Natural Diamond Vs Synthetic Diamond


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.


[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 (

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



Zimbabwe diamonds flood Dubai

Source: the Standard



Report by Financial Times

International sanctions have targeted President Robert Mugabe’s inner circle and the country’s economic pillars such as the diamond industry, revenues from which have allegedly been used to finance the ruling party and the security forces.

But the country has found a crucial route to global markets.

Over the past five years Dubai — known for its relentless pursuit of new markets and willingness to deal with all manner of regimes — has become a significant conduit for legal Zimbabwean exports of rough diamonds.

“Dubai was our saviour,” said Christopher Mutsvanga, chairman of the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe, which is under US sanctions.

According to the latest available figures, Dubai imported US$408 million worth of Zimbabwean diamonds in 2011, up from US$1,7 million in 2008.

While it is not illegal for Dubai to buy them, some gems from Marange fields — which account for the vast majority of Zimbabwean stones — are tantamount to “conflict diamonds”, human rights activists say.

With the diamond fields allegedly under the control of the military — which is loyal to Mugabe’s Zanu PF party — his opponents say profits are siphoned off to fund the security forces, which have been repeatedly accused of human rights abuses.

For his part, Obert Mpofu, Mines and Mining Development minister, says sanctions are “politically-motivated” and the measures of “former colonisers”.

Most rough stones that arrive in Dubai are re-exported for polishing, mainly to the manufacturing centre of India. Other destinations include Belgium, China and Thailand.

In 2011 the Kimberly Process, a co-operative system between 80 states to certify that diamonds are not contributing to conflict, approved Zimbabwean gems for sale.
One of its founders, Global Witness, which campaigns against the abuse of natural resources to fund repressive regimes, then withdrew from the process, saying it had become an accomplice to diamond laundering.

Global Witness say there is not enough oversight of the provenance of stones arriving in western markets.

The pressure group says Dubai has become a popular staging post for such “tainted goods,” allowing companies to avoid scrutiny in western markets by re-exporting gemstones via the Emirates.

“Dubai is crucial,” says Emily Armistead of Global Witness. “It is not covered by sanctions and so it’s an easy route for diamonds to pass through and avoid these restrictions.”

Global Witness says its investigations have revealed links between some joint-venture diamond mining companies and the military, police and intelligence organisations loyal to Mugabe.

“Global Witness’ investigations point to a serious risk that diamond revenues could be used to fund violence in this year’s election,” the advocacy group said this year.

Officials in Dubai say they did not import Zimbabwean gems when the Kimberly Process restricted Marange gem trade. They also deny claims made several years ago by its former chief executive that the Dubai bourse had turned a blind eye to “conflict diamonds”.

The trade with Zimbabwe comes as Dubai’s share of the global gem business has risen.

Larger volumes from bigger producers such as Russia, Botswana and Angola has pushed the value of the diamond trade in Dubai from negligible rates in 2005, when the emirate set up its diamond bourse, to US$39 billion in 2011.

The diamond bourse is located in Almas Tower, the region’s tallest commercial tower, part of the fast-growing Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), which boasts five new corporate registrations a day.

Mpofu says the government is setting up an office at the DMCC to boost exports further.

The DMCC plans more incentives to boost the trade in gems.

“Dubai has a clear African strategy,” says Peter Meeus, chairman of the Dubai Diamond Exchange, home to 600 diamond companies. “We are here to assist African states to trade here,” says Malcolm Wall Morris, DMCC chief executive.

This year, the EU suspended most sanctions after the country’s voters approved a new constitution, limiting presidential powers and paving the way for elections. —Financial Times

For Zimbabwe’s cash-strapped government, diamond sales should be an important source of revenue.

However, Tendai Biti, the finance minister and member of the MDC-T, which shares power with Zanu PF, regularly complains about the murkiness of the industry and the small amounts it contributes to state coffers.

Biti has battled for increased transparency in the management of diamond revenues without success, underscoring the limited powers of MDC members of the dysfunctional unity government that took office in 2009.

Last year, the country exported US$760 million worth of diamonds—its second-biggest export earner after tobacco —while the government’s official take was US$84 million.

