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The 10 Most Read Stories of 2019

Dec 31, 2019 5:11 AM   By Joshua Freedman
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RAPAPORT... There’s a running joke here at Rapaport News that if we just put “GIA,” “De Beers” and “synthetics” into a headline in a random order and added a few filler words, it would automatically get the diamond industry clicking by the thousands.

Such is the importance of those topics in the eyes of the trade. This year was not too different, with grading laboratories, lab-grown stones and the fortunes of the famed diamond miner all featuring in the 10 most read stories on Diamonds.net in 2019. Once again, discoveries by graders at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) scored highly.

One other key topic was salted into the mix like undisclosed synthetics in a parcel of naturals: the crises of liquidity and supply that beleaguered the manufacturing sector this year. These issues contributed to two stories on the leaderboard — the slump in the big-stone market, and a call to reduce rough purchases.

Here are the top 10 stories:

1. GIA Aligns Lab-Grown Reports with FTC Standards
March 31

The trade had long been awaiting this update from the GIA, mainly because its lab-grown reports previously referred to the product as “synthetic” — an unpopular term in the man-made diamond sector. While the institution removed that word, it stopped short of adopting the full grading scale for color and clarity that it employs for natural diamonds.

2. Petra Recovers 425ct. Diamond
March 31

We were surprised how well this did. Large stones are popular with our readers, but not usually to this extent. It was an important development for Petra Diamonds, which had been struggling with lagging average prices at its Cullinan mine. The company sold the rough in May for just under $15 million.

3. GIA Spots Natural-Synthetic Hybrid Diamond
May 20

This was a far less surprising entry: Manufacturers had added a layer of chemical vapor deposition (CVD) diamond to boost the weight and color of a natural stone. Many of our best stories come from the GIA’s quarterly Gems & Gemology journal, which frequently publishes reports of unusual findings by its graders and scientists. But this latest tale of apparent fraud was probably the most read yet.

4. Why the Market for Large Diamonds Is in Free Fall
July 2

If you like charts, you’ll like this. This piece explained the four key factors that had driven a decline in prices of diamonds above 3 carats. One was the mass offloading of expensive goods by Indian companies seeking to improve their liquidity situation. Another was higher mining production of supersized stones, reducing their rarity value.

5. ‘Lab-Grown’ Diamond Turns Out to Be Natural
February 6

This doesn’t happen often: A GIA client submitted a stone as a synthetic diamond and found out it was natural. The man-bites-dog outcome proved a draw for Diamonds.net readers.

6. Stop Buying Rough
July 3

The diamond industry must reduce rough purchases to help solve the oversupply crisis and lack of profitability in the manufacturing sector. That was the message from Rapaport Senior Analyst and News Editor Avi Krawitz in this opinion piece in Rapaport Magazine, reproduced on Diamonds.net. Manufacturers took the advice: De Beers sold 34% less rough by value in the second half of 2019 than in the same period a year earlier, according to Rapaport calculations.

7. De Beers Sightholders Embracing Synthetics
November 12

This headline benefited from having two of the three keywords. (There was a story with all three magic terms, “GIA Sheds Light on De Beers’ Synthetics,” but it finished a disappointing 13th.) It also described an important trend in the market: Traditional diamond manufacturers are exploring the lab-grown sector as they believe it offers better profits.

8. HRD Grades First Lab-Grown All-Diamond Ring
February 10

All-diamond rings have become a “thing” in the lab-grown business. This one from Dutch Diamond Technologies was apparently the first of its type to become reality. Former Apple executive Jonny Ive has also been creating one for Diamond Foundry, but it was still in production at the time of this story.

9. Martin Rapaport: Synthetic Ethics
May 23

Martin Rapaport set out the actions the industry must take to defend itself from the onslaught of lab-grown stones. “Synthetic diamonds are threatening the integrity of the natural diamond trade by promoting the sale of expensive synthetic diamonds without disclosing their inability to store value,” he wrote.

10. Tariffs on Chinese Jewelry to Begin September 1
August 14

This development had a major practical impact on our US readers, adding to the woes the US-China trade war had already brought upon the industry. Retailers were forced to adapt, with Signet Jewelers reducing its purchases of Chinese goods so consumers wouldn’t take the hit.

Image: A stone under inspection. (Shutterstock)
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Tags: De Beers, Gemological Institute of America, GIA, Joshua Freedman, Rapaport News, Synthetics, top stories
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