Hong Kong Busts $64M Diamond Scam

Hong Kong authorities have arrested four people suspected of running a money-laundering syndicate that falsely declared synthetic diamonds as natural.

The operation, which authorities codenamed “Gem Crusher,” was the first money-laundering case using transnational diamond trading the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department has detected, the government organization said Thursday.

On December 19 and 20, customs raided eight premises across multiple areas in Hong Kong, including residential and business locations. So far, authorities have frozen HKD 8.2 million ($1.1 million) in assets belonging to those in custody.

Hong Kong customs officials were alerted to the scheme earlier this year and launched a financial investigation, exchanging information with authorities in India, the department explained.

Members of the crime syndicate had established diamond-trading companies in both Hong Kong and India. Throughout 2021, the syndicate exported low-value lab-grown diamonds from Hong Kong to India with fictitious declarations presenting them as high-value naturals.

The purpose was to “transfer significant amounts of suspicious funds from India to Hong Kong,” authorities alleged. The suspects laundered around HKD 500 million ($64 million), the department claimed.

During the raid, customs seized a “large quantity of suspected synthetic diamonds, a small quantity of natural diamonds, about HKD 1 million [$128,055] in cash, a number of mobile phones, computers, company [seals], checkbooks, bank cards, bank documents and trading documents” from the four suspects, authorities said.

The four men — believed to be the “masterminds, ring leaders and members” of the syndicate — were arrested on suspicion of “dealing with property known or reasonably believed to represent proceeds of an indictable offense.”

The investigation is ongoing, and further arrests cannot be ruled out, customs noted.

Souce: Diamonds.net

Botswana sees Russian diamond ban opening door to synthetic gems

Mirny, Sakha Republic, Russian Rough Dimaonds

Botswana, Africa’s top diamond producer, sees a prolonged ban on Russian diamonds opening the way for synthetic gems to expand market share, the country’s minister told a mining conference on Monday.

The United States, the world’s largest market for natural diamonds, imposed sanctions on Russia’s state-controlled Alrosa in April, aiming to cut off a source of revenue for Moscow after its February invasion of Ukraine.

Alrosa, the world’s largest producer of rough diamonds, accounted for about 30% of global output in 2021.

Botswana’s Minister of Minerals and Energy Lefoko Moagi said the ban on Russia diamonds might push prices up to the benefit of rival producers but he also said the gap would be hard to fill.

“We see the 30% gap that will be left by the ban being plugged by something else that is not natural. And for us that will be a challenge,” he said.

Jacob Thamage, head of Botswana’s Diamond Hub, said uncertainty over the Ukraine conflict makes it difficult for Botswana and other natural diamond miners to fill the supply gap as ramping up operations requires significant investment.

“You don’t want to invest a lot of money to up-scale and then the war ends the next day,” Thamage said. “We also see the higher prices pushing consumers to substitutes such as the synthetics and this can cause problems for us if we cede the market to unnatural stones.”

Sales at Debswana, a joint venture between Anglo American unit De Beers and Botswana’s government, accounts for almost all of Botswana diamonds exports. These stood at $3.466 billion in 2021 compared with $2.120 billion in 2020.

Thamage also fears that consumers might start to shun natural diamonds due to traceability issues.

“There is an increased fear that buyers of diamonds will begin to treat all natural diamonds as conflict diamonds and therefore shift to unnatural diamonds,” he said.

Source: mining.com

Largest ever CVD laboratory-grown diamond hailed a “remarkable achievement”


The International Gemological Institute’s (IGI) Hong Kong laboratory has certified the largest chemical vapor deposition (CVD) laboratory-grown diamond received to date.

With a finished weight of 12.75 carats, this collection-quality man-made gemstone was fashioned from a 46.20 carat CVD-grown rough crystal.

According to its creator, Shanghai Zhengshi Technology, it is the largest CVD lab-grown diamond ever produced.

“For the past 15 years, IGI has been at the forefront of lab-grown certification and education,” stated IGI CEO, Roland Lorie. “With this milestone, the Institute continues to establish itself as the prominent leader in the industry and opens the door for future opportunities to exceed current gemological standards.”

IGI gemologists confirmed the 12.75ct stone was Type IIa, giving it exceptional chemical purity and transparency, with VVS2 clarity, F color, and triple-excellent marks in cut-quality and finish.