Opposition politicians fear the diamond money will go towards keeping the security forces on Mugabe’s side and could be used to help to fund the Zanu PF political campaign.

Zimbabwe and De Beers’ decline

Source: New Zimbabwe

Author: Tafadzwa Musarara


OBERT Mpofu has become the first and only African mines minister to take De Beers head on, and successfully inflict collateral damage on the century-old world diamond cartel leader.
Mpofu has forced the Oppenheimer dynasty to make a hasty exit from the conglomerate which they had ruled as their own family fiefdom for more than 70 years.
This is a big feat for a mines minister of a third world country to fight a worldwide establishment with a foundation deeply rooted in the Scramble for Africa. Founded in 1888 by Cecil John Rhodes, De Beers’s diverse business operations include diamond extracting, trading, cutting and polishing, jewellery manufacturing and retail.
The former diamond-mining giant has a record of providing massive material and financial assistance to former repressive colonial regimes in countries where it operated, including Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. De Beers grew phenomenally during the apartheid era when it bought several businesses that were closing in protest against the repressive political system in South Africa. This has resulted in De Beers owning at least 40% of major entities listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. During apartheid, De Beers crafted all statutes and policies on diamond trade in South Africa and benefitted from black cheap labour.

But in Zimbabwe, after decades of looting, De Beers is well and truly in retreat, soon to be a footnote in history.

“De Beers stole our diamonds,” bellowed Mpofu during his address to the Dubai Diamond Conference last month.
“We had De Beers in Zimbabwe exploring in Marange for 15 years. They exported 100,000 metric tonnes of diamond ore to South Africa for what they claimed was to carry out laboratory tests. No results of that exercise were revealed to the government of Zimbabwe as required by law. Soon after their departure, it took villagers living in the same particular area few days to start mining diamonds.”

And speaking to members of African Diamond Producers in Jerusalem on the sidelines of the 2010 Kimberly Plenary, Mpofu said: “Fellow Africans, our problems getting KP certification [to export diamonds] have serious underlying currencies.

“Apart from our bilateral arguments with Britain, we see that De Beers is behind the funding of this hostile civic society. We have a history with De Beers.

Mpofu had to contend with and defeat the De Beers machinery which could not fathom that for the first time in its century-old cartel, it had failed to lay its dirty hands on the world biggest and most lucrative diamond find.

The KP-supervised diamond sales of 2009 and 2011 impacted negatively on De Beers’ share price leading to the ousting of its chairman, Nick Oppenheimer, as other shareholders felt he had failed to stop Mpofu’s growing popularity in KP and the massive diamond sales from Marange which were now deflating world diamond prices.

Oppenheimer’s imperial management style failed to conquer the Marange find as the Zimbabwe phenomenon triggered the emergence of new entrants, mainly from India, who could not enter the diamond industry previously due to De Beers’ imposed restrictive measures.

The movie Blood Diamonds tremendouslyexposed De Beers’ dealing in diamonds mined from rebel-controlled areas. However, the threat made by Mpofu to take De Beers has worsened its integrity woes.

The battle for the Marange diamonds Kimberly Process (KP) certification had serious invisible forces at play, which informed the resistance and the demonisation of these mining operations. The quantum of financial resources deployed by De Beers to civic society organisations to carry “oversight” on Marange is the highest given in the history of the KP.

Mpofu’s three-year fight for the KP certification of these mines and re-instatement of his country as a full KP member did not only re-shape the jurisprudence of this diamond trade controlling body but put Zimbabwe on the international map.

A recent report, South Africa’s De Beers: The most unethical corporation, authored by the St Antoninus Institute, a Catholic business think tank, described De Beers as the most manipulative corporation in the world. The report adds: “DeBeers is guilty of more than all that. It is an integral part of the old-boy network instituted by the British and encompassing different US operations and interests for the purpose of controlling international governments and populations for the good and in the interest of a number of corporations, especially banks.

“The American version of this international network is called the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR). Anyone drawing attention to the dark side of the objectives of this outfit is branded and derided as giving credence to the ‘conspiracy theory’.

