By Michelle Graff
Michelle-blogOn Thursday, I got the chance to speak with Ronnie Vanderlinden, secretary general of IDMA and president of the Diamond Manufacturers and Importers Association of America, about how exactly this new policy will work.

In a nutshell, the policy stipulates that the color grading of a diamond more than one grade from a “broadly accepted industry benchmark” is unacceptable; in other words, no one should have a diamond that’s widely agreed to be an H color come back as an F or higher.

The “benchmark” is the GIA’s master color sets, which all respectable grading laboratories worldwide have, and the rules and nomenclature outlined by the International Diamond Council, the organization established in 1975 by the WFDB and IDMA.

In the event there is a complaint or challenge about a diamond’s color grade, the policy states that the authorized body involved will submit the diamond to a “leading, respected lab,” such as the GIA, HRD Antwerp or AGS Laboratories, or to three separate recognized expert gemologists or diamantaires. The lab or experts then will determine if the diamond is indeed off more than one color grade.

The punishment meted out to those found to be in violation will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. As an example, though, an offending party could be ordered to compensate the person to whom they sold the over-graded diamond or to take back the stone. Those found to be in continual violation also could face suspension from their respective diamond bourse.

Vanderlinden said he doesn’t know of a policy exactly like this one that’s ever existed in the diamond industry.

Yes, there’ve always have been regulations regarding ethics in the industry, recourse for diamond dealers and manufacturers who bought something that turned out not to be what the seller claimed it was. But there hasn’t been anything nothing that pertained so specifically to color grading, until now.

Vanderlinden called it a “clear-cut statement” on the issue, and it’s a statement that is very timely.

Not only are retailers still reeling from the over-grading eruption in Nashville last year—I talked to one Tennessee jeweler recently who said the scandal hurt jewelers statewide—but there was Martin Rapaport pulling all EGL reports from his list and the new, mysterious temporary color treatment the GIA disclosed in mid-May. The treatment, which labs still are working to puzzle out, improves a diamond’s color as much as three grades but fades over time.

(The GIA said this week that it has nothing further to report about the color treatment at this time.)

While this new policy directly impacts players further up the pipeline, it should provide some comfort to retailers.

Fewer over-graded diamonds getting through the world’s diamond bourses and other industry associations means fewer of these stones will end up on the market or, worse, in their competitors’ hands.

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