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Would you pay 15% more for a diamond dug from the ground over a similar and sometimes more flawless diamond produced in a lab? Some marketers are betting you will. Welcome to "Gem Wars"...!

There's a fight brewing between producers of lab-grown diamonds and diamonds dug from the ground–and marketing is in the thick of the battle. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, "Gem Wars", January 13, 2007, gem quality diamonds (produced in a lab) are hitting the streets and going for about 15% less than mined diamonds.

According to the article, an expert in the diamond business examined three diamond stones. The first he easily recognized as cubic zirconium–it was too perfect. The other two stones origins proved more difficult to discern however. One came from a lab and another from the ground. Both were diamonds. In fact it was only through inspection of a high powered microscope that a small serial number was displayed on the lab produced diamond. The jeweler even pronounced the lab produced diamond as "the best of the three!"

The article notes, "lab produced diamonds–once suitable only for industrial use are being produced with color and clarity that match or exceed the quality of diamonds dug out of the earth. And unlike cubic zirconia, which is a chemically different subject, lab gems are considered true diamonds and not fake."

Marketers from both sides are taking their positions and have come out swinging. The diamond establishment is quickly positioning lab-produced diamonds as "synthetics" while the lab produced diamond industry is trying to use the word "cultured."

Tiffany and Co., on one hand, has no interest in lab-produced diamonds. "They don't fit in our stores," says Mark Aaron, VP of investor relations. Another retailer, Randy McCoullough, who owns the 97-store Samuelers Jewelers sells the lab produced stones and says, "At the end of the day, it's a diamond."

So the battle is set: man made diamonds vs. those dug in the ground. How many people out there will care (especially at a 15% savings and perhaps better color and clarity)?

Is this a battle of the authentic vs. in-authentic, or are both the real deal?

Is this just marketing spin that one diamond is better than another because it was found in the ground vs. man-made?

Come on ladies, and (men, too) your opinions please–

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Paul Barsch directs services marketing programs for Teradata, the world's largest data warehousing and analytics company. Previously, Paul was marketing director for HP Enterprise Services $1.3 billion healthcare industry and a senior marketing manager at global consultancy, BearingPoint. Paul is a senior contributor to MarketingProfs, a frequent columnist for MarketingProfs DailyFix, and has published over fifteen articles in marketing, management, technology and healthcare publications. Paul earned his Bachelors of Science in Business Administration from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He and his family reside in San Diego, CA.