Now you can make diamonds in a microwave

August 27, 2015, 6:06 PM UTC
A collection of natural diamonds are seen laid in rows on a
A collection of natural diamonds are seen laid in rows on a sorting table before the productions process at OAO Alrosa's cutting and polishing unit, Brilliantly Alrosa, in Moscow, Russia, on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013. OAO Alrosa, Russia's diamond producer, raised about $1.3 billion in an oversubscribed share sale from investors including Oppenheimer Funds Inc. and Lazard Ltd.'s asset-management, as part of a state strategy to attract more international investors to Russia and establish Moscow as a global financial center. Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Bloomberg Bloomberg via Getty Images

Diamonds really are forever, now that we can manufacture them.

There’s a growing market for man-made jewels grown in science labs, Bloomberg reports. The diamonds are made by placing a carbon seed in a microwave chamber and superheating the substance into a plasma ball, which crystallizes into the much-desired jewels. Experts can only tell the difference between the manufactured diamonds and traditionally mined ones using a machine.

The man-made diamonds are starting to be sold by retailers such as Wal-Mart (WMT), although they still make up just a small fraction of total diamond sales. In 2014, an estimated 360,000 carats of lab-grown diamonds were manufactured while about 146 million carats of natural gems were mined. The number of man-made diamonds is expected to reach 20 million carats by 2026. (One carat = 0.2 grams).

Diamond industry heavyweights such as De Beers say they have nothing to fear from startups pushing lab-produced gems. The company told Bloomberg that the “formation,” “history,” and “emotional significance” of mined diamonds make them unique.