De Beers Moves Auctions HQ to Botswana

De Beers is moving its auctions headquarters from Singapore to Botswana in a move designed to streamline its operations and cut costs.

The UK-based miner sells around 10 per cent of its rough, by value, via online auctions to almost 1,000 registered buyers. The other 90 per cent is sold to sightholders.

In a statement the company said De Beers Group Auctions would pause it operations and sales events in the coming months, while the transition takes place.

Last year De Beers postponed its Cycle 5 and 6 auctions amid dwindling demand from Indian manufacturers and in January it introduced a new online “sealed bid” tender called The Offer for some of its rough diamonds.

Al Cook, De Beers Group CEO, said the move would drive cost efficiencies and support the needs of customers.

Last December Anglo American, parent company of De Beers said the diamond miner would have to cut $100m from its annual overheads in the face of ongoing weak demand.

De Beers moved its Sights from the UK to Gaborone, Botswana, in 2013.

Source: IDEX

The 616 Diamond – Still Uncut and Unsold after 50 Years

It’s 50 years since the world’s largest octahedral diamond was recovered, and even today it remains uncut, unpolished and unsold.

The 616-carat Type 1 yellow diamond, dates back to 17 April 1974 and comes from the Dutoitspan Mine in Kimberley, South Africa, which opened in the 1870s and closed in 2005.

The miner who found the diamond, De Beers employee Abel Maretela, was rewarded with a large bonus and a house.  

Al Cook, De Beers Group CEO, was shown the diamond on a visit to Johannesburg, by Moses Madondo, CEO of De Beers Group managed operations.

“I’m a geologist so I love to learn about the history of diamonds even before they were found,” he said in a LinkedIn post.

“This is a Type 1 diamond which means that it was formed around 150 km below the earth’s surface, deep in the mantle, over 1 billion years ago.

“During the Cretaceous period, about 100 million years ago, a kimberlite volcano brought this diamond up to the earth’s surface. Its beautiful yellow colour comes from nitrogen atoms that were trapped inside the carbon lattice when it was forming in the mantle.”

Pics courtesy De Beers.

Source: IDEX

US Sanctions Zimbabwe President for Diamond Smuggling

The US has sanctioned Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa for corruption in connection with gold and diamond smuggling, as well as human-rights abuses.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) accused Mnangagwa of “providing a protective shield” to gold- and diamond-smuggling networks that operate in Zimbabwe, it said last week. He is also accused of directing Zimbabwean officials to “facilitate the sale of gold and diamonds in illicit markets” and taking “bribes in exchange for his services.”

The US has also restricted Mnangagwa for being a leader or official of entity, including any government entity, that has “engaged in, or whose members have engaged in, serious human-rights abuses,” OFAC explained.

“The Zimbabwe president is a foreign person who is a current or former government official, or a person acting for or on behalf of such an official, who is responsible for or complicit in, or has directly or indirectly engaged in, corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery,” OFAC stated.

OFAC issued the new sanctions after US President Joe Biden signed an executive order that terminated Zimbabwe’s national emergency and revoked sanctions on the entire country, so as not to target its citizens.

“The US remains deeply concerned about democratic backsliding, human-rights abuses, and government corruption in Zimbabwe,” said Wally Adeyemo, deputy secretary of the treasury. “The changes we are making today are intended to make clear what has always been true: Our sanctions are not intended to target the people of Zimbabwe. Today we are refocusing our sanctions on clear and specific targets.”

Source: Rapaport

Detecting Lab-Grown Diamonds That Deceive

As Guy Borenstein gears up for Stuller’s Bench Jeweler Workshop in March, there’s one hot topic that will be addressed for the fifth consecutive year: synthetic diamonds.

There’s no shortage of available equipment to detect lab-grown diamonds. According to the Natural Diamond Council (NDC), there are about 40 instruments on the market that aim to discover natural versus synthetic diamonds.

“Five years ago, I asked attendees how many were screening for lab-grown diamonds [LGDs] and one hand went up,” says the director of gemstone procurement for the Lafayette, Louisiana-based manufacturer. That number has grown as the years passed, but “the majority are still not checking,” he adds.

Considering the recent number of undisclosed synthetics sent to labs, retailers should be more vigilant. In the last two months, four labs — comprising one in Italy and three, including the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), with US outposts — have reported incidents of synthetic diamonds submitted for grading under the guise of being natural. The labs, with their multitude of testing instruments and scientific savvy, have the manpower and resources to uncover the truth, but what about retailers, small manufacturers, and dealers? Other than sending every diamond purchased either over the counter or from a jewelry maker to a lab, what can the rest of industry do to guard against unknowing purchases of synthetic diamonds? Screen, baby, screen.

Marc Altman of B&E Jewelers in Southampton, Pennsylvania., started selling synthetics only last year, but has encountered them in newly manufactured goods sold to him as natural and in the engagement rings of unknowing clients. In the case of the new jewelry, he suspects it was an honest error.