“DeBeers supports CFR and its other international version as they are means to protect the integrity of its cartel. The other major members of CFR, the banks, support the group because it allows them to introduce their people in all different types of governments and political parties so that these government will never consider commandeering or nationalising the assets of the banks (bankers are paranoid about collaterals but how do you enforce a collateral against a sovereign government?).

“Through CFR, De Beers undermines the political process of several countries, including the US.”
The fall of De Beers in Zimbabwe and the continued fight by Mpofu brings relief to many other African countries who could not stop the Wild West behaviour in their areas of jurisdiction.

Since the discovery of diamonds in the Kalahari desert in 1969 by De Beers, the Bushman – the indigenes of this area – have never known any peace as they face displacement any time. It is expected, therefore, that Batswana activists are going to ride on Mpofu’s victory as they now realise that zizi harina nyanga.

Tafadzwa Musarara is the chairman of Resource Exploitation Watch

Charles Taylor found guilty of war crimes

The Hague, Netherlands–An international tribunal convicted former Liberian President Charles Taylor on Thursday of planning, aiding and abetting war crimes during the civil war in Sierra Leone, the 1990s conflict that gave rise to the term “blood diamond” because the stones were used to provide guns and ammunition for rebel groups.

Handed down in The Hague, the ruling in the case said that the now-64-year-old Taylor was guilty of aiding and abetting crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, rape, the enlistment of child soldiers and sexual slavery, according to various news reports. He provided weapons, food, medical supplies, fuel and equipment to forces in Sierra Leone that committed atrocities during that country’s civil war.

In return for supplying weapons, Taylor received blood or “conflict” diamonds from Sierra Leone, including one 45-carat and two 25-carat diamonds, the judge said during the trial.

However, Taylor was found not guilty of either ordering or planning the atrocities.

The six-year-long trial attracted widespread media attention, most notably in the summer of 2010 when supermodel Naomi Campbell took the stand to testify about some diamonds, which she referred to as “dirty little pebbles,” she had received from the former Liberian leader in 1997.

In a statement issued Thursday, the U.S. State Department welcomed the ruling and said the trial is of “enormous historical and legal significance,” because Taylor is the first “powerful” head of state to be brought to judgment before an international tribunal on charges of mass atrocities and violations of international humanitarian law.

The sentencing hearing for Taylor, who has maintained his innocence, is set for May 16. A final decision on his sentence is expected later that month.

We publish courtesy of National Jeweler

Russell Simmons Speaks On Blood Diamonds

We publish courtesy of AtlantaPost

Last week, in light of the controversy surrounding supermodel Naomi Campbell’s summons to testify in a war crimes trial for former Liberian President Charles Taylor, we published a piece comparing Campbell’s level of involvement in supporting “blood diamonds” with that of hip-hop mogul’s Russell Simmons. In the statement below, Simmons defends his stance on the diamond industry in Africa.

"Russell Simmons"When the Blood Diamond movie hit theatres in 2006, I had a position about diamonds and Sub-Saharan Africa, and in 2010 as there continue to be issues surrounding diamonds fueling greed and oppression of Africa, I have a position about diamonds and Sub-Saharan Africa. As simply as I can state my position on this complicated issue is if you come from a land like Africa, rich in the natural resource of diamonds, you should not be poor. Africans should have opportunities to empower themselves through education. That is my vision which is shared by everyone associated with the Diamond Empowerment Fund, the non-profit I founded in 2007 with others in the international diamond and jewelry industry which is dedicated to empowerment through education for young Africans in diamond producing nations.

I am not here to defend the diamond industry, but it’s a fact that diamonds are an important natural resource for Africa, and an important industry for diamond-producing nations. As with all natural resources around the world, here are complicated, moral questions that surround their extraction and who stands to benefit. In 2006, President Nelson Mandela personally asked me to share with those who would listen that the diamond industry provides great benefit to his nation of South Africa. At that same time, President Festus Mogae of Botswana shared with me his perspective on the fundamental role the diamond industry has had in the development of his nation into one of Africa’s most highly educated, prosperous nations, and that was powerful information for me. Yes, I do believe diamonds do more good than harm for Africa, but there’s tremendous needs that must be addressed for the people in diamond producing nations to overcome extreme poverty.

