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A CHANCE meeting in 2001 between Dr Devi Shanker Misra, who has several decades of diamond growth experience gained while with the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai, and members of the Mehta family, fourth-generation professionals in the gem and jewellery industry, resulted in the formation of IIa Technologies Pte Ltd.
According to chief executive officer Vishal Mehta, that meeting created a synergy of knowledge and industry experience that provided the foundation for the company.
Today, Mr Mehta that said IIa Technologies' Singapore facility powers a technology called microwave plasma chemical vapour deposition (MPCVD), which is able to provide an environment suitable for diamond growth while relying on nature to do the rest.
"Rough diamonds grown by IIa Technologies are used in the commercial sector, scientific and medical instrumentation as well as in the luxury (jewellery) sector," he explained, adding that the company is an ISO 14001:2004 (an Environmental Management Standard) and ISO 9001:2008 (a Quality Management Standard) certified company.
Mr Mehta said IIa Technologies commercially announced the launch of grown diamonds in 2013 and in less than five years, the company has truly revolutionised the diamond industry.
"Not only has the company made high quality diamonds available for commercial applications but it has also allowed retail consumers a 'real' choice in diamonds for the first time."
Today, IIa Technologies' grown diamonds are sold in the US by its sister brand, Pure Grown Diamonds, offering the rarest and purest grade of diamond, the Type IIa diamond, to customers.
These diamonds are origin-guaranteed, certified conflict-free and eco-friendly, and offer an exceptional value by being nearly 40 per cent more affordable than earth-mined diamonds, giving consumers a chance to upgrade to a bigger and better quality diamond for the same price.
Therefore, it came as no surprise when the company was recently named as one of the prestige winners of the SME100 Awards 2016.
"It is a great honour for us to be acknowledged for our work here in Singapore. Our journey to grow 'real' diamonds for luxury as well as hi-tech applications has been a great learning experience and the SME100 award is recognition of our hard work," said Mr Mehta.
He noted that IIa Technologies spent more than eight years in Singapore purely in research mode, perfecting its diamond-growing technology with no commercial production. The team faced several challenges in the beginning. including shortage of diamond seeds, inability to grow bigger diamonds and managing costs of running a semiconductor-grade facility.
"But the team's hard work and perseverance paid off when they were able to find a sustainable and effective solution that overcame the challenges. It is incredibly difficult to grow diamonds, to build the capability, and to do it sustainably has been even more challenging. In great part due to the support from Singapore and the conducive and progressive business environment here, the company today is counted among the largest MPCVD diamond research facilities in the world," he explained.
He said that consistent supply of high quality grown diamonds from companies like IIa Technologies is practically creating new applications across industries designed around diamonds and their exceptional scientific properties, which remain unrivalled by other materials.
Grown diamonds are being researched and applied in fields such as semiconductors, electronics and quantum computing as well as medical and mechanical applications.