Technological advancements in the diamond trade have rendered grading reports more accurate and comprehensive than ever before. Each new achievement in diamond identification is a welcome milestone for both collectors and vendors. Consumer confidence swells when the diamond being graded has verifiable particulars about its quality and uniqueness. Now we can add traceability of origin to the growing list of traits identified on a diamond report. While it’s not completely new – the technology has been around for a few years – it’s becoming more sought out by collectors. Retailers are using this vital info to engage their customers on the unique stone they’re viewing.
The Need to Know
But why is diamond origin needed or seen as valuable in the first place? According to a published report from GIA (Gemological Institute of America) Why is Knowing a Diamond’s Origin Important?, “Traceability is the first step in sustainability and understanding that a diamond was mined responsibly.” There are myriad side benefits with verifying a diamond’s origin, GIA points out. “When you buy a diamond of known origin, you can understand the impact your purchase has on the development of that country’s local communities.” This helps local residents to thrive in their homeland, and aids in building infrastructures, educational systems, and health care for that population.
GIA’s Source Verify
GIA will launch a service (currently in development), called GIA Source Verify. This service will establish a stone’s origin data using third-party-verified documents, like Kimberley Process (KP) certificates and invoices which diamond manufacturers and others provide along the supply chain. When Source Verify is deployed, consumers may access this information through GIA’s online Report Check service. “The Source Verify service is an extension of our important consumer-protection mission,” said GIA CEO Susan Jacques. “Now more than ever, GIA is uniquely positioned to protect consumers by giving them the vital diamond-source information they demand, and the confidence they deserve when making purchase decisions.” GIA
Sarine Diamond Journey
From Sarine Technologies Ltd., Sarine Diamond Journey™ traceability program offers stones with a registered geographical origin. According to Sarine Diamond Journey, “Traceability begins with a 3D scanning procedure, done by the miner, to create a verifiable image of the physical diamond and a definitive link to its digital report.” These diamonds are then registered utilizing the Sarine Diamond Journey™ ecosystem.
Sarine’s 3D-Origin innovative sales tool, introduced in 2019, added another layer to their Diamond Journey technology. Their 3D-Origin model generated an optional add-on in the form of a 3D printed physical replica of the original rough crystal. Mr. David Block, CEO of Sarine Technologies, said, “The diamond and jewelry industry is just discovering the amazing opportunities technology creates for the modern retail environment. Not just as a means of luring customers, but also to engage customers’ hearts and minds through digital storytelling of the uniquely complex process of polishing a diamond.”
GCAL Source Veritas
New York based GCAL (Gemological Certification & Assurance Lab) offers a wide range of expert services to the diamond and gemstone trade. They were an early adopter of diamond traceability with Gemprint Source Veritas® introduced in 2006. According to GCAL president Angelo Palmieri, “Before the war in Ukraine started, I think people would have liked to know where their diamond came from but did not make purchasing decisions based on that single fact.”
The Source Veritas utilizes a clear liquid solution applied to rough, doped with an additive that reacts under ultraviolet light, exhibiting a distinctive color reaction. The solution contains a unique, designated DNA strain plus covert additives for further complexity, and complicity of identification by batch, by mine, by country, etc. These liquids can be inexpensively produced and applied to any stones or precious metals with no change to their outer appearance once it dries. The application can occur in the field or in the cleaning and sorting operation.
With several diamond traceability methods being used throughout the trade, each varies in how they produce the data for their reports. “They are assuming the origin is true, and while they require rough to be submitted in sealed parcels with appropriate paperwork, it is not a guarantee. There’s higher likelihood it came from that source, but not guaranteed,” Palmieri points out.
Diamond Origin Interest
Long before the Ukraine conflict created a line in the sand for our ethics in acquiring diamonds, Russian mining company Alrosa and market research company GfK conducted a survey in the US and China among 4,000 people. One of the survey questions was, “Are you interested in your diamond’s origin?” according to an article published in JCK Online September 23, 2019. “Turns out that 71% of respondents in China and 63% of respondents in the U.S. are interested in diamond origin,” the report revealed.
The war in Ukraine created a watershed moment for diamond traceability, Palmieri believes. “Now, with the war in Ukraine, I think the sentiment in the industry is that origin is more important than ever, and the vast majority of consumers around the world would like to know they are not buying Russian origin diamonds, because it is illegal in most western countries,” he affirms.
“The more we talk about it, and the more programs are created with origin as an underpinning differentiator, the more consumers are going ask about it and want it. Nobody asks for something that doesn’t exist,” Palmieri points out. “The industry creates a new feature or product, and then must stir up demand for that feature or product. The war in Ukraine has become a catalyst for everyone to go into high gear on origin traceability. We think it’s a great thing – the more information for the consumer, the better. But, it has to be meaningful, accurate, and truthful information.”