Following detailed scientific analysis, the laboratory substantiated that the stone had not undergone any post-growth treatments, so it can be categorised as a pure CVD diamond.

“A laboratory-grown diamond of this carat weight, with such a high clarity and color grade, is a remarkable achievement in CVD cultivated diamond technology,” said IGI Hong Kong managing director, Bob Van Es. “As the industry leader in the certification of laboratory-grown diamonds, IGI will continue to follow these new developments closely.”

This news comes only three months after the IGI analysed the Guinness World Record-holding biggest black lab-grown diamond.

Source: professionaljeweller

Blue Nile to Sell Lightbox Lab-Grown Diamonds

Blue Nile Lightbox

Blue Nile has launched an exclusive line of Lightbox lab-grown diamond jewelry, its first foray into synthetics in its 21-year history.

De Beers-owned Lightbox seemed like the obvious choice for a partner, given the alignment of the two companies’ perspectives, Blue Nile CEO Sean Kell told Rapaport News Thursday.

“We’ve been watching the lab-grown diamond market for some time. We think both natural diamonds and lab-grown diamonds have a place in the market,” he noted. “When we first discussed stepping into the lab-grown space, Lightbox was the only brand partner that came to mind.”

The online jeweler’s partnership with the lab-grown brand is an effort to offer a greater range of products to its customers.

“The launch of the Blue Nile Lightbox collection…now adds even more variety, quality and value for our customers as we head into the new year,” Kell said. “[This] will further expand and transform [our] product assortment to meet the needs of evolving consumers in the jewelry space.”

The collection will feature new and exclusive styles of jewelry, including earring, pendants, bracelets and rings, set with white, blue or pink lab-grown diamonds in 14-karat white or yellow gold. The pieces, which range from $600 to $1,750, will be available both online and in Blue Nile’s newly launched and soon-to-open showrooms, Kell noted.

While Blue Nile’s Lightbox collection will feature fashion jewelry, it will not include engagement rings, for now.

“At this time we do not [plan to carry them],” Kell added. “We think of lab-grown diamonds versus natural diamonds as two separate categories. Our belief is consumers will continue to select natural diamonds for engagement and significant milestones, whereas lab-grown diamonds…will give shoppers an opportunity to expand their jewelry box with…jewelry they can wear every day.”

Lightbox opens its doors

The launch coincides with the debut of Lightbox’s new 60,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Gresham, Oregon. The synthetics maker began production at the facility during the summer, as construction was being completed, and plans to ramp up output at the $94 million plant to reach 200,000 carats annually.

“Manufacturing lab-grown diamonds in the US was a goal from the beginning,” said Lightbox CEO Steve Coe. “With this facility and our…partnership with Blue Nile, we have an incredible opportunity to grow our business, improve consumer education and further establish Lightbox as the leading lab-grown diamond jewelry brand.”

Lightbox first dipped its toe in the retail space through partnerships with Bloomingdale’s and Reeds Jewelers. Earlier this month, the company announced an expansion to 10 independent retail jewelers in the US and Canada, a move it believes will enable it to gain insight into different audience segments, and learn how they shop and which products appeal to them most.

While the De Beers brand is currently focused on retail partnerships, Coe told Rapaport News he wouldn’t rule out the possibility of “one or two” self-operated stores “at some point.”

The company is also looking to expand its product offering, including creating larger sizes for its lab-grown diamonds, which currently weigh up to 1 carat.

“The biggest priority for us in 2021 is exploring the opportunity to go to larger sizes,” Coe noted. “That is something we are working on — going up to 2 carats.”

Meanwhile, the lab-grown brand is also looking to extend its color range beyond white, blue and pink.

“Our scientists are already looking at other color options, and in the lab at least, we’ve made yellows, greens, violets and other shades,” Coe added. “But that’s more likely in the 2022, 2023 timeframe, probably.”

Source: Diamonds.net

GIA Unveils New Lab-Grown Reports

The new GIA lab-grown diamond reports. (GIA)

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has launched its new grading reports for lab-grown diamonds, offering an updated look and format.

The new documents, branded “LGDR by GIA,” come in digital-only form and use specific color and clarity scores rather than the descriptive terms and ranges that appeared in its previous reports, the organization said Tuesday.