“It was one ring,” he says. “It was a big order, and my assumption was that they also made jewelry with LGDs.”

Thanks to his GIA ID100 screening tool, he was able to spot-check trays of new finished jewelry. In the case of individual client rings, he’ll use a polariscope and the ID100 to determine if a diamond is natural or synthetic. In the last three weeks, he’s taken in two rings for resizing that were set with lab-grown and not the natural diamonds that clients thought they had. These examples are why screening goods on intake is critical and reveals deficiencies in disclosure by others at the time of sale. These are lawsuits in the making.

“If I didn’t [screen], my reputation would be at risk,” he says.

Fraud or flub?

Recent high-profile lab incidents aside — like the 6-carat synthetic laser-inscribed as a natural the International Gemological Institute (IGI) examined, or the pink, yellow and brown lab-grown diamonds posing as natural that Gem Science Laboratory (GSI) received — not every facility sees the spike in undisclosed synthetics as deliberate by fraudsters.

As a percentage of all diamonds examined, the number submitted as natural that turn out to be lab-grown is miniscule, says IGI CEO Tehmasp Printer.

“Ten years ago, 95% of parcels were contaminated,” he continues. “Today that number is reduced to half a percent. Initially, some did try to push LGDs as naturals and then labs learned how to ID the material. Now, there are mistakes and errors, but most are not intentional. No manufacturers are polishing LGDs and naturals in the same space; it’s done separately. The problems occur when parcels are given out for memo, and then there is a little switch here and there by mistake.”

Other incidents aren’t as clear. A recent GSI discovery involved mounted brown diamonds with linear graining and polished surfaces “to try to pass it as natural,” maintains Debbie Azar, cofounder and president of GSI. “While initial gemological observations would suggest they were likely natural, our advanced testing processes revealed they were CVD [chemical vapor deposition lab-grown diamonds] almost immediately by looking at their optical defects.”

No matter the intention behind the incidents, GIA takes each one — and steps to avoid them — seriously. For example, nearly every synthetic diamond that comes in for a report is inscribed as such. It also recently unveiled a same-day service for report confirmation of GIA-graded diamonds with or without markings. The service is offered to combat fraudulent inscriptions and for now is free.

“We should all be doing everything possible to ensure consumer trust,” says Pritesh Patel, GIA senior vice president and chief operating officer. Patel is responsible for lab operations. “One is not more vulnerable than another in the trade; everybody should be vigilant,” he cautions.

IGI screening parcel. (IGI)

Identification struggles

One of the toughest tasks in effectively screening jewelry today is the large quantity of small stones. The labs can handle it, but it’s tedious.

“Our biggest challenge is testing items encrusted with micro-pavé — jewelry set with 0.005-carat and smaller diamonds,” says Angelo Palmieri, president of GCAL by Sarine. “The challenge predominantly revolves around exercising patience.”

Then there are the hidden halos of diamonds; only visible diamonds can be easily checked on finished jewelry, so the trade must remember to flip pieces on their sides for inspection.

“We see as many naturals in LGD-set jewelry as we see LGDs in natural diamond jewelry,” adds Palmieri. “We see this happen with everybody, from high-end brands to sightholders. We’re not seeing 50% wrong — we see cases where one is natural or LGD. It doesn’t look intentional; it looks like it’s hard to keep track of the melee.”

Azar, too, is familiar with this wearisome process.

“Pieces with smaller diamonds and melee can be extremely time-consuming and the work is intricate,” she says. “We screen thousands of diamonds each day and we are detecting undisclosed laboratory-grown diamonds every day. They are usually in mounted goods where the mounting obscures full observation of the diamond.”

The solution? Enhanced quality controls such as constant and repeated testing when diamonds are loose and once they’re set. “Most companies don’t want to put in the hard work (and patience) that comes with thorough and complete testing,” observes Palmieri.

IGI screening lab. (IGI)

Tools and techniques

Like Altman, other retailers can use a microscope, polariscope and GIA’s ID100 in store — they’re compact and not too cost prohibitive.

Labs have myriad methods, including custom machines and proprietary research, to uncover the truth. There are also common methods used by all labs, like “Raman and photoluminescence spectroscopy” and “basic gemological testing,” among others, notes Palmieri.

GIA even has a facility in New Jersey devoted solely to the study of lab-grown diamonds to stay ahead of their developments. “GIA spends a tremendous amount on research,” notes Patel.

GIA Gem Instruments Polariscope. (GIA)

Lab consensus is that one instrument isn’t enough. Multiple tools and experienced operators are necessary to reveal undisclosed synthetics.

“Each instrument has its own advantages and limitations,” says Palmieri. “No one machine can give you all the answers.”

