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)

 

Tiffany uses same-sex couple in ad. Who’ll follow?

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Source: National Jeweler
Author: Michelle Graff

January 12, 2015

As part of the company’s new campaign offering a modern take on love, Tiffany’s will debut its first advertisement featuring a gay couple this spring.

New York–Tiffany & Co. is set to debut its first advertisement featuring a gay couple this spring, part of the venerable 178-year-old retailer’s take on modern love.

Called “Will You?” and shot by fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh, the spring 2015 campaign takes a “truly modern look at love, the proposal and marriage,” Tiffany said.

It features seven different scenes of couples.

The ad with the same-sex couple–which the retailer publicly has confirmed is its first–has two men who are not models but, rather, a real-life couple. It shows them sitting together on a New York City stoop and the text reads, “Will you promise to never stop completing my sentences or singing off-key, which I am afraid you do often? And will you let today be the first sentence of one long story that never ever ends? Will you?”

Tiffany said the scenes depicted in “Will You?” are meant to convey the idea that they were captured at that moment in time when the couple realized they were meant to be together forever.

The New York-based jeweler joins the growing list of companies, both in and outside the jewelry industry, now openly marketing to the LGBT community. Family-owned chain Rogers & Hollands, for example, added Rony Tennenbaum’s line of wedding jewelry geared toward the LGBT community to the inventory of two Chicago-area stores this past spring, following Ben Bridge Jeweler, which added Tennenbaum’s line to some of its stores in July 2013.

In addition to the gay couple, there are more traditional couples in the Tiffany campaign–young and just starting out–as well as a couple that already has a child together by the time they reach their wedding day, a nod to the growing number of people who are choosing to have children outside of marriage.

“These impactful scenes convey that modern love is not linear and that true love comes in a variety of forms,” Tiffany said. “These couples represent the spectrum of people who visit Tiffany every day to find that uniquely symbolic ring, the ultimate expression of love.”

“Will You?” is a global campaign that will use digital, video and social components. It is set to debut in the spring.

Opal’s essence continues to delight

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Source: National Jeweler

Author: Brecken Branstrator

December 19, 2014

New York — With an appearance that long inspired cultures to believe in its supernatural abilities and powers, the opal’s value comes not only from the range of colors it displays but also the increasing rarity of high-quality stones.

Opals are the product of seasonal rains that drench the dry ground in an arid place, such as Australia’s outback. The water soaks in and penetrates deep, carrying silica with it. Then, the water evaporates during a dry spell, leaving silica deposits behind to form opals.

Even though all opals are formed through this same process, the resulting stones are unique.

No two opals look the same, and the play of color for each precious opal is different, giving them wide-ranging appeal. (There are two main types of opal–while common opal has a milky, dull color, precious opal displays the range of color that is so valued.)

“In Lighting Ridge black opal, people tend to like the combination of blues and greens, which have been the most popular with us,” said Niveet Nagpal, designer and president of Omi Privé. “But with true collectors looking for special pieces, if the opal displays more red flashes, these are the most sought after and valuable.”

Opal’s recently returning popularity with consumers also can be attributed to a greater number of designers using the stones in more of their pieces, bringing high-quality opals in front of consumers again and driving demand.

“Opal is re-entering the popular market and, where they were once using a little bit lower-quality (stones) at one point, they have delved into the finer goods over the last few years,” said Matt Hopkins of Hopkins Opal.

The rush slows
Today’s supplies of opal come mostly from Australia, Mexico, and the United States, though Hopkins said that supply is constrained in Australia at the moment as companies realize that there’s more money to be made in mining other natural resources in that country, such as industrial metals.

“There’s been a lack of producing areas for more than a decade,” he said, but noted that the increased demand for opals means that miners likely will return to prospecting for the gem once they realize that there is consistent consumer demand.

Hopkins said he sees a “glimmer of hope” in a few places in Australia. (He declined giving specifics as these locations–provided they start producing–will become a source for his company.) “The one decent supply we’re seeing is boulder opals in medium to high quality, which are still being cut and coming out.”

