New York--De Beers diamond brand Forevermark and the Gemological Institute of America soon might be diamond-grading neighbors in India.

At a presentation during the recent Las Vegas jewelry shows, London-based Forevermark CEO Stephen Lussier revealed that the brand, which currently grades diamonds at a single facility in Antwerp, was building a second Forevermark grading facility in Surat, a major diamond cutting and polishing center in India.

Also in Las Vegas, the Gemological Institute of America announced that its board of governors directed GIA management to examine opening a grading facility in Surat. This comes in addition to the Carlsbad, Calif.-based lab’s plans to hire more graders and expand facilities in Bangkok, Hong Kong and Mumbai in an attempt to keep up with sharply increasing demand.

The board said there are three reasons for the exceptionally high demand: many banks requesting grading reports to substantiate loans; concerns about undisclosed synthetics making effective screening more important, particularly for smaller goods; and an increase in consumer demand in developing markets for smaller stones with GIA grading reports.

The GIA admittedly has not been able to keep up with the rising demand for its grading services and gets 25 percent more stones than it can process every day. In early May, the lab announced it was replacing “turnaround time” on its reports with “return date.”

Turnaround time did not take holidays or weekends into account and didn’t state the exact date a stone would be ready for pickup or shipped.

Return date does both, and is meant to give clients a clearer picture of when to expect their stones back. The return dates also are classified by weight ranges, which expedites the grading of larger stones by giving them priority.

RELATED CONTENT: GIA now giving ‘return date’ for stones

Lussier’s statement came as part of a speech called “Nurturing the Diamond Dream,” given in a special presentation from De Beers executives at JCK Las Vegas. His speech was preceded by a presentation from De Beers Group CEO Philippe Mellier.

During his talk, Lussier also revealed the results of a recent poll De Beers did of 18,500 U.S. women between the ages of 18 and 75, noting that “America’s going to be the place that makes the world diamond market tick.”

Among the survey’s findings:
--Today’s brides are older and, therefore, more affluent.
--Spending on diamond engagement rings is up 40 percent since 2011 while carat content is up 60 percent, somewhat due to a decrease in quality. Today’s brides are willing to sacrifice color and clarity for a larger stone.
--Online sales accounted for 18 percent of diamond jewelry pieces purchased in 2013, up from 14 percent in 2011. However, a total of 34 percent of women went online to at least do research before purchasing.
--Couples today remain engaged for five times longer than they did in the 1980s. 

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