There’s so much more that must be done to help, and the Diamond Empowerment Fund is at work every day to raise awareness within the industry that there’s big need in the communities where diamonds come from. There’s a great opportunity for enlightened self interest to help improve the lives of the people where this natural resource comes from that they’ve profited from for many years and I believe the way to help is through supporting education projects like CODA City Campus and African Leadership Academy, which are opening doors for young Africans to build productive futures.

We would welcome a true dialogue on these issues with the Atlanta Post, instead of the uninformed assumptions you are perpetuating about the motives for my views and actions around promoting the good for Africa that comes
from diamonds.

Russell Simmons

Global Witness Warns Zimbabwe against Exporting Marange Diamonds

The following article is published courtesy of IDEX online

“Zimbabwe must not resume diamond exports from its troubled Marange diamond fields without prior permission from the Kimberley Process certification scheme,” warned Global Witness following a ruling by the Zimbabwean High Court that cleared the way to selling some 129,000 carats of diamonds.

On Monday, The High Court in Zimbabwe ruled that the government can start selling diamonds mined from claims belonging to Africa Consolidated Resources’ (ACR) in the Chiadzwa diamond fields.

Justice Bharat Patel dismissed an ACR application, which sought an interim order prohibiting the sale of diamonds mined from the disputed diamond fields by a number of government companies.

Following the High Court decision, the Minister of Mines, Obert Mpofu, told state media, “We are going to benefit from our diamonds whether with the KP or not.”

 The Kimberley Process called for a halt on the exports following reports of grave human rights abuses in the diamond fields, including murder, rape and forced labor.

 KP sent a review mission to investigate and an action plan was drafted with Zimbabwe. It included the appointment of a KP monitor. According to Global Witness, there is no sign that the country has implemented the necessary reforms. 

 “What has been taking place in Marange is unconscionable and there is no way that exports should restart until the government can prove that it has taken the necessary action to end the abuses and hold the perpetrators to account,” said Global Witness campaigner Elly Harrowell.

“If the government goes ahead with its plan to sell diamonds without prior approval from the Kimberley Process, it will be in breach of its commitments and should face suspension. Member states will need to act swiftly if they want to maintain the credibility of the scheme and protect consumer confidence in the international diamond market,” said Harrowell.

U.S. Kimberley Process Website Launched

The following brief is published courtesy of The National Jeweler Network

New York: The United States Kimberley Process Authority (USKPA) has launched a Web site designed to ease management of the Kimberley Process in the United States, and to serve as a model system for efforts to stem the flow of conflict diamonds worldwide, the organization announced in a news release.

The new Web site,, includes information on how to become a USKPA licensee authorized to use U.S. Kimberley Process (KP) certificates to export rough diamonds from the United States. It enables current licensees to manage their KP certificates in an efficient manner, to ensure compliance with appropriate U.S. legislation and regulations.

The Web site will facilitate U.S. Kimberley Process licensing, certificate issuance and record keeping for U.S. government compliance, making the process quicker and more efficient while reducing paperwork, the release states.

Gemological Science International (GSI), a New York-based grading laboratory, assisted in creating the Web site. GSI Chief Executive Officer Mark Gershburg said in the release that the Web site is an innovative step in the fight to keep conflict diamonds out of the trade.

“We believe that this Web site is the first of its kind in the world and may serve as a model of trade and government cooperation in the fight to eradicate conflict diamonds,” he said.

Gershburg serves on the USKPA’s board of directors along with Martin Hochbaum, managing director of the New York Diamond Dealers Club, and Cecilia Gardner, president and CEO of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee.

Based in New York, the USKPA is a not-for-profit trade association formed for the purpose of administering and controlling usage of U.S. Kimberley Process certificates for the export of rough diamonds from the United States. The USKPA is authorized by the U.S. government to provide U.S. Kimberley Process certificates to licensed entities.