The introduction of synthetic or laboratory-grown diamonds into the market mix has raised a variety of challenges for the traditional gem and jewelry industry, and none more important than reliably differentiating between stones that were formed over millions of years in nature and those produced over a period of just a few hours in a factory.
Technology is a considered a key participant in the venture, and over the past five years a variety of systems have come onto the market, claiming to be able to be able to distinguish naturals from synthetics with near perfect accuracy. But are they as foolproof as they claim.
To provide answers, the Diamond Producers Association, and organization whose members are made up the world’s seven rough diamond producers, teamed with Signet Jewelers, the world’s largest jewelry chain, to establish the Assure Program, the goal of which is to test and evaluate synthetic diamond detection devices on the market. It has just published the results from independent performance tests of diamond verification instruments in the Assure Directory, which can be found online at on diamondproducers.com/ASSURE.
The Assure Directory provides objective and third-party-verified information on the relative performance of various diamond verification devices, as well as guidance on how to ensure that their business is protected from undisclosed laboratory-grown diamonds.
18 INSTRUMENTS FROM 11 MANUFACTURERS TESTED
In creating the directory, the program partnered with the 11 manufacturers representing the 18 most widely available diamond verification instruments in the market.
The instruments submitted were tested in accordance with the methods and protocols in the Diamond Verification Instruments Standard, which was developed in collaboration with the independent third-party test agency UL and a technical committee consisting of leading scientists and academics from major gemological organizations, including GIA, GII, IIDGR, NGTC, SSEF, TISNCM and WTOCD.
All of the diamond verification Instruments submitted were tested with a deliberately challenging sample, which included including natural diamonds, laboratory grown diamonds and, if applicable, diamond simulants.
The AMS2, AN automated melee screening machine, developed by the International Institute of Diamond Grading & Research (IIDGR), a De Beers subsidiary. It will check for synthetics and simulants among stones as small as 0.003 carats, and can check up to 3,600 stones per hour.
The M-Screen 4.0 by HRD Antwerp, a sophisticated, high-tech synthetics screening device developed especially for large amounts of melee diamonds, which automatically feeds, screens and sorts round brilliant diamonds speeds of three diamonds per second, or up to 15,000 per hour.
The first round of testing took place at UL’s laboratories in Canton, MA.
INDUSTRY’S SHARE RESPONSIBILITY TO JEWELRY CONSUMERS
The project is planned as ongoing venture, with the Assure directory being regularly updated as new instruments are submitted for testing or re-testing. Furthermore, the set of stones included in the sample will evolve continuously to include new synthetics diamonds as they are identified.
“Trade participants have a shared responsibility to disclose the nature of the product they are selling to protect the end consumer,” said Jean-Marc Lieberherr, CEO of the Diamond Producers Association” Through the Assure Program we will support the diamond trade, from independent jewelry retailers to large diamond manufacturers, to make informed decisions on how to ensure that undisclosed laboratory grown diamonds do not enter their natural diamond supply chain.”
“The Diamond Verification Instrument Standard is a vital initiative to provide the diamonds and jewelry trade with independent guidance about the capabilities of diamond verification instruments available in the marketplace,” added David Bouffard, vice president of Corporate Affairs at Signet. “The Assure Program has already proven valuable for companies in our supply chain who operate at a global scale.”