National Jeweler Network

Grading

IGI receives 145 undisclosed synthetic diamonds

2012-05-21

New York--One of the world’s largest grading laboratories recently reported the discovery of hundreds of synthetic, colorless diamonds submitted as natural, though one of the companies mentioned in connection with the case--Florida-based Gemesis --is denying it is the source of the stones.

Roland LoriÉ, co-CEO of International Gemological Institute Worldwide (IGI), told National Jeweler in an interview on Monday that a diamond dealer purchased a parcel of about 600 stones he believed to be natural diamonds from a supplier.

“He was not suspicious at all,” he said.

The dealer submitted 145 of the stones to IGI’s Antwerp lab, where testing revealed that all 145 were synthetic, or lab-grown, diamonds, even though they were not disclosed as such. LoriÉ said the IGI checks every diamond that enters the lab to ensure it is natural.

Incidents involving smaller parcels of undisclosed synthetics also were reported at the IGI lab in Mumbai, and the Diamond Trading Co. issued a notice to sightholders that its Research Centre had been notified of an incident involving undisclosed synthetics in China.

The IGI said in an intra-laboratory alert that in each case the synthetics had similar characteristics and therefore may have a common origin. They were diamonds created using chemical vapor deposition (CVD)--as opposed to the high-pressure, high-temperature process (HPHT) used to create colored diamonds--that were F to J color with clarity ranging between VVS to VS. Sizes ranged from 0.30 to 0.70 carats and all were type IIa diamonds.

The incidents led IGI to issue an intra-laboratory alert warning that stated in part, “We now suspect that the volumes of colorless synthetic diamonds being released on the global markets have increased noticeably and may perhaps already be prevalent throughout the diamond centers.” 

The 145 diamonds that surfaced at the IGI lab in Antwerp originated with the manufacturer, were sold to a diamond company and then purchased by the dealer, though LoriÉ notes the dealer was under the impression they were natural diamonds, and they were priced as such. “He’s the first victim in that story,” he said.

While the names of any of the parties involved have not been disclosed, in its alert to its sightholders the DTC stated that, “The DiamondView and photo luminescence results indicate that the CVD synthetics have been heat-treated post synthesis, and we note that the combination of characteristics listed above is strikingly similar to that reported by the GIA [Wang & Moses 2011] for 16 CVD synthetics received from Gemesis Corporation.”

In a statement sent to National Jeweler on Monday afternoon, however, Gemesis President and CEO Stephen Lux denied that any of the undisclosed synthetics came from his company, which rolled out a consumer-facing website selling both white and colored diamonds earlier this year.

“There are several other companies that are practicing the CVD technology, with some scale as to have the capability for the few hundred diamonds that most unfortunately have been sold inappropriately,” Lux said. “Gemesis has been very consistent and clear in its commitment of full disclosure. That has not and will not change. Gemesis has the very same concerns the entire mined diamond industry has regarding the attempt by someone to inappropriately and fraudulently pass lab-created diamonds as mined.”

LoriÉ said an inquiry is now underway to determine at what point in the supply chain it was known that these synthetic stones were indeed not natural.

The World Federation of Diamond Bourses--which requires members to identify synthetics and can suspend, expel or fine members found to be in violation of these rules--the Federation of Belgian Diamond Bourses and the Antwerp World Diamond Centre could not be reached for comment Monday on the status of any investigation into involved parties.