He adds that the only type of opal that perhaps isn’t seeing a major climb in demand is the commercial opal that is sourced for mass market, lower-end jewelry that has less play of color. “People don’t really have that much interest in that anymore.”

Overall, Hopkins said he sees opal demand outstripping supply in both the U.S. and Asia, noting that there is a renewed interested in colored gems in general as consumers see high-quality large gemstones as investment pieces.

This makes sourcing high-quality opals difficult. Many dealers that Hopkins knows still are working off old stock, though replenishing that at the same price they did even a few years ago is much harder.

Jonathan Farnsworth of Parlé Designs reiterated what Hopkins is seeing in the market, noting that the hardest to source currently are high-quality black and crystal opals, as well as opal doublets, which Farnsworth attributed to labor costs that had gotten too high to validate production.

He said there is plenty of Ethiopian opal in the market, which is helping to create demand for opals as a whole as more consumers are seeing them. He also said that he feels that production will begin picking up as trends drive demand.

“It’s a little cyclical, because as demand increases, more production should increase as well, especially as oil prices drop and it becomes easier for miners to mine. Then the supply will be there to further feed and grow demand,” he said.

A price hike
Like many of the rarest gems, the price of the highest quality opals have been rising slightly over the past few years, though Hopkins notes that fine black opal always has been, and continues to be, fairly expensive.

Intense red-orange fire opal from Mexico also is extremely rare and highly valued, with its strong play of color, with price and supply following the similar patterns as the other types of high quality stones.

Though the best fire opal generally sells for less than high-quality precious opal, fire opal pieces with exceptional color will go for more than specimens of precious opal with a less-than-stellar play of color.

Even though prices are climbing steadily at the high end, it’s the mid-range-quality opals–falling between $150 and $700 per carat at wholesale–where the upswing is the greatest, Hopkins said, a trend that he expects to continue for the next couple of years.

Hopkins said that he is seeing opal prices increase along all points in the supply chain, including “field prices,” which refers to the price of the opal when sold from the miners directly to the field buyers, which have gone up some 20 percent over the last year.

Designer’s delight
Much of opal’s value, and its appeal, is the stone’s ability to show so many different colors from every angle as it diffracts light. That’s why opals normally are cut into cabochons rather than being faceted; it enhances the color play.

From a design perspective, the gem’s color show gives jewelry-makers the ability to pair opals with a variety of other gemstones, bringing out different colors depending on the gem with which the opal is set.

“Pairing opals with multiple colored gemstones and even different metals can contrast with or emphasize specific colors found within the opal,” Nagpal said.

This is also one of the reasons that designer Penny Preville told National Jeweler that she loves to work with opals.

Not only do the stones come in her favorite color, blue, but the different speckles of color that come out means that it works well with many other stones that she may want to use, as well as any metal.

She said she has noticed that her customers currently want the dark blue opals the most.

“I see opals as becoming more of a staple and, in a way, becoming their own category of sorts. It’ll be interesting to see where it goes because there’s so much more that designers can do with it. I definitely think that opal has a long life ahead of it,” Preville said.

‘Princie Diamond’ expected to fetch $30-$40M

‘Princie Diamond’ expected to fetch $30-$40M

Source: The National Jeweler

The “Princie Diamond” has passed through the hands of royalty as well as one of the world’s top jewelry auction houses. This month, it will appear at auction for the second time at Christie’s in New York. Photo credit: Christie’s Images Ltd.

New York–Christie’s New York is poised to sell the largest fancy intense pink Golconda diamond ever offered at auction when the “Princie Diamond” goes up for bid on April 16.

The Princie is a 34.65-carat fancy intense pink cushion-cut diamond whose origin can be traced to the ancient Golconda mines in south central India. The stone was first recorded as belonging to the royal family of Hyderabad, who ruled one of the wealthiest provinces of the Mughal Empire.

