Rapaport Magazine

Antwerp

By Marc Goldstein
Dealers React to DiamondCheck

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has begun installing DiamondCheck testing machines in diamond bourses around the world in order to detect the presence of synthetic diamonds in diamond parcels (see Weeding Out Synthetics in the Industry section). Against all expectations, this welcome effort has caused some discomfort in the industry.
   First, there’s the politics of not wanting to appear to be favoring the GIA equipment over other detection tools. In fact, HRD Antwerp has developed a similar machine, the Alpha Diamond Analyzer, which some traders say is as efficient, and possibly less expensive, than DiamondCheck.
   A second reason — more economic than political — concerns the publicity surrounding the whole synthetic diamonds issue. As a board member of one of the major Antwerp diamond organizations said, “Our fear is that by commenting too much about a possible synthetic diamonds problem within the industry press, the general press will follow up at some point, which will lead to a new smear campaign against diamonds. Another crisis, that’s all we need now!” he said sarcastically. According to many in the industry, synthetic diamonds aren’t a problem per se but rather a question of due disclosure.

Too Soon To Tell
   All things considered, the use of a diamond tester within the premises of a bourse will probably become more a tool for a smaller or medium-size company than for larger companies, which usually have testing equipment in house because of the large quantities of goods they handle. At this stage, it appears to be too early to analyze how, when and by whom the bourse instruments will be used. People have to become aware of their availability first.
   “This detection tool is definitely a good idea for the whole industry,” commented Raj Mehta of Rosy Blue. “We have detection machines installed in our offices for our own use, but it is vital that similar machines are available to all members of the trade through the bourses. It’s a way of confirming that we want to keep the criminals out of our business. Personally, I see it as one more effective step toward the strengthening of a healthy industry. Of course, testing for synthetics will have to become part of the due diligence for every diamantaire, as is already the case for us. We’re using the same kind of device in our offices, be it when we buy or when we sell.”

A Question of Terminology
   Herman Brauner, a founder of IGI, explained why he thought a more careful approach should be adopted by the labs and the manufacturers of instruments. “The instrument you’re referring to is an infrared spectrometer. It is designed to detect a range of stones that are potentially synthetic. And the word ‘potentially’ here is very important. The tester doesn’t identify synthetic stones as such, even though some people want everyone to believe that it does. It can only point out stones about which there could be doubts. Those stones will eventually be found to be either natural, high pressure-high temperature (HPHT) or synthetic. And the machine works best for the D to K range of color. The same principle is actually being used by labs across the globe.
   “In other words, the GIA instrument detects diamonds that do or do not contain nitrogen; nothing more, nothing less,” continued Brauner. “That doesn’t mean that once identified, the diamonds in question are synthetic, but that they might be suspect candidates. Basically, all detection instruments operate the same way and answer one single and binary question: Are the diamonds type IIa or not?”
   Brauner said that even the Automated Melee Screening (AMS) machine designed to test batches of diamonds, an instrument that’s on loan from the Diamond Trading Company (DTC) to its sightholder clients — for a three-year rental fee of $75,000 — operates the same way. “Unfortunately, there’s no magic involved,” he said. “The conclusion is the same in all cases: Should a diamond be identified as potentially synthetic or treated, the stone should be submitted to a lab for further analysis, via other processes such as Raman spectroscopy.”

Labs Are Big Beneficiaries
   Obviously, the day has not yet arrived when synthetic diamond detection will be easy, quick and accessible to everyone. When that happens, of course, nondisclosure issues will just disappear. However, one thing is certain, whatever the quantity and the quality of synthetic diamonds that are and will pour yearly into the pipeline without notice, there’s a flourishing future ahead for the labs in detecting synthetics.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - March 2014. To subscribe click here.

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