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Developer Says Lab-Created Diamonds Are Like Real Thing, But Cheaper

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Consumers can now save thousands of dollars on diamonds, with a technological breakthrough that allows them to be created in a lab.

As CBS2's Maurice DuBois reported, it is hard to deny the brilliance and beauty of diamonds. And instead of spending millions of years below ground in the earth, the lab-created diamonds are developed in a matter of weeks in pressurized containers.

"It's a new technology for gem-quality diamonds," said Lisa Bissell, chief executive officer of Pure Grown Diamonds.

But not everyone likes the idea.

"I like the real thing," one woman said. "Diamonds are girl's best friend."

"You got to buy the real thing," a man said.

But Bissell said the lab diamonds are not different in any material way.

"They have all the optical, chemical and physical properties of mined diamonds, and they're 100 percent carbon because they're genuine diamonds," she said.

They are created in a Singapore laboratory.

"(It's) a small piece of carbon that's placed in low-pressure microwave chamber. Hydrogen and methane gases are added to the chamber, and then the miracle begins," Bissell said.

The ultimate result is a high-grade gem with the same properties as a natural diamond. But it costs about 30 percent less.

Still, a stone created in a lab -- no matter how brilliant -- still takes some getting used to.

"'I wed thee with a lab grown diamond' -- it doesn't define the moment," said Reuven Kaufman, president of the Diamond Dealers' Club of New York. "It doesn't adequately portray the emotion."

And even with significant consumer savings, diamond manufacturer Kaufman insisted that nothing can replace the real thing.

"If you can't afford it, buy a smaller real diamond. Buy a more imperfect diamond. Use a layaway plan," he said.

But John King of the Gemological Institute said lab-grown diamonds are essentially the same as natural ones, and it's just a matter of educating consumers.

"I believe there's a place in the market for all these different items, and it's really through an awareness that people can choose best."

"The difference is in price. The difference is in point of origin," added Bissell. "And it's just a sustainable, wonderful alternative."

Lab-created diamonds do come with certification with regard to color and clarity. To keep up with the new technology, there is also equipment to test stones and see if they are natural or manmade.

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