You stare into the brilliance of your just-purchased diamond and quietly laud nature's handiwork. Little knowing that scientists in a Chinese or Swedish lab deserve your pat, or that you deserve a refund from the guy who sold it as a natural diamond.
Man-made diamonds, just as sparkling but half as pricey, are being passed off as natural ones at outlets across India. Mumbai traders have found out that some in the fraternity are importing synthetic diamonds at a low price and selling them as expensive natural ones. The extent of the racket is not known.
In most countries, man-made diamonds - made by placing a small diamond 'seed' in a lab environment containing carbon and using a process that copies the natural conditions for diamond formation - are sold clearly tagged as cheaper variants. But in India's Rs 70,000 crore diamond industry, the distinction between natural and artificial is getting blurred.
Man-made diamonds are considered real as they are optically, physically and chemically similar. They look so identical, the difference can be pointed out only by scientific instruments available with gem-testing labs.
"The only difference is the limit to size," said a Mumbai trader. This is because of the technology and equipment available with the producer. Most colorless, man-made diamonds range from 0.50 to 1.50 carats.
"Around Rs 30,000 crore worth man-made diamonds are floating in the global market disguised as natural ones," said Hardik Hundiya, diamond market expert. He said one should check lab certificates before buying diamonds and only buy from trusted dealers.
Though there is no confirmed figure on the amount of man-made diamonds being sold as natural in India, traders suspect it to be around 10% of the global figure, or around Rs 3,000 crore.
Naresh Mehta of Pancha-ratna Cooperative Housing Society, a major diamond hub in Mumbai, confirmed that such a thing is happening.
Delhi-based Ratnesh Jain of the All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation, said, "It's very difficult to differentiate them from the original ones. Their sale in Delhi cannot be ruled out, but no case has come to our notice."
(Inputs from Darpan Singh)