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Diamonds are a 'wallet's' best friend: Austin-based jeweler sells biggest lab-grown diamonds in the world

The Austin-based Diamond Room is selling some of the biggest lab-grown diamonds in the world. (Diamond Room)

"Everything's bigger in Texas," and an Austin-based private jeweler is making that truer than ever after selling the biggest lab-grown round diamond in the world.

The G VVS2 diamond was made by Diamond Room, a private "upstairs jeweler" thought up by founder and owner Matt O'Desky and a team of scientists. Weighing in at 11.21 carats, the jewel is now on its way to a couple who lives in the United Kingdom.

Over the past few decades, questions of ethics in the diamond mining industry have circulated amid campaigns to end the sale of "blood diamonds," or stones mined from conflict zones usually in Africa. By combatting the human rights issues posed by natural diamonds, the technology of synthetically creating diamonds might be the best of both worlds.

When O'Desky made his move to Austin, his mission was to bring along the "diamond district" he grew up seeing in Chicago and sell "obviously better diamonds at clearly better prices." The company got its start in Austin and has since expanded to Dallas as well.

"When I started 20 years ago, I was working in retail stores. People in the suburbs of Chicago go into the stores, buy the rings and then go downtown into the diamond district and buy the diamond," O'Desky said. "When I started this in Austin there was nothing even close."

Diamond Room's lab-grown diamonds contain the same chemical structure and properties as a natural diamond, so it is virtually impossible for even a gemologist to differentiate the two. Lab diamonds are also substantially cheaper—O'Desky said a one-and-a-half carat mined diamond is about equal in price to a three-carat lab diamond.

The largest round lab-grown diamond in the world. (The Diamond Room)

Compare that to the size of supermodel Emily Ratajkowski's five-carat stunner, which is estimated to have cost more than $90,000...

Actress and model Emily Ratajkowski touts a hefty five-carat diamond ring. (Emily Ratajkowski/Instagram)

Had the record-smashing diamond been Earth-mined, it would have cost over $1 million. But since it was created in a lab, the couple managed to purchase the stone for only $150,000.

And this isn't O'Desky's first record-breaking diamond. In addition to the round jewel, he also sold the largest lab-grown diamond ring in March last year—a 15.32-carat beauty that sold for $132,000.

Although Diamond Room sells both mined and lab-grown diamonds, O'Desky says he doesn't want to make any guarantees on mined diamonds due to the flaws he sees in the Kimberley Process, which regulates diamond certification. However, O'Desky's synthetic diamonds were made from a seed, or a piece of an actual diamond, over three months in a lab, greatly reducing the chance of conflict.

"Everyone has their guarantees from their sources, written guarantees that everything is conflict-free by the Kimberley Process. I'm not going to guarantee anything because I'm not over there," O'Desky said. "I'm not mining it. I don't see that stuff with my own eyes. But I love that people ask me that question with a cup of coffee in their hand."

And to O'Desky's surprise, his customer base isn't just people looking to save a few bucks. The Diamond Room works by appointment only and sees people from all walks of life— from wealthy retired couples to millennials looking for their first engagement rings.

"Wealthy couples coming in for 20-25 year anniversaries and going from a mined diamond, thinking they're gonna go from one carat and end up getting a four," O'Desky said. "I thought it was going to be more of the lower end but it is everybody."

Getting that celebrity-worthy engagement ring is now more accessible than ever!


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