“The evolution of GIA’s reports for laboratory-grown diamonds is fully aligned with our mission to protect all consumers,” said Susan Jacques, GIA president and CEO. “Everyone who purchases gemstone jewelry — whether natural or laboratory-grown — expects and deserves the information, confidence and protection that come with a GIA report.”

The offering includes two different Laboratory-Grown Diamond Reports for colorless synthetic diamonds — a standard report and a dossier — and two for colored diamonds: one with plot diagrams and one without.

Notably, the GIA avoids calling the documents “grading reports” — a term it reserves for natural diamonds. Earlier this week, the World Jewellery Confederation (CIBJO) recommended that laboratories use that term only for natural stones and instead call synthetics reports “Laboratory-Grown Diamond Product Specifications,” arguing that the concept of grading implies rarity.

“The color and clarity specifications for laboratory-grown diamonds are described on the same scale as GIA grading reports for natural diamonds, but that does not correlate to nature’s continuum of rarity,” the GIA noted.

The reports state that a stone was created by chemical vapor deposition (CVD) or High Pressure-High Temperature (HPHT) and that it may include post-growth treatments to change the color. Each report also comes with a QR code linking to a custom page on GIA’s website with information about lab-grown diamonds.

Each stone will also receive a laser inscription with the report number and the words “laboratory-grown,” unless another acceptable term already appears on the girdle.

Source: Diamonds.net

‘Grading’ Is Just for Natural Diamonds, Says CIBJO

Polished diamonds

Laboratories should reserve the term “grading report” for natural diamonds rather than lab-grown stones, the World Jewellery Confederation (CIBJO) has urged.

Lab-grown diamonds lack the rarity that underpins the concept of grading, CIBJO argued Tuesday. Instead, documents providing details of synthetics should be called “Laboratory-Grown Diamond Product Specifications,” the organization says in a new set of guidelines it released to the trade this week.

The standard grading report implies “a degree of rarity of the product,” a CIBJO spokesperson told Rapaport News. “But on the other hand, the consumer has a right to know what the components of the product are. The important element is that the term ‘grading’ is taken out.”

CIBJO’s board has made its new Laboratory-Grown Diamond Guidance available for review by affiliated companies and national associations, the organization said. The consultation phase is the final stage in a two-year process to create harmonized standards for man-made stones.

The rule book, which is not binding, also calls for laboratories to include extra information such as the name of the manufacturer, the country and method of manufacture (chemical vapor deposition or High Pressure-High Temperature), and information about post-growth treatments. It also recommends that the letters “LG” precede the color and clarity grades on the report to indicate the stones are lab-grown.

The guidelines deal with how to describe lab-grown diamonds and display them at events such as trade shows. They also provide recommendations on how companies should disclose the origin of the stones on invoices and consignment documents, and discuss synthetics detection technology.

“A key principle of the Laboratory-Grown Diamond Guidance is that, to ensure confidence, consumers must receive complete and unambiguous information about what they are buying, so that they can make consciously informed purchasing decisions,” CIBJO explained.

CIBJO’s Blue Book, a separate document on grading standards and terminology, notably kept “natural” in its definition of diamonds even after the US Federal Trade Commission dropped the word in 2018.

Source: diamonds.net

IGI Grades Record Black Lab-Grown Diamond

The two black lab-grown diamonds.

The International Gemological Institute (IGI) recently graded a 116-carat, black synthetic diamond that ranks as the largest lab-grown diamond of its color.

The 115.65-carat, type IIb stone was produced by UK-based Meylor Global using High Pressure-High Temperature (HPHT), and was accompanied by a second black lab-grown diamond weighing 109.58 carats, IGI said Wednesday.

“The innovative approach in physical chemistry of diamond growth, combined with sophisticated technological methods and advanced high-pressure equipment, allowed us to obtain record-breaking extra-large diamond single crystals, having in mind the idea of getting the biggest possible diamond plate,” said Meylor CEO Yuliya Kusher.

Meylor grew the diamonds as part of its “World’s Largest Black Diamonds Project,” which it began at the beginning of the year. However, it intends to try for a larger one in the future. The larger stone holds the Guinness World Record for its category, IGI reported.

“The significant milestone of [over 100 carats] in diamond size was achieved by our company in a very short time, and the next even more promising target of [over 200 carats] is right now under deep scientific investigation,” Kusher added.

