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What’s in a Terminology?
By: Diamond World News Service
May 3 2019 2:36PM
Reference: 18183  

The mined diamond industry is currently torn about GIA’s decision of revising its lab-grown diamond reports. While a segment feels that this would actually help in building consumer confidence, some others believe that this move could possibly kill the industry, especially in India. Can merely dropping the word ‘synthetic’ change the perception people have of lab-grown diamonds? Vijetha Rangabashyam finds out.

Last July, the ‘natural’ diamond industry was infuriated. It is quite ironic that we have to use the word ‘natural’ every time we speak of the mined-diamond industry when it is in fact the only diamonds we have known and cared about for centuries. But that is not the case anymore. Lab-grown diamonds are here to stay and they seemingly make for a good business prospect – this is part of how technology has been disrupting the more traditional way of running things in not just jewellery but every other business. The industry has acknowledged this, mostly. But it is posed with a bigger problem with agencies like the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)changing its jewellery guidelines to protect the interests of the consumers. To what extent and how far do the changed guidelines help the consumer make an informed decision about the kind of diamond he or she wants to buy is an issue we will deal with a little later in the story.

Eight months after FTC’s sweeping changes in the terminology regarding diamonds and its lab-grown counterpart, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) too has changed its lab-grown diamond reports by dropping the word ‘synthetic’. The industry can’t say that it didn’t see this coming. GIA had to change its report to align itself with FTC’s guides; it was just a matter of time. The miners and natural diamond manufacturers are divided on the issue as always– while some are ostensibly welcoming the change with arms wide open, some believe that this is an abject blow for the industry, sort of a death warrant.

What’s the change anyway?

In 2007, GIA first introduced the Synthetic Diamond Grading Report. Twelve years later, GIA has opted for dropping the word synthetic and calling it the Laboratory-Grown Diamond Report. Effective July 1st 2019, the report will still include the standard GIA colour, clarity and cut grading scales for reference purposes. However, it will use descriptive ranges instead of a detailed scale that it uses for natural diamonds. It will continue to use Colourless, Near Colorless, Faint, Very Light and Light to report the colour grades for laboratory-grown diamonds, rather than the letters used to report the colour grades for natural diamonds. For example: D,E and F lab-grown diamonds will be graded colourless, G,H and I will be near colourless and K,L and M will be Faint.

The clarity of lab-grown diamonds will be graded as Flawless, Internally Flawless, Very Very Slightly Included, Very Slightly Included, Slightly Included and Included as opposed to VVS1 and VVS2; VS1 and VS2; SI1 and SI2; and I1, I2 and I3 used to report the clarity grades for natural diamonds. For example: SI1 and SI2 lab-grown diamonds will be graded as Slightly Included.

The GIA in its lab-grown diamonds report will also mention whether it is a diamond produced by CVD (Chemical Vapour Deposition) or HPHT (High Pressure High Temperature) treatment and the fact that it may include post-growth treatments to change the colour.

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