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“Synthetic” or “Earth Mined”- is either a derogatory term?

Rockdiamond

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Hi All!
There’s a little scuffle between my good friend @Garry H (Cut Nut) and I.
My feelings are that the term “Earth Mined” is not only accurate- it’s a complimentary term for those seeking diamonds that came from a mine.
Synthetic sounds like a fake to me…. Therefore I see it as a derogatory term when used to describe a diamond that was made in a lab - or factory.
What do you think?
 

DejaWiz

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I usually use either synthetic, lab, or lab grown when referring to LGD. However, I absolutely am aware that there is a widespread misunderstanding of the word synthetic, where a good lot of the population thinks the word is synonymous with the word "simulant" and therefore means "fake". I totally understand why someone in the trade that is customer interfacing would want to avoid using the word synthetic.

As for natural, I interchangeably use the terms natural, earth grown, and mined.
 

Mreader

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Exactly what @DejaWiz said. Though synthetic is a correct term the general public equates the word with “fake”. For that reason I can see why vendors prefer the term lab grown. I don’t think “synthetic” is a derogatory term though.
 

MrsBlue

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The confusion around the word synthetic reminded me of this bit of political lore:

Are you aware that Claude Pepper is known all over Washington as a shameless extrovert? Not only that, but this man is reliably reported to practice nepotism with his sister-in-law and he has a sister who was once a thespian in wicked New York. Worst of all, it is an established fact that Mr. Pepper, before his marriage, habitually practiced celibacy
 

Diamond Girl 21

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I mostly use natural or earth grown to describe natural diamonds, but have on occasion referred to them as earth mined.

I call lab growns just that. I don't think of earth mined or synthetic as derogatory terminology.
 

oncrutchesrightnow

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In my head I think “real” and “lab.”

To me, “Earth mined” does not sound derogatory to me but it doesn’t flow. “Synthetic “ sounds fake.
“Lab” sounds “human made but real.” Especially HPHT. Most people imagine diamonds being made by carbon being smooshed under a lot of pressure a billion years ago. “HPHT” sounds like humans smooshed some carbon and therefore the resulting diamond is real. CVD is harder to understand conceptually.
 

dk168

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Earth-mined = natural diamonds
Synthetics = lab/MMD diamonds
Simulants = Moissanites, Swarovski Zirconia, CZ etc., as in non-diamonds

DK :))
 

vintageinjune

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"Earth mined" feels appropriate, and not derogatory in the slightest, but "natural" is used interchangeably between the two in my world.

Synthetic.... while accurate, does feel too close to "simulant", meaning a "fake" diamond, vs. lab grown which means real but change in point of origin.
 

goldnsilver

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I can get used to seeing natural diamonds referred to as "earth-mined", however I don't think I'll find myself using it anytime soon, as it sounds awkward to me and I don't think we had been calling other gemstones "earth-mined" (or had we? I've no idea). Plus no one I know uses the term. Although I'm in Europe and perhaps it's catching on more in the US?

"Synthetic" doesn't sound derogatory to me, as my experience with the term is mainly based on coming across synthetic rubies in antique pieces, where it's often elaborated that synthetic rubies were considered quite the vogue at the turn of the 20th century and not necessarily a bad thing (even if relatively inexpensive nowadays). I think it's regrettable that vendors (from what I've heard so far) want to discourage use of the word - would love to see it reclaimed. I've never thought of CZs, moissanites, or paste stones as synthetic *diamonds*, but simulants. "Lab-grown" and "lab" are also totally fine for me, and I do find the term "lab diamonds" used a lot here, although I would like having "synthetic" as an extra option in conversation depending on context, because I would hate feeling forced to speak of man-made diamonds as "lab-grown" when "synthetic" would have done just as well.
 

oceanblue

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I think labeling “lab grown” or “factory grown” is the best, maybe “engineered in a factory”. From the earth could just become “mined”. Maybe study how the term “cultured” became mainstreamed and accepted for pearls.

Synthetic, stimulant etc. are confusing.

