By Michelle Graff
One of the man-made white sapphires recently found by GSI under natural light (left) and phosphorescing. GSI said blue phosphorescence in a lab-grown white sapphire is unusual and is what indicated to graders that the stones needed additional testing. (Photo credit: GSI)
New York—Gemological Science International recently found man-made sapphire melee set among natural diamonds in a piece of jewelry.

In a news release sent out in late May, GSI said it received multiple diamond fashion pendants for screening and in one of the pendants, graders found near-colorless lab-grown white sapphires ranging in size from .01-.10 points.

Lab co-founder and President Debbie Azar called the setting of these stones in a natural diamond pendant a “very atypical” use of melee-sized man-made white sapphire, noting that the lab has never seen them in this size set into a piece of jewelry. (Usually, when it detects a stone that is not diamond in a piece like this, it is a lab-grown diamond.)

GSI tests and screens loose stones, melee parcels and jewelry for lab-grown diamonds and simulants like cubic zirconia (CZ), and has found both in all three.
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But, Azar said, the undisclosed lab-grown diamonds are by far the bigger issue.

“We would say it is a very big problem that just won’t go away. What is more, lately we encounter new, much more sophisticatedly grown diamonds, which require more efforts and tools to identify.”

GSI is not the only lab to note the advancing capabilities of diamond growers.

In the spring issue of Gems & Gemology, researchers at the Gemological Institute of America wrote about finding a natural diamond topped with a layer of CVD-grown diamond, the second to come through the lab in two years.

“This could be a new type of product entering the market,” they wrote. “Earth-grown diamonds with synthetic diamond grown on the surface require extra scrutiny … Careful inspection still reveals the presence of synthetic indicators, which expose the true nature of the diamond.”

Azar said GSI is planning to release articles in the near future regarding some of the atypical cases it has seen.

“These new, as well as more typical undisclosed lab-grown diamonds, are found by our scientists in all our labs globally,” she said. “It’s not limited to one geographical location. It’s a global issue.”

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