Recently, I have a colleague who got engaged and she showed all of us her nice big diamond ring. Well… I did not ask her if it is a natural or lab-grown diamond, that would appear rude. However, I just can’t help wondering.
After all, natural and lab-grown/synthetic diamonds look the same. And there is no way of knowing how many undisclosed lab-grown diamonds are circulating.
However, even if they look the same (and the composition of synthetic diamond is actually no different from that of a real mined-diamond), lab-grown/synthetic diamonds cost less and has no resale value.
- Synthetics: cheaper but more expensive (read here)
- Analysis: The State of the Diamond Industry (read here)
In the war between natural and lab-grown/synthetic diamonds, there will always be winners and losers. Customers gain from a wider choice (with a wider price range), while traditional jewelers who do not educate (or equip) themselves in differentiating the synthetic diamonds from natural diamonds and the uninformed customers will stand to lose.
Authentication/Grading centers have now become essential. A sunrise industry some might say (that seems to rise in sync with that of the lab-grown diamond industry).
Unlike the rubies, emeralds, and sapphires market, whereby the synthetic market for these gems matured years ago and is now larger than the natural equivalent, in the case of diamonds, gem-quality synthetics currently represent only about 1-2% of the global diamond jewelry market. (read here)
Indeed the synthetic/lab grown diamond is only in its infancy.
GIA, based in the United States, is considered to be the industry standard and is the most widely used and trusted name in the diamond trade.
Again reputation is important. A lot of retailers are already issuing IGI certs (due to cost) even though IGI is widely known to be a second-tier lab. A GIA certified diamond is often recommended as compared to an IGI certified diamond.
GIA actually developed the “4 C’s” diamond grading system (used almost universally today) to provide truly objective standards in the evaluation of a diamond.
- GIA, AGS, EGL and other diamond grading certificates (read here)
- IGI Certification: The Main Reasons We Don’t Recommend It (read here)
“Undisclosed lab-grown diamonds are a major threat to our industry. Grading laboratories are essential to ensure the natural pipeline is free of undisclosed lab-grown diamonds and consumers worldwide can be confident of their purchases”, concluded Ms. Azar. (read here)
A quick search on the internet revealed that it is indeed difficult to differentiate lab made CVD diamonds from real natural diamonds. However, CVD synthetic diamonds currently on the market can be unambiguously identified only by the combination of two advanced test methods; UV-fluorescence microscopy and photoluminescence spectroscopy. (read here).
The recent news by Sarine Technology about the Opening of Sarine Technology (Gemmological) Laboratory which will initially offer its services in Ramat Gan, Israel, commencing in February 2018 is significant in relation to the rising trend of synthetic diamonds (read here).
The services offered will include authentication of the polished diamond (as per diamond or simulant, natural or synthetic, treated or not) and the grading of its 4Cs, all using the latest state-of-the-art technology.
- GIA Verifies Sarine’s DiaMensionTM Axiom Platform And Adopts InstructorTM As Standard Software (read here)
- GIA adopts Sarine Instructor as standard software (read here)
It was only recently in 2015 that GIA adopted Sarine Instructor as standard software. The ‘jump’ from a mere supplier of software and equipment to having their own Gemmological Laboratory is rather quick (though natural) progression. In fact, I think it is a path in the right direction.
The company says it will utilize its, “breakthrough artificial-intelligence based technological solutions for the automated, accurate, consistent, digital, and objective grading of a polished diamond’s Clarity and Colour.”
There are very significant differences as to how Sarine Tech grade diamonds vs how GIA grade diamonds.
- Sarine and GGTL Laboratories Cooperate to Take Gemmological Grading Technology to the Next Level (read here)
- GGTL LABORATORIES (read here)
- How GIA grades diamonds (read here)
Sarine Technology could hold the upper hand in diamond certification since their turnaround time for grading a diamond could be much shorter than traditional gem labs employing human gemologists (1 month or more, especially for smaller stones). In addition, by using technologies, the consistency and reliance will be there, as compared to a trained human eye.
Perhaps Sarine Technology is the diamond in the rough.