INDUSTRY: Synthetic Rivalry

One day in February 1955, Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, then board chairman of De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd., received shocking news. General Electric Co. had succeeded in making a synthetic diamond. Hastily, the world's diamond king conferred with De Beers' top officials, finally said: "If it must be, then De Beers must do it too. We cannot stick our heads in the sand." Last week De Beers finally did it; the company announced that it had developed a synthetic diamond to compete with G.E.'s highly successful man-made stones as industrial abrasives.

Actually, De Beers turned out the first synthetic diamonds in...

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