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Natural Diamond Vs Synthetic Diamond

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by Raul Sapora

From a scientific perspective, a synthetic diamond has the same chemical composition, the same crystal structure, the same optical and physical properties of a natural diamond. As synthetic diamonds are conceptually identical to natural diamonds, they need to be analyzed and spotted by a gemological laboratory. Synthetic diamond screening is nowadays a major concern of the Jewelry Industry.

Unexpectedly, as far as I am concerned, Ada Diamonds[i], a synthetic diamond distributor, after discovering a few natural diamonds mixed in a synthetic diamonds melee lot, has implemented enhanced screening procedures to further inspect all parcels of melee diamonds to ensure that all diamonds sold are in fact synthetic, not mined and therefore not illicit mined diamonds. Despite it is based on the same principle (synthetic vs natural diamond screening), a whole new and extremely dangerous variable has been imported into the Diamond Trade: protecting synthetic from natural. I believe most of you who read this will smile at this – I did too at a first glance – but it is also easy to realize that a new powerful weapon has been forged and consigned to marketing experts, and if the synthetic diamond industry will have consumers perceive that synthetic diamonds are a better alternative, people will buy them.

The situation is becoming more and more complex. Retailers are in a constant state of great distress: they are uncertain whether they should sell synthetic diamonds or not. On the other end, mining companies are addressing the problem with considerable delay and most probably caught inside the conceptual circle of the same marketing campaign which had decreed their triumph in the past. When Martin Rapaport in his world renowned educated reprimand[ii] to Leonardo di Caprio says that ‘false claims and misleading marketing surrounding the sale of synthetics is having an impact’, I am afraid he forgets to say that diamond itself owes its success to the unrivalled advertising slogan created by Mary Frances Gerety for De Beers in 1948 ‘a Diamond is Forever’, and that claim is disingenuous anyway. De Beers was successful in making diamonds appear rarer than they are, by aggressively restricting the supply of diamonds on the market, and moreover nothing is going to be forever, not even diamonds.

I am a gemologist and Responsible Sourcing Auditor, and those who know me quite well are prepared to hear me pronounce the sentence: “The ethical nature of a gemstone has today as much to do with its social context and its environmental provenance as it has with its optical and chemical properties.” In fact, in my opinion, gemology without Responsible Sourcing is merely a scientific understanding of gemstones, and the world needs much more than this. Gemology, as a matter of fact, is evolving through ethics. Therefore, as a gemologist I have to protect truth, even if truth sometimes can be multifaceted.

Diamond Foundry, a Synthetic Diamond producer who raised a capital of over $100 million from 12 billionaires[iii], including Twitter founder Evan Williams and actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio, was launched in late 2015, after two years of research and development.” A diamond is a diamond,” says Martin Roscheisen, Diamond Foundry’s founder. “Scientifically it is a tetrahedral carbon allotrope, and it is the same thing whether mined or man-made.”

“Proud to invest in Diamond Foundry, a Company reducing human & environmental toll by sustainably culturing diamonds,” Leonardo di Caprio tweeted.

Apparently, the arguments embraced by synthetic (or lab grown as they like to say) diamonds manufacturers are mainly ethical: to some consumers they seem to be conflict free and socially responsible. That is because synthetic diamond marketers are touting their product to be “conflict-free”, which misleadingly associates all real diamonds with conflict diamonds.

Accusations of exploitation and inhumane working conditions in mines cast a dark shadow over the diamond industry. Mining is also said to be devastating to the environment, due to the amount of energy it requires, the potential for chemical leaks, and the harmful effects that removing large amounts of earth has on local ecosystems[iv]. Some of those arguments are highly deceptive: the world of diamonds, gemstones and jewellery is changing. The legislative landscape, consumer awareness of the problems in the jewellery supply chain and broader civil society groups demanding transparency and disclosure have impacted dramatically on this scenario: nowadays, thanks to Kimberley Process, Responsible Jewelry Council and other initiatives, just a very small fraction of diamonds production is being used to finance wars. Also, it is extremely important to understand that the diamond industry employs an estimated 10 million people around the world directly and indirectly, and also has become the almost entire economy of some specific, otherwise isolated locations, like Botswana and Northern Canada[v]. Another commonly repeated misconception is that diamond mining harms local ecosystems and wildlife. However, diamond mining is perhaps one of the least environmentally destructive forms of mining there is today. Diamond mining uses very few, if any, chemicals, and diamond mines leave a small footprint on local environments compared to other forms of mineral extraction. Most people are unaware of the role diamonds play in bringing real benefits to people in the countries around the world where diamonds are sourced. Nowhere is this more evident than in Africa.