Azar urges the trade to adopt a deductive process for distinguishing between naturals and synthetics. For example, does it have garnet crystals? Then it is “definitively natural,” she says. But if a diamond has no inclusions or is type IIa, send it to a lab for testing. For mounted goods, “all bets are off because of the complexities,” she adds.

Dror Yehuda, president of Yehuda Diamond Company — formerly a maker of clarity-enhanced diamonds — shifted to manufacturing diamond detectors around 2015. That’s the year, he maintains, that lab-grown diamonds came to market with gusto. “The vast majority of my customers stopped carrying my Yehuda diamonds and moved to LGDs,” he reveals.

As a result, Yehuda built the first Sherlock Holmes detector, which is in its fourth generation. Three models now exist to accommodate a variety of needs and budgets.

To date, he has sold over 15,000 detectors worldwide.

“The second generation was tested by project Assure and was the only detector other than [De Beers’] SynthDetect that detected 100% of the LGDs,” says Yehuda.

The Assure Directory from the NDC is a resource for anyone trying to determine what instruments to purchase. Assure provides results of independent testing of a “wide range of diamond-verification instruments,” according to Samantha Sibley, technical educator at De Beers Group Ignite in the UK, which spearheads De Beers’ corporate approach to innovation.

Assure tests instruments for “diamond accuracy, referral rates, speed, and natural false positive rates [i.e., does the instrument pass any synthetic diamonds as natural?],” she continues. “The latter is the most crucial measure, and all De Beers verification instruments have a 0% false positive rate from both Assure 1.0 [2019] and Assure 2.0 [2022].”

Big Sherlock. (Yehuda Diamond Company)

Model behavior

Manufacturing house Stuller takes extreme precautions to safeguard against undisclosed synthetics. The firm has 62 pieces of screening equipment and 40 associates to run them. It even has an in-house GIA lab for melee analysis (Stuller staffers aren’t even allowed inside).

Starting at a quarter of a point, Stuller tests every diamond individually, screening more than 5 million units a year. Each stone is tested by at least two different technologies so one “can compensate for the weakness of another,” adds Borenstein. “In a year, 50,000 units out of 5 million go to the lab for further tests.”

The onus is on Stuller to test because of Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations.

“Every player throughout the supply chain should test,” he urges. “We are still catching undisclosed stones on a daily basis, so just imagine how many of those are filtering into the market in an area with no screening at all.”

GIA iD100 instrument. (GIA)

Jay Seiler of Jay Seiler Jewelers in Duluth, Minnesota, is a risk taker. He has a Presidium tester to weed out cubic zirconia and moissanite when he buys gold, but no other equipment in-house to test diamonds. Why? He’s a private jeweler now after years of operating a big store. His clients are largely older, known to him, bought diamonds before the advent of lab-grown, and 90% of his work is custom. Still, what about the new diamonds he buys? Therein lies the risk.

By the time someone faces an undisclosed synthetic, however, it’s likely too late. “You won’t be able to defend yourself in court,” says Borenstein.

“Disclosure is not as explicit as it should be, and that will be a huge challenge for retailers in a few years,” says Palmieri.

Source: Rapaport

DCLA is the only laboratory in Australia that has tested every diamond submitted from inception.

US Polished Imports Fall in October

US polished-diamond imports dropped 21% to $1.5 billion in October, recording a fifth consecutive year-on-year decline, according to recent data from the US Commerce Department. The decrease reflected a fall in the volume of imports as well as a lower average price. Polished imports have not seen a year-on-year rise since May, when the timing of the JCK Las Vegas show prompted an 18% increase.

Source: US Commerce Department data; Rapaport archives.

About the data: The US, the world’s largest diamond retail market, is a net importer of polished. As such, net polished imports — representing polished imports minus polished exports — will usually be a positive number. Net rough imports — calculated as rough imports minus rough exports — will also generally be in surplus. The nation has no operational diamond mines but has a manufacturing sector, so it normally ships more rough in than out. The net diamond account is total rough and polished imports minus total exports. It is the US’s diamond trade balance, and shows the added value the nation creates by importing — and ultimately consuming — diamonds.

Source: Diamonds.net

Orange Diamond

The ultimate colour for the collector, Orange is extremely rare in diamond. To be certified fancy orange colour, there cannot be any brown in the stone.

Polish Lines

Lines left on the surface of the diamond which are visible under magnification, normally removed during the final diamond polishing process. Polish lines can affect the polish grade of the diamond.

Seal

Plastic covering that provides a safeguard against loose diamonds being lost or damaged. Laboratory sealing has a number of security features including electrostatic security bars, pressure-sensitive transparent adhesive and cryptoprint text which only becomes visible after opening the seal.

Diameter

Diameter is a reference measurement against which most of the proportions on a diamond are calculated. On a round brilliant cut diamond, this is the length in millimeters of a straight line going through the center of a diamond. Click here to learn which standard diameter measurements correspond to specific well-proportioned carat weights. On a fancy shaped diamond, this is the average measurement in millimeters of the length and width.