Source: diamond.net

GIA to Give Full Color, Clarity Grades for Lab-Grown

GIA grader

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is launching a new digital report for lab-grown diamonds that will feature specific color and clarity grades. The organization, which currently only offers loose descriptions and grade ranges for synthetics, will introduce the new reports early in the fourth quarter, it said Tuesday.

The service will incorporate the GIA’s two existing lab-grown reports. Its full reports — available for stones weighing 0.15 carats and larger — will include a 4Cs assessment and plotted diagrams showing clarity and proportions. Its lower-priced “dossiers,” which are available only for stones ranging from 0.15 to 1.99 carats, will just include the 4Cs assessment and the proportions diagram. The lab will also offer specific color and clarity grades for lab-grown colored diamonds.

The GIA began grading synthetic diamonds in 2007, and has since aligned the service more with what it offers for natural stones. Until last year, it only provided descriptions of color and clarity, such as “colorless” and “slightly included.” However, from July 1, 2019, it started indicating the range of traditional color and clarity scores to which those descriptions referred — such as “D to F” and “SI1 to SI2.”

The institute has now moved a stage further, arguing that enhanced transparency will benefit consumers and the trade.

“Natural- and laboratory-grown diamonds coexist today, accepted by both consumers and the trade,” said CEO Susan Jacques. “Ensuring consumers’ trust with GIA’s reliable, independent and authoritative grading reports for all diamonds benefits the public and the entire gem and jewelry industry. We believe the growth of laboratory-grown diamonds will expand the overall diamond market and bring in new customers.”

The reports will only be available in a digital format and will feature an updated design that distinguishes them from their natural-diamond counterparts. The California-headquartered organization will continue to laser-inscribe the stones with the words “laboratory-grown” alongside the GIA report number to further ensure differentiation from naturals. The documents will still carry a statement that the graded stone may have undergone post-growth treatment to alter its color, the GIA pointed out.

The GIA is keeping the same fee structure as for natural-diamond reports since the grading work is the same, it noted.

Source: Diamonds.net

“Botswana Should Not Produce or Sell Synthetic Diamonds”


According to the official, synthetics will “compromise” the value of Botswana’s natural diamonds

Lucara 123 carat diamond
Lucara Diamonds

Mmetla Masire, permanent secretary at Botswana’s Ministry of Minerals, said in a Parliamentary Accounts Committee quoted by Rough & Polished that Botswana cannot engage in production and sale of synthetic diamonds as this will compromise “the value of our diamonds”. Credit: Debswana

The Letlhakane diamond mine in Botswana
De Beers mining

Masire said that “Botswana will send a confusing message to its customers should it decide to produce and sale synthetic diamonds”. He added that the Debswana Diamond Company (the joint venture between the government of Botswana and diamond miner De Beers) is searching for other markets other than the US to sell its diamonds, including in China. Credit: De Beers

Masire “refused to provide an update on the ongoing negotiations between Gaborone and De Beers as disclosure of any information pertaining to the negotiations will potentially influence the outcome”. Botswana and De Beers’ huge 10-year diamond sale agreement is expected to expire by the end of 2020. Botswana accounts for more than two-thirds of De Beers’ diamond production.

Source: israelidiamond

De Beers Adds Grading Specs for Lightbox

De Beers Lightbox Grading

Lightbox has added grading information for its synthetic white diamonds in an effort by the De Beers brand to bring further transparency to the lab-grown sector.

The company will provide technical specifications showing the minimum quality of its stones across cut, color, clarity and carat weight, Lightbox said Monday. It will include these descriptions with each white lab-grown diamond it sells, but will not grade each stone individually. The specifications are based on internationally recognized grading standards, the De Beers-owned company noted.

“This new feature is just one more way Lightbox can instill consumer confidence,” the company added.

An infographic with the information is also available on Lightbox’s website. Those specifications list its synthetic white diamonds to be “near colorless” or better, which the company defines as between G to J, meaning only a trained gemologist can detect a trace of color. The stones all have a minimum clarity of VS, and a cut of “very good.” The stones are still priced at $800 per carat.

Lightbox, which De Beers launched in 2018, does not currently intend to offer grading information for its blue or pink lab-grown diamonds.

Source: Diamonds.net