A few facts:

·        An estimated 5 million people have access to appropriate healthcare globally thanks to revenues from diamonds.

·        Diamond revenues enable every child in Botswana to receive free education up to the age of 13.

·        An estimated 10 million people globally are directly or indirectly supported by the diamond industry.

·        The diamond mining industry generates over 40% of Namibia’s annual export earnings.

·        Approximately one million people are employed by the diamond industry in India.

·        The revenue from diamonds is instrumental in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

·        An estimated 65% of the world’s diamonds come from African countries.

It is quite evident that synthetic diamonds pose a firm and serious threat to this huge network, while so much has been done and is being done to eradicate unethical implications from the complex jewelry world. As I said already, reactions have been slightly late and perhaps, at least in the early stage, not commensurate to the actual danger.

After almost one century and a half after diamond discovery in South Africa – happened in 1867, when fifteen year old Erasmus Stephanus Jacobs found the Eureka diamond on his father’s farm, on the south bank of the Orange River – and after the end of the De Beers monopoly, seven of the world’s leading diamond companies (De Beers, Alrosa, Dominion Diamond Corporation, Petra Diamonds, Gem Diamonds, Lucara Diamond Corporation, Rio Tinto Diamonds), founded in May 2015, the Diamond Producers Association (DPA): its mission is ‘to protect and promote the integrity and reputation of diamonds, thereby ensuring the sustainability of the diamond industry[vi].

DPA launched an advertising campaign called “Real is Rare,” that adopts a new verbiage on diamond marketing, in which the abracadabra claim “A Diamond is Forever” has been replaced by a narrative that is totally different from the past. The Diamond Producers Association (DPA) announced at the JCK, Las Vegas a few days ago that their 2017 marketing budget will total US$ 57 million. DPA’s Chairman Stephen Lussier commented: “The Board’s decision is a major turning point for the Diamond Producers Association and the diamond industry. All Board Members are aligned behind the goals and plans of the DPA, which is now fully equipped to fulfil its mission of communicating to next generation consumers about the timeless beauty and emotional value of diamonds. We look forward to working closely with the diamond and jewellery trade and with other industry organisations to build a stronger future for our sector” [vii].

The words pronounced from Lussier sound so far away from the place and time in which De Beers was the guardian of the trade and could steadily increase the price of diamonds, thus ensuring that diamonds were a good investment over time.

Is such a potentially huge advertising campaign enough to react to synthetic diamonds? In my opinion the necessary game changer in this dangerous situation are ethics and Responsible Sourcing practices. The only way is ethics, quoting Stacey Hailes’s speech at Birmingham a few weeks ago. It is of paramount importance for consumers to consider what the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme for Rough Diamonds, the Responsible Jewelry Council, the Signet Responsible Sourcing Program are among others doing. Although we are all working towards the full enforcement of these practices, they already had a significant impact on illicit trade in rough diamonds.

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[i] As reported in ‘Is This Lab-Grown Diamond Company Trolling the Trade?’ by Rob Bates, on JCKonline (June 1, 2017)

[ii] Rapaport, ‘Synthetic Diamond Scam’ April 2016

[iii] ‘Why Leonardo DiCaprio is backing man-made diamonds’ by Sophie Morlin-Yron, CNN money ( August 30, 2016)

[iv] ‘A Lab-Grown Diamond Is Forever’, by Chavie Lieber (June 14, 2016)

[v] ‘The History of Lab Grown Diamonds: Value Proposition’, by Ehud Arye Laniado (June 14, 2017)

[vi] Diamond Producers Association mission statement (www.diamondproducers.com)

[vii] DPA ups its Marketing Budget for 2017 – Allocates US$ 57 Million for the Purpose, TJM (June 6, 2017)

 

BLUE MOON & QUEEN MARIA-JOSÉ RUBY LEAD HIGHLIGHTS AT SOTHEBY’S GENEVA SALE

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Published by: Jewels du Jour

Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sale is jam-packed with incredible jewel after incredible jewel. Leading the 500-lot sale is the exceedingly rare and outrageously beautiful Blue Moon diamond. This rare wonder, graded Fancy Vivid Blue and Internally Flawless, was unearthed at the Premier Mine at Cullinan – owned by Petra Diamonds – in South Africa, the only known mine today for producing blue diamonds with some regularity. In fact, out of the eighteen million tons mined and five million carats recovered from the mine, only five world-class blue diamonds have emerged from Cullinan, or less than 0.1 percent of the mine’s annual yield.

