National Jeweler Network

Grading

Worldwide, industry reacts to undisclosed synthetics

December 09, 2013

New York--Synthetic diamonds--specifically those being passed off as natural--were one of the top stories in the jewelry industry last year, and it doesn’t look the man-made stones will be relinquishing their news-making reign anytime soon.

The issue of undisclosed synthetics first came to light in a major way in May 2012 when hundreds of them turned up at a grading laboratory in Antwerp. This October, reports again surfaced about large volumes of undisclosed synthetic melee being mixed in with natural.

These latest claims touched off a wave of reactions from players all over the globe, including the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) in India, the Israel Diamond Exchange and, in the United States, the Diamond Manufacturers & Importers Association of America (DMIA).

The GJEPC said its concerns about mixing undisclosed synthetics with natural diamonds arose from media reports and two instances of "actual undisclosed mixing being detected." The organization formed a “special committee” to look into these two cases and, as of Monday, said the investigation was ongoing.

Recently, the GJEPC, along with a number of other India-based jewelry trade organizations, formed a Natural Diamond Monitoring Committee to enhance consumer confidence, ensure “proper segregation” of natural and synthetic stones and create policies to avoid the misrepresentation of lab-grown stones.  On Friday, the GJEPC, along with the Gemmological Institute of India, opened a Diamond Detection and Resource Center (DDRC) at the Bharat Diamond Bourse.

De Beers’ Varda Shine and Paul Rowley were on hand for the opening, along with GJEPC Chairman Vipul Shah. The center will provide detection services for any parcels submitted, offer resources creating awareness about lab-grown diamonds and testing methods, and provide services to diamond companies, including on-the-job training of staff in detection methods.

In the U.S., a group of industry organizations led by the DMIA plans to hold an invitation-only meeting in New York on Jan. 8 to discuss the issue.

DMIA President Ronnie VanderLinden said representatives from law enforcement as well as from a number of key industry organizations, Jewelers of America and the American Gem Society among them, will attend the meeting.  So will representatives from three grading labs: the Gemological Institute of America, the International Gemological Institute and the European Gemological Laboratory (EGL USA).

The goal of the DMIA meeting in New York is to “put enforceable measures in place to prevent synthetics (from) being presented as natural diamonds,” the organization said.

Meanwhile, in Israel, the Israel Diamond Exchange announced recently that it is creating an “awareness campaign” for synthetic diamonds, a campaign that kicked off Sunday with a speech in Israel by industry journalist and consultant Chaim Even-Zohar.