World’s largest Diamond Greenhouse – IIa Technologies’ newest state-of-art facility for producing high quality Lab-grown diamonds was inaugurated in Singapore on 17th March. The 200,000 square foot lab, located at Tukang Innovation Drive in Jurong, west Singapore, was officially launched by Tharman Shanmugaratnam – Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, and attended by Economic Development Board (EDB) representatives.
Popularity and adoption of Lab-grown diamonds have been on phenomenal rise lately, being conflict free, eco-friendly, socially responsible and 30-40% cheaper than earth-mined diamonds, giving a new sustainable choice for diamond consumers. As per IIa Technologies prediction, demand for Lab-grown diamonds will rise by 25-30% YoY. In 2014, IIa Technologies grew around 300,000 carats roughs in its diamond greenhouse.
However, this is an insignificant number, considering global demand for diamonds in 2014 was approximately 134 million carats. Global diamond demand is forecasted by Frost & Sullivan, to go up to 292 million carats by 2050, but during the same time the production of earth-mined diamonds is forecasted to decline to 14 million carats only in base case scenario, leaving a humongous 278 million carats Demand-Supply gap. Increase in production of Lab-grown diamonds is expected to help fill up some of this gap.
Non-gem industrial applications are however more appealing than the gems and jewelry use of diamonds. Being high-quality, free of impurities, rarest Type IIa and purest form, Lab-grown diamonds are highly pertinent for several industries and applications including semiconductors, electronics, optical, medical, quantum computing, radiation detection, precision engineering etc. IIa Technologies’ facility, which uses MPCVD (Microwave Plasma Chemical Vapor Deposition) technique to grow diamonds, is set to focus on such next-gen applications. De Beers group’s Element Six already has an established presence in the industrial applications of diamonds segment. Many industry players are expected to set up similar diamond greenhouse in coming times.
Since its commencement in 2005, IIa Technologies has invested USD 110 million in its high-tech diamond greenhouse in Singapore. The company is also launching a Center of Excellence (CoE) – a diamond research center that will generate and disseminate scientific knowledge and information. Besides, to augment its R&D capabilities and efforts, it is seeking more collaboration with universities and technical institutes. The company already has R&D collaboration with IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) Bombay, Cornell University, Rutgers University, MoUs with Nanyang Technological University and NUS (National University of Singapore), while a MoU with Arizona State University is under progress.
The scientific advancement and market progress of Lab-grown diamonds, and the opportunities they present for the entire industry and consumers, seem very interesting to look forward to.