The Blue Moon Diamond - An exceptional Fancy Vivid Blue diamond ring

 

The 29.62-carat rough found in January 2014 was expertly cut by Cora International, one of the world’s leading firms specializing in cutting large important diamonds. The resulting stone, a cushion-cut 12.03-carat diamond of perfect proportions, is a masterpiece of mother nature enhanced by the hands of man. The Blue Moon is expected to fetch between $35.5 and $56 million.

Opposite in color but no less exceptional, the Queen Maria-José ruby ring is a fiery wonder of impeccable provenance. Formerly part of the personal collection of the last Queen of Italy, Maria-José, the historic ruby was a gift from the Italian bibliophile Tammaro de Marinis on the occasion of Maria-José’s wedding to Crown Prince Umberto in 1930. The Burmese ruby weighs 8.48 carats and is noted to have the coveted ‘pigeon’s blood’ red hue. The rare ruby is estimated at $6 to 9 million.

'The Queen Maria-José ruby ring'

 

Sotheby’s has a knack for record-breaking rubies in the past year. In November 2014, the auction house sold the ‘Graff Ruby’ for $8.6 million, a new world record for a ruby at the time. Then, in May of this year, Sotheby’s Geneva bested the world record for a ruby again with the sale of the ‘Sunrise Ruby’, an exquisite 25.59-carat Burmese ruby that sold for $30.3 million – more than three times the previous record.

Superb fancy vivid purple-pink diamond ring - Estimate $12,642,561 - 16,648,640

 

Another important stone in the sale is a pear-shaped 8.24-carat Fancy Vivid Purple-Pink diamond, estimated at $12.6 to 16.6 million. Last year, in October, Sotheby’s Hong Kong offered a 8.41 carat Fancy Vivid Purple-Pink diamond, which sold for $17,778,247, a world auction record price for a fancy vivid pink diamond.

Natural pearl, emerald and diamond jabot pin, Cartier, 1920s - Estimate $114,459 - 228,919

 

While the sale boasts a bevy of remarkably rare gems, it also offers a plentitude of highly collectible jewels, including hree magnificent tiaras. Cartier is well represented in the sale, with terrific examples illustrating the breadth and talent of the maison throughout the 20th century: from a delicate 1920s natural pearl, emerald and diamond jabot pin, its design inspired by a traditional Indian sarpech, a turban ornament, to a more modern emerald, ruby, mother-of-pearl and diamond ‘New Khandy’ parrot brooch and everything in between.

 

A number of Cartier pieces from the 1940s and 1950s display the creative spirit during and after World War II. A citrine suite in particular is a stunning illustration of beautiful jewelry made during the wartime rationing, during which the more precious materials were strictly limited.

Topaz bangle, Suzanne Belperron, circa 1935 - Estimate $40,581 - 61,392

The sale also includes beautiful pieces by renown jewelers such as René Lalique, Suzanne Belperron, René Boivin, and Jacques Lacloche as well as notable jewels from the world’s most prestigious jewelry houses, including Bulgari, Harry Winston, Tiffany & Co. and Van Cleef & Arpels. For connoisseurs looking to add contemporary pieces to their collections, the sale offers stunning jewels by JAR, Alexandre Reza and Hemmerle.

Gemstone trends: cool colours and cuts for 2016

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Author:  Rachael Taylor

Source: The Jewellery Editor

Whether it’s a quirky setting, an unusual cut or a colourful stone, these gemstone trends for 2016 stand out from the crowd.

There is no doubt that, when it comes to jewellery trends, the popularity of coloured gemstones has skyrocketed. No longer are the windows along Bond Street or Place Vendôme achromatic pockets of diamonds, but bouquets of colour, and according to Bonhams, the prices achieved for coloured gemstone jewellery have risen 2,200% in the past 10 years.

“Coloured gemstones continue to appeal immensely to our customers looking to invest in fine jewellery, with pieces featuring coloured diamonds and multi-coloured gemstones constantly growing in popularity,” confirms Helen David, fashion director at luxury London jewellery destination, Harrods.

