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 An alternative is to choose a slightly cheaper and virtually identical one created inside a laboratory in just a few short weeks.

So which one would you go for? It's a question that's beginning to dominate the jewellery industry - and its consumers.

Long-time traditional diamond miners and jewellers are now pitted against companies that recreate diamonds that are chemically indistinct from their mined counterparts.

The firms producing these man-made rocks say they're offering a conflict-free alternative - or a diamond free of any association with 'blood diamonds' - a term used to describe gems mined mainly in Africa which are sold to finance insurgencies and conflicts.
Creating a diamond

One new firm creating man-made diamonds is Singapore's IIa Technologies. Its factory opened this year and includes a 200,000 sq ft facility. Within the industry, its laboratory is referred to as a "greenhouse" and IIa's is the world's largest.

The technology it is using has existed for decades to produce man-made diamonds for commercial cutters and drills. However, more recently the retail jewellery industry has warmed to the technology.

After eight years and more than $40m (£25.8m) in research to perfect the carbon vapour deposit technology it predominantly uses, IIa says it has found the way to recreate these rare rocks for the jewellery industry.

And the firm's chief executive Vishal Mehta is on a mission. He wants to see lab-grown diamonds become as coveted as the rocks that have spent millions of years in the ground. Some 70% of the firm's lab-grown diamonds are aimed at the jewellery industry.

"High-quality diamond growing is a very complicated and difficult art," says Mr Mehta.

There are two methods of creating diamonds.

There is the high pressure, high temperature technology that has been used for decades to create coloured as well as industrial diamonds; then there is the carbon vapour deposit method favoured by IIa.

IIa makes 90% of its diamonds using this technique. Currently this produces one- to three-carat diamonds that are sold for about 30% less than naturally-mined ones.

"These diamonds are unique," says Mr Mehta. "What's important is that you don't need to dig up the earth, you don't need to displace anyone, you don't need to do anything that could harm what we need to preserve for our future generations."
Mined or synthetic?

With such technology, experts say only a trained gemmologist using specialist equipment can now tell the stones apart.

So miners and jewellers are investing in and creating machines able to make the distinction.

De Beers, the firm behind famous marketing slogan "a diamond is forever", is one such.

It is making sure the technology and the equipment is available to allow industry and consumers to identify a synthetic diamond from a real one.

"That's important because consumers need to be confident, when they are spending what is a large amount of money on a precious diamond, that it is indeed the precious natural diamond that they think it is," says De Beer's executive vice-president for marketing, Stephen Lussier.

And with diamond sales at record highs, surpassing the $80bn mark for the first time in 2014, traditional diamond firms are keen to hang onto those highs - and avoid cases of industry fraud.