First offered at auction in 1960 by the Nizam of Hyderabad, the London branch of Van Cleef & Arpels purchased the Princie Diamond for £46,000 (approximately $69,588 in today’s currency). The diamond got its name at a party at Van Cleef’s Paris store, where it was christened in honor of the 14-year-old Prince of Baroda, who attended the gathering.

This is the first time in 50 years that the diamond has appeared at auction, and Christie’s expects it to “achieve in the region of $30 million to $40 million.”

“One of the largest and finest pink diamonds in the world, the Princie Diamond carries a fabulous provenance. The rich history, combined with its rare pink hue, conveys a special charm, which will speak to all collectors in the world seeking the best of the best in gemstones,” said Francois Curiel, chairman of Christie’s jewelry department.

The Princie Diamond is part of Christie’s sale of Magnificent Jewels, which will offer nearly 300 pieces, from colored and colorless diamonds to gemstones, natural pearls and signed vintage jewelry.

Source: The National Jeweler

http://www.nationaljeweler.com/nj/fashion/a/~30674-Princie-Diamond-expected-to-fetch

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Company drops attempt to block Ekati sale

Courtesy of National Jeweler

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Toronto –The $500 million deal that would transfer ownership of Canada’s Ekati Diamond Mine from BHP Billiton to Harry Winston Diamond Corp. is free to proceed, Harry Winston announced Monday.

According to a news release from Toronto-based Harry Winston, C. Fipke Holdings Ltd. discontinued the lawsuit filed just a few weeks ago against Harry Winston, BHP Billiton Canada Ltd., Stuart Blusson and Archon Minerals that attempted to block the sale of the mine.

Harry Winston and BHP Billiton announced in November that BHP Billiton, which had expressed its desire to exit the diamond business, would be selling its Canadian diamond mining operations as well as its sorting and sales facilities in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories and Antwerp to Harry Winston in a deal worth half a billion dollars.

BHP Billiton was under contract to offer its minority joint venture partners the right of first refusal on its mining operations before selling them to Harry Winston. One of those partners, C. Fipke Holdings Ltd., objected to the sale. (Blusson and Archon Minerals are the other minority joint venture partners.)

Fipke alleged that Harry Winston’s debt financing arrangements for the acquisition interfered with its ability to arrange financing and wanted a court order prohibiting the purchase unless and until BHP Billiton gave it a revised offer.

The dropping of the lawsuit clears the way for the deal to proceed, though it still is subject to satisfaction of closing conditions, including regulatory approvals. A Harry Winston spokesperson told National Jeweler in mid-January that they expect the sale to close in two to three months’ time.

Harry Winston is a company in the midst of major changes as it transitions from being a diamond miner and retailer into solely a mining company.

In addition to its acquisition of BHP Billiton’s diamond business, the company is rumored to be a frontrunner to buy partner Rio Tinto out of the Diavik Diamond Mine. The two companies currently operate Diavik as a joint venture that is 60 percent owned by Rio Tinto, with remaining 40 percent owned by Harry Winston.

Harry Winston also recently announced a deal to sell its retail division to the Swatch Group in a $1 billion deal.

GIA’s lab receiving HPHT diamonds up to 18 cts

We publish courtesy of National Jeweler

Photo by: GIA

New York — The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has noted an uptick in the number of 5- to 10-carat high-pressure, high-temperature (HPHT) treated type IIa diamonds, the lab reported in the latest edition of its Gems & Gemology eBrief.

Authored by Wuyi Wang of GIA Laboratory, New York, the report says the New York lab has examined an increasing number of these larger treated diamonds in recent weeks, with some of the stones weighing more than 10 carats. This included an 18.12-carat diamond that was color graded F. Careful spectroscopic analysis provided confirmed that this big stone was HPHT treated.

The eBrief goes on to state that it is “somewhat unusual” to see larger HPHT-treated diamonds, because HPHT annealing is more likely to damage the diamond and so isn’t typically used on larger stones. It is unclear if this is a new trend or just a few isolated stones, but GIA theorizes that one possible explanation for the larger HPHT-treated diamonds is that more suitable starting materials have become available in the market.