See more fine jewellery available at Harrods

This year, there has been a very clear trend within coloured gemstones – a desire for blue stones. The shimmering black opals set into the Capri jewels of the Acte V collection by Louis Vuitton; the mesmerising Paraiba tourmaline set into a Chopard ring unveiled at Paris Couture Week; the clusters of turquoise and aquamarine worn around the neck of Cate Blanchett at the Oscars, plucked from the Tiffany Blue Book collection.

Hinatuan ring set with labradorite by Biiju.

But what will next year hold? “I think we’ll continue to see the trend for organic shapes, rough cuts and textures,” offers Joanna Boyen, who runs jewellery brand Biiju, which allows shoppers to customise designs online by selecting composable gemstone elements. “I think it’s going to get very interesting, with more of the unusual stones taking centre stage. It’s an exciting time because consumers are much more aware and more accepting of these stones now, and with bespoke and personalised jewellery being so much in demand, having a statement stone which is different and a talking point is very attractive.”

As well as choosing stones that are lesser known, one of the ways to make a statement with gemstones is to opt for an unusual cut over a classic cut. The shape of the gemstone might look the same at first glance, but peer into the stone and you may be able to see unusual facet work underneath it, such asSheldon Bloomfield’s large aquamarine cocktail ring.

Some new jewellery designs for 2016 even have smaller gemstones hidden beneath the main gem. Suzanne Kalan jewellery, which recently launched at Harrods, includes wonderful pieces that layer transparent stones such as topaz and quartz over clusters of round brilliant or baguette diamonds.

The Caged collection by Melanie Georgacopoulos traps pearls inside golden cages.

Another quirky twist in the realm of jewellery trends is overprotective settings. For these designs, gemstones are wrapped inside extra, often diamond-set, fronds of metal, such as Kiki McDonough’s Luna collection, or trapped inside cages such as the pearls in the Caged range of Melanie Georgacopoulos jewellery. And Brazilian jeweller Moritz Glikoffers an interesting line with diamonds or coloured gemstones trapped inside sapphire glass cases.

For London jeweller Gee Woods, coloured gemstones have become very popular with her clients – particularly yellow hues of sapphires, citrines and diamonds – but she says that demand for unusual stones also applies to diamonds. “Recently I’ve noticed clients seem to be looking for something a bit more exciting than a modern brilliant cut,” she says. “I’m being asked to find old mine-cut diamonds, fancy coloured diamonds and interesting cuts.”

Whether your choice of gemstone jewellery in 2016 will be set with white diamonds or one of nature’s cornucopia of coloured gemstones, just make sure that you opt for something that makes you stand out.

Read article

Gemfields – recalibrating supply for a softer market

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The company delivered results in line with expectations and is positioning itself for further growth.

This Just In: Jewelry Retail Sales Are Improving

Image Courtesy of Edahn Golan

Image Courtesy of Edahn Golan

Author: Edahn Golan

The most pressing fundamental issue for the global diamond industry today is the decline in consumer demand. Hopefully, this is changing, as US retail sales of fine jewelry have posted several consecutive rises recently, signaling a turn for the better.

In August of this year, fine jewelry sales increased 2.4% year-over-year, the fourth consecutive month of increases. Fine jewelry sales totaled an estimated $4.9 billion and overall jewelry and watch sales an estimated $5.5 billion.

JEWELRY RETAIL SALES BREAK RECORDS

This level of sales is significant in a number of ways: first, because it is already a clear trend. When sales increased year-over-year in May for the first time in five months, it might have been a fluke. When trade figures are first published, they are preliminary and tend to be later revised. However, unless there is a major revision that updates figures a few years back, these figures are final and very solid.

Another reason these figures are significant is the month-over-month trend. It is in sync with buying trends of past years showing that even if the figures are revised a little up or down, they are still in line with consumer behavior.

Read more at: Edahn Golan

Auction house Bonhams sparkles as rare gemstone is expected to fetch around £200k

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By DAILY MAIL CITY & FINANCE REPORTER

Source: thisismoney.com

Auction house Bonhams is hoping to tap into the resurgence of coloured stones with the sale of a rare £200,000 gemstone that has not been put up for auction in a century.

The 50.13 carats octagonal-cut stone the size of a small plum is called the Hope Spinel and was part of the collection owned by wealthy merchant banker Henry Philip Hope.

Expert Tobias Kormind, managing director at 77 Diamonds, said: ‘As the number of ultra-wealthy are on the rise, investors and collectors are looking further afield than the obvious white diamond to the rare spectrum of coloured diamonds and gemstones including lesser known ones like spinel.’