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Today, cultured pearls are fully accepted by consumers and it’s the rare individual who knows that natural pearls still exist.  Procedures are in place to identify seed nucleated cultured pearls from naturals, relieving much of the worry that a cultured pearl may be passed off as a natural.  To further support that cultured pearls have been completely accepted in the industry as a legitimate gem, more that 30 nations worldwide are involved in some stage of pearl production.  In a remarkable turn of events, what once was viewed as a serious threat to the pearl industry, has become recognized as the gold standard.   The name “Mikimoto” signifies one of the highest accepted levels in pearl quality today.

A similar situation is now in its infancy with cultured diamonds. The prospect of man being able to create diamonds has fascinated people for hundreds of years. The 1950’s saw the first real significant breakthrough of diamond synthesis with GE’s production of several lab-created diamonds in 1955. Their success caused alarm within the jewelry industry - much the same way as Mikimoto’s had. There was widespread confusion as to what this discovery would do to the wholesale and retail costs of diamonds and diamond prices reflected that concern. But, just as with cultured pearls, that alarm abated once tests were devised that determined whether a diamond was natural or cultured. The real issue that causes distrust of cultured gems is the fear that there will be no way to distinguish between a natural gem and a man-made one and that cultured gems will be “passed off” as natural. The issue isn’t that cultured stones are inferior, but, rather, too good. Possible deception causes panic.  Once that fear is relieved, acceptance is usually forthcoming.  The industry benefits from the existence of cultured gemstones by raising interest in gems as a whole and by the influx of more buying customers into the marketplace.  Ecological and political issues can also be taken into consideration.

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