By Michelle Graff

A few weeks after news surfaced that hundreds of synthetic diamonds were submitted to the International Gemological Institute (IGI) in Antwerp without proper disclosure, a press release began circulating about a $199 lab-grown diamond detection device.

062512_Graff,-Michelle-new-blog-shotThe DiamaPen, a laser pointer-type device offered by Diamond Services Ltd., the sales arm of EGL Asia, debuted at the Hong Kong jewelry show held in June.

According to this very thorough report on the pen, it can definitively identify lab-grown yellow diamonds but for colorless diamonds only indicates that they may need more testing. Even the owner of EGL Asia said that the pen isn’t meant to be a replacement for sending stones to a grading laboratory.

So, what is the pen’s purported purpose in the industry? Is it something in which jewelers should invest? It seems that an answer may be forthcoming in the next couple of weeks.

Jerry Ehrenwald, president and CEO of IGI North and South America, said his New York laboratory received a DiamaPen last week and they are currently in the process of testing it. He expects the testing to take a few weeks.

At a meeting of the Diamond Manufacturers and Importers Association (DMIA) held in June, the Gemological Institute of America’s Tom Moses said the development of a so-called black box for synthetic diamonds, a single instrument that can instantly tell a natural, mined diamond from a lab-grown one, seems unlikely.

Right now, a number of devices are employed to discern natural diamonds from their synthetic counterparts, two of which were developed by De Beers.

The DiamondSure checks for spectroscopic characteristics of a type Ia diamond. More than 95 percent of diamonds found in nature are type Ia but this type is very difficult to grow in a lab, so the DiamondSure gives gemologists a solid indication of whether they need to send the diamond on for further testing or not. De Beers’ DiamondView machine is used to spot, among other characteristics, the telltale growth striations exhibited by lab-grown stones.

When asked specifically about the pen, Moses said he was a “little skeptical” of the claims made about it but noted that the lab would know more about the device’s capabilities shortly.

The GIA has ordered a pen for testing, though as of Friday it had not yet arrived at the New York lab.

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