Is the question for quick and easy understanding to the potential buyer?
 

oceanblue

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If I can not say this please have it deleted.

David Rudlin is very prolific over on Quora and talks about lab diamonds sometimes.. Maybe someone needs to invite him over here.
 

123ducklings

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Earth mined or mined seem neutral and accurate to me.

Synthetic is accurate to me, but there’s confusion in the marketplace between synthetic diamonds and a less desirable product, so I try to use a term (lab grown/man made/etc) that will more clearly convey what I’m talking about to all audiences.

My goal is clarity of communication.
 

John Pollard

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@Rockdiamond , I think you asked before, so I'll copy my answer from the last time here for the record. Thanks for increasing SEO-visible dialogue for PS tho. :)

From this post.

I am confident that the average person (6th grade to skilled technician) might confuse the word synthetic with fake. The FTC confirmed it.

And it's not a stretch to presume some people associate the word 'mined' with toxic runoff, contamination, unsafe conditions, cave-ins and trapped workers. That's not diamond mining. But the hoi polloi aren't immersed and aware of that, as we are.

My feelings are that the term “Earth Mined” is not only accurate- it’s a complimentary term for those seeking diamonds that came from a mine.
FWIW, a prominent luxury brand I do education for has spent millions on CSR research and avoids use of that term, for the reasons outlined above.

To be clear, I'm not saying your perception is wrong. Perception varies.

It reminds me of the old musicians' joke: What's the difference between a normal fellow and a gentleman? A: Both of them know how to play the saxophone. The gentleman chooses not to.
 
Last edited:
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For me personally, “mined” and “synthetic” are both are neutral and accurate, but I understand why folks in the biz would prefer to avoid those possibly-loaded terms. I think “earth grown” vs. “lab grown” is dichotomous is a cutesy way that could hardly offend anyone and gets the point across. It’s flattering to both, even if silly. I occasionally use “natural” in reference to the stuff under the dirt, but I don’t love the word “natural” to describe most anything (for the same reasons I don’t like “chemicals” as a pejorative).

By the way, @Rockdiamond I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your repartee with Gary sprinkled throughout random threads. Keep up the jabs, you two!
 

Garry H (Cut Nut)

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The entire discussion started just a few years ago.

The woman made diamond industry began using strange terms.
Diamonds are not grown in labs, they are in big factories.
No one ever called a diamond earth mined until sellers saw a marketing opportunity.
Man made, or artificially grown are the most appropriate neutral terms.
But 'neutral' is not going to happen.
All I have asked of you David is not to use that term in communications with me.
All jokes aside, it is not a neutral term.

Here in Australia mass mall stores were banned from using cultured ruby' etc.

I do understand that the US government is happy to take a pro man made diamond approach to terminology. Increase local manufacture, decrease imported goods.
I wounder what would happen if a few huge diamond mines were discovered on US soil?
 
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I wounder what would happen if a few huge diamond mines were discovered on US soil?

A few thousand indigenous people would be displaced? Wild guess.

But back to the point — I don’t fully understand your beef with the “mined” descriptor. Isn’t that the key difference (or at least one of the top 2 or 3)?

And I think “natural” is a plenty strange word. I mean really, it launches us into all kinds of philosophical debate about what is and is not nature.

Finally, “factory produced” seems just fine and perhaps more apt than “lab”. But it is sort of a distinction without a difference, and a whole lot of syllables...
 

Garry H (Cut Nut)

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A few thousand indigenous people would be displaced? Wild guess.

But back to the point — I don’t fully understand your beef with the “mined” descriptor. Isn’t that the key difference (or at least one of the top 2 or 3)?

And I think “natural” is a plenty strange word. I mean really, it launches us into all kinds of philosophical debate about what is and is not nature.

Finally, “factory produced” seems just fine and perhaps more apt than “lab”. But it is sort of a distinction without a difference, and a whole lot of syllables...
What about central Manhattan?
The edition of 'earth' is inflammatory MQSotch.

