Ventures, Scott Banister, and many more.
Since starring in the film Blood Diamond, DiCaprio has been active in related activism agains the industry, which has been greatly criticized for child labor and its impact on the environment.
Diamond Foundry has additionally stated that their consumers will be put at ease as to how their diamonds were made or where they come from.
“[Ours] are pure diamond, just like industrially mined diamonds,” the company said. “But ethically and morally pure as well.”
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