Could Alien Diamonds Kill the Global Diamond Market?
Diamonds have an allure no other gemstones have. Part of the attraction is their beauty and purity – no other natural gemstones have the clear, sparkling clarity of a fine diamond. Properly faceted, they refract light and create a magical sparkle. Part of their popularity is also based on their rarity, difficulty obtaining them, faceting them, and turning them into jewelry. However, recent news that other planets have the right conditions for diamonds, the discovery of alien diamonds could dramatically affect the global diamond market.
Are There Alien Diamonds in Our Solar System?
The answer is…maybe. While no one has yet mined any other planets, researchers and astronomists have conducted research and performed computer modeling that suggests several planets have the right conditions for diamonds to be abundant. These planets have a combination of composition, atmosphere, temperature, and pressure to support the formation of diamonds. Among the planets experts suspect could have diamonds are Neptune, Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus.
While speculation points toward the possibility of diamonds on other planets, their existence hasn’t been confirmed. Experts caution that mining these diamonds when found would be difficult and costly unless the diamonds were of high quality and relatively abundant. Off-planet mining operations and transporting them back to earth would add to the high cost of alien diamonds, putting them out of reach for most people until science advances enough to make retrieving them practical.
Will Alien Diamonds Be More Desirable in the Future?
The flip side of all the speculation about alien diamonds is that, once their existence and quality have been confirmed, they could become highly desirable for many reasons. The novelty of an alien diamond would have incredible allure for anyone who wants something unique and special. Being able to claim ownership of truly “otherworldly” gemstones would attract some buyers willing to pay a high price to obtain one of the coveted gemstones.
How Alien Diamonds Could Kill the Global Diamond Market
There is also the possibility that alien diamonds could outsparkle any diamonds mined on earth. While there are plenty of diamonds to choose from in jewelry stores, the quality varies widely. Flawless or nearly flawless gemstones with little to no color are incredibly rare, with price tags that can be staggering. If an abundance of diamonds with fewer flaws and higher quality is discovered on Jupiter or Saturn, the global diamond market could suffer a severe financial hit. Why pay for a flawless diamond mined on earth when you can get the same quality alien diamond at less cost? Scarcity is what makes a high-quality diamond valuable. If an abundance of alien diamonds someday floods the global market, prices could drop dramatically, and earth diamond mining operations could show a dramatic loss of profits.
Opening the Closed, Global Diamond Market
From the late nineteenth century until the middle of the twentieth century, the DeBeers corporation controlled the diamond market. At times, they owned or controlled 90% of the world’s supply of diamonds. During this time, the company stockpiled diamond inventory when the market was down and raised prices for anyone seeking to buy gemstones from them. When prices rose, they released part of their excess supply to meet demand, creating a steadily rising cycle of interest, availability, and price.
In the last half of the twentieth century, DeBeers lost their monopoly due to countries unwilling to work with the company’s Apartheid mining operations and anti-trust lawsuits in the United States. Today others are operating in the diamond market, but the power largely remains in the hands of a few large diamond corporations.
Discovering alien diamonds could destroy the closed aspect of the global market by leveling the playing field. Conglomerate mining companies might see stiff competition from start-ups and small, individual mining ventures in a race to establish mining rights on other planets. Global politics would also come into play, destabilizing the diamond market and creating fierce competition. The result could be a dramatic drop in the price of gemstones when alien diamonds flood a market that is presently strictly controlled by diamond cartels.
Alien Diamonds vs. Blood Diamonds
In the last few decades, people have begun rejecting the purchase of “blood diamonds.” These are diamonds, sometimes called conflict diamonds, are mined in areas of armed conflict or from mines where workers are exploited for political advantage. The United Nations defines them as any diamonds mined in areas where military forces control diamond mines so that their proceeds can be used to fund military action against the government. For many people, a broader understanding of blood diamonds includes any diamonds mined in countries where human rights are violated, and workers are abused in the process of mining.
Without an available and willing source of local workers, mining alien diamonds would require skilled and willing miners to relocate to other planets. Unless the pay and benefits outweighed the risks, few individuals would work off-planet for a mining operation. Living wages and respect for human rights would be a necessary part of the equation, minimizing the risk of worker exploitation. International treaties and established territories would keep military conflicts to a minimum.
The Future of Alien Diamonds
The likelihood of discovering and effectively mining alien diamonds in the near future is almost nil. Science and space exploration will have to catch up to the dream of importing gemstone-quality diamonds from other planets. This doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t happen. It depends on myriad factors, including confirmation of an abundance of alien diamonds, the quality of those diamonds, and how soon viable mining operations can be established. One thing seems inevitable – alien diamonds from another planet would rocket the global diamond market on this planet.