I do not advocate for synthetic - I understand it is a put down. I have asked David to not use put down words in other threads, and if he persists I would use a put down or two.
FGD's are factory grown diamonds - as is MMD - not harder. Laboratory has 9 letters. Factory has 7 letters.
Natural has always been used for ruby and sapphire as a prefix because we have had synthetic factory grown ruby and sapp for 130 years.
 
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I guess I don’t understand why the addition of “earth” makes it inflammatory. Genuinely curious, and I hope you can forgive me for being so dense and needing it spelled out.

“Lab grown” is 2 syllables. Only mad scientists say “laboratory.” More importantly, I wasn’t seriously complaining about syllable count.

And once again, I hope you both continue to use put down words, because your snarking towards each other is always fun to read! But I also realize the purpose of PS is largely educational, and not half-serious squabbles for my personal entertainment.
 

Rockdiamond

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Can of worms
Me opener
Not intentional
Clearly there’s a range of opinions on this.
I promise- like MQS- and most others in this discussion , I do not perceive “Earth Mined” in any derogatory sense.
I mean, the vast majority of our diamonds were mined. Natural, if Garry prefers.
Given how many people we speak to, and this comes into the discussion- it’s become a habit at this point.
And while it is kinda fun jabbing in good spirits……
The last thing I want to do is insult someone I like and respect so much.
 

monipod

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I have generally said mined, or lab to differentiate origin but other terms are understandable and not offensive to me. As for synthetic, I guess it comes down to word association: how did you first learn/hear the word synthetic? In my case, it's synthetic hair, versus human hair. Because of that association, I'm hesitant to use synthetic for lab stones, mostly due to a layperson's likely misunderstanding of what it means, as correct as it may be to use synthetic in this case.
 

oncrutchesrightnow

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I guess I don’t understand why the addition of “earth” makes it inflammatory. Genuinely curious, and I hope you can forgive me for being so dense and needing it spelled out.

“Lab grown” is 2 syllables. Only mad scientists say “laboratory.” More importantly, I wasn’t seriously complaining about syllable count.

And once again, I hope you both continue to use put down words, because your snarking towards each other is always fun to read! But I also realize the purpose of PS is largely educational, and not half-serious squabbles for my personal entertainment.

Agree with the mad scientist vibe — laBORatory sounds Frankensteinian and might actually attract geeky customers. :cool2:

The only term I find derogatory is “man-made.” God bless the gentleman but all the ladies in my family work in science and technology. The term irks enough to cause a mental blip when reading advertising or educational materials, and marketers should seek smooth-mental reading.
 

Rockdiamond

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FWIW, a prominent luxury brand I do education for has spent millions on CSR research and avoids use of that term, for the reasons outlined above.

John!! I was a bit confused at which term the luxury brand avoids ( in a stunning reversal of your normal writing, this specific post was ambiguous:)
 

John Pollard

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John!! I was a bit confused at which term the luxury brand avoids ( in a stunning reversal of your normal writing, this specific post was ambiguous:)

Touche' David, haha. They avoid "earth-mined" due to the negative connotation mining has for the public at large - overseas as much (more?) as USA.
 

Rockdiamond

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got it!!
I ( personally) do not derive any negativity whatsoever in the term Earth Mined....of course, we're not that luxurious:)

Based on this totally unscientific thread.....no one seems to have a negative connotation with the term Earth Mined- while "Synthetic" has garnered some negative reviews...

It seems to me: If someone is aware of Factory Made diamonds, and they are choosing the Natural alternative......they are not only aware of where the diamond comes from- they prefer it. So why hide it?
Of course, a lot of folks in the diamond business hope that consumers will be blissfully unaware of Human-made diamonds.

Does that make sense?
 

Dancing Fire

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I have generally said mined, or lab to differentiate origin but other terms are understandable and not offensive to me. As for synthetic, I guess it comes down to word association: how did you first learn/hear the word synthetic? In my case, it's synthetic hair, versus human hair.

Synthetic boobs. :bigsmile:
 
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