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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)

 

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.’

Gemfields extends transparency efforts in new emerald operation

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Source: luxurydaily.com

Colored-gemstone miner Gemfields has announced its controlling interests in two emerald projects located in Colombia.

Gemfields sources many of the precious gemstones used in high jewelry, with brands such as Graff Diamonds and Bulgari as clients. Recently, due to the environmental impact of and social risks involved in mining, Gemfields has pledged transparency and has consistently used its social media accounts to share brand happenings and projects.

The first project Gemfields has acquired interest of, at 70 percent, is the Coscuez Emerald Mine. In operation for more than 25 years, the Coscuez Emerald Mine has produced some of the country’s finest emeralds.

Gemfields also shared the preliminary geological due diligence studies that were conducted between October 2013 and August 2014 for the Coscuez Emerald Mine. Sharing this information furthers Gemfields’ openness in its operations and the mines it supports.

Gemfields’ second project is an exploration prospect currently held by Isam Europa S.L. The acquisition agreement of 75 percent and 70 percent interests in two Colombian companies with mining rights has been approved and issued. The contract covers approximately 20,000 hectares where minor mining operations have been conducted amid the greenery.

Both of the Gemfields projects are located in the Boyacá state of Colombia.

On its social media accounts, Gemfields also shared a word from its CEO, Ian Harebottle. In his statement, Mr. Harebottle said, “Gemfields is delighted to announce its entry into Colombia, home to some of history’s most legendary emerald mines and a country with tremendous potential. The proposed acquisitions will require further work and additional exploration before any meaningful production commences but they are clearly in line with our strategy of expanding Gemfields’ global footprint in a considered yet cautious fashion.

“Transparency, responsibility, marketing, collaboration and teamwork have been key tenets of what Gemfields has been able to deliver within the Zambian emerald sector and more recently with our ruby deposit in Mozambique.”

In another message of transparency Gemfields shared details of its operation of sapphire mines in Sri Lanka, rounding out its sources of the gemstone industry’s “big three”.

Moonstone

  
Source: addmorecolortoyourlife.com

Moonstone
The ancient Romans theorized that moonstone, with its unearthly shimmer, was formed from frozen moonlight. This appealing gem variety does shine with a cool lunar light but it is the mineral feldspar, quite terrestrial in origin. The shimmer, which is called schiller or adularescence, is caused by the intergrowth of two different types of feldspar, with different refractive indexes.
Moonstones come in a variety of colors. The body color can range from colorless to gray, brown, yellow, green, or pink. The clarity ranges from transparent to translucent. The best moonstone has a blue sheen, perfect clarity, and a colorless body color.
Sometimes moonstone will have an eye as well as sheen. Another related feldspar variety is known as rainbow moonstone. In this variety of labradorite feldspar, the sheen is a variety of rainbow hues, from pink to yellow, to peach, purple, and blue. Sometimes one gem will show all these colors.
Fine moonstone is quite rare and becoming rarer. It is mined in Sri Lanka and Southern India. The rainbow variety can be found in India and Madagascar.
Moonstones are usually cut in a smooth-domed oval cabochon shape to maximize the effect. Sometimes they are carved to show a man-in-the-moon face.
Moonstone has a hardness of 6 to 6.5. It should not be stored in contact with your other gemstones to prevent scratching. Clean with mild dish soap: use a toothbrush to scrub behind the stone where dust can collect.

Laurence Graff awarded an OBE for his services to jewellery

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Source: The Jewellery Editor
Author: Maria Doulton

Laurence Graff, Chairman of Graff Diamonds, has been named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List to receive an OBE for his services to jewellery as he celebrates his 60th anniversary in the jewellery industry.

Graff, who began his career at age 15 as a jeweller’s apprentice in Hatton Garden, says: “From humble beginnings and a lifetime working in the industry, I am extremely proud to receive such an honour.”

“I came from a background where diamonds meant something because so many Jewish people came out of East Europe and suffered and lived off their diamonds,” says the man behind the sparkle of some of the most fabulous diamonds of our times. From a family of Russian immigrants, he arrived in London’s East End with little more than a keen eye for business and a love of valuable things.
His first insight into business came from his childhood Sunday visits to the jewellers in Black Lion’s Yard in Whitechapel, East London. “They were small people doing small business, thinking they were big business, out there in the market, counting out the cash. That was all I knew,” recalls Graff in an earlier interview.

Following a jewellery apprenticeship, in 1962 Graff opened “La Petite Bijouterie” Ltd in London’s Lancaster Gate. Today, Graff Diamonds purchases around 60% of the world supply of yellow diamonds, which are highly visible in his Bond Street shop window. He is also known for his interest in larger diamonds, which would explain why the typical price for a Graff jewel is in the six-figure range.

Everyone knows Graff as he is one of a handful of buyers of big stones in the world. It is often said that he has handled more diamonds of notable rarity and beauty than any other jeweller, including the Wittelsbach- Graff, the Idol’s Eye, the Imperial Blue, the Blue Ice, the Magnificence, the Graff Pink, the Delaire Sunrise, the Graff Constellation, the Flame and the Graff Sweethearts.

A fully integrated operation, Graff Diamonds is involved in all the processes, from rough stone to final ring, employs 700 people around the world and owns 20 boutiques. Safdico, based in Johannesburg, is the house’s cutting and polishing company, and the first stop for rough diamonds, where 300 craftsmen sort, cut and polish 10,000 carats a year. The stones will then either be used by Graff Diamonds or sent to Antwerp, New York or Mauritius. Depending on the size and colour, they will be cut, polished and made into jewellery or simply sold on.

With 95% of all its works exported, Graff Diamonds has won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise four times, most recently in 2006. All Graff jewels are made by 70 jewellers in the workrooms below Graff’s office on Albermarle Street in Mayfair, London.