All Diamonds Are Created Equal

Abstract: All diamonds are created equal, but some are more equal. What makes them First Among Equals would be those cut diamonds which are certified by GIA (Gemological Institute of America) with a GIA Diamond Grading Report or a GIA Diamond Dossier.

In the years that I am in the diamond, jade and Jewelry business, I have heard many comments and questions asked on cut diamonds by customers, business associates and friends. Many of them were professionals, well-to-do and well read, but they knew little about diamonds, except for the occasion when they need to buy a good diamond ring for their loved ones. They took the words of a sales assistant from the retailer on what they perceived that it was a reputable jeweller. And they didn’t delve on the matter further or went in search for new information from the internet. Or even from the internet, there was a lot of misleading information or information was presented at the best positive light to the unwary from the online promoter/retailer.

Assorted diamonds. 3D render with caustics, HDRI lighting and raytraced textures.

Some of the information of what they heard previously were half-truth, myths, marketing fluff, promotion gimmicks and hype-up sales talk which were meant to entice customers to do the purchase. That is, the sales assistant was hungry for the to-be-done sales, thinking of lunch and scheming on how to shake the monies from your pocket by throwing every bits of information onto you. Of course, this is written in pun!

The following are some of the comments I have often heard.

Comment: Diamonds are only found in Africa.

Most people would believe that diamonds only came from Africa, before the online proliferation of information on the internet. This was what a lot of retailers would tell a prospective customer so as to spin the myth of diamond that came only from the dark continent of many African countries.

Diamonds can be found in a number of countries. However, the two main diamond producing bands are the Northern Band and the Southern Band. The Northern Band consists of Canada and Russia, while the Southern band includes South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Australia. Some diamonds are also found in the centre band, such as in Ivory Coast, and Sierra Leone in Africa, Venezuela and Brazil in South America.

Comment: The best diamonds come from the mines in Africa.

South Africa is perhaps the home to some of the most breathtakingly beautiful diamonds in the world. In this remarkable diamond country, diamonds of all shapes and sizes have been discovered. All around the country there are a variety of different mining deposits, as diamonds are discovered in secondary alluvial deposits, underground kimberlite pipes as well as offshore or along the beaches of South Africa. Most of the mines are mainly operated by De Beers, Petra Diamonds, Trans Hex Group and DiamondCorp PLC.

One of the biggest gem quality diamond, the Cullinan, was discovered in this country in January 1905. At the time of the discovery the uncut rough diamond weighed 3106 carat. This was later cut into nine pieces by the Asscher Brothers in Amsterdam.

The Argyle diamond mine in Western Australia produces some of the most beautiful champagne diamonds in the world, with unique color and intensity variations. In determining the value of champagne diamonds, it is the strength of the color that is the most important factor in its valuation.

Hence, the best cut diamonds can come from any part of the diamond producing countries. It makes no difference whether a 5 ct stone comes from South Africa or from Russia. A diamond is a diamond and is still a diamond.

Comment: I bought a diamond solitaire for my ring in South Africa. The sales assistant said that I bought them at a very good price as these diamonds come direct from their mines and were cut at the source by their mining company. I asked them to state the origin and location of the stone where it was mined. She refused, saying that I could take her word for it, as her company was one of the largest and most established diamond dealers in the world.

One might be surprised that the source of mining is seldom the source of cutting. Although most of the huge diamond conglomerates have high tech laser cutting and polishing equipment, most of the smaller diamonds are destined to be cut elsewhere. Surat in India alone accounts for nearly 90% of the smaller diamonds in the world (in terms of number of pieces of diamonds cut), below 1.0 carat, being cut there. China is coming up fast and destined to be a big player in the coming years in the diamond cutting industry and the cutting centres are mostly based in Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

New York, NY

Antwerp and New York City are historically important cutting centres, but they handle mostly the biggie diamonds.

Hence, the lady sales assistant may be giving you the sales hype.

For a diamond, it is not important to know the locality of where it is mined. There are seldom any distinguishing characteristics within the molecular structure of a cut diamond that identifies the location of a mined diamond.

Even the most renowned gemological laboratory in the world, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) does not state the origin of the diamond in their certificates.

Comment: It is cheaper to buy diamonds at the source as each time a cut diamond moves from one locality to another, there are marginal costs involved.

This is also another fallacy, although in economic terms it make sense as when a product moves from place to place, there are various inherent cost.

Most of the diamond dealers in the world use the standard diamond price listing in Rapnet, which updates the world’s cut diamond prices on a weekly basis. Rapnet (Rapaport Diamond Trading Network) is available exclusively to members of the diamond and Jewelry trade. It has a listings of over 1,000,000 diamonds in all shapes, sizes and grades and buyers and sellers deal directly with each other.

So Jewelry retailers who still insist that they acquire diamonds at source, and hence, they sell the same product much cheaper than elsewhere is a marketing ploy to the uninitiated.

Comment: There are plentiful of diamonds in the world. The reason that they are so expensive is because the world’s price is control by cartels like de Beers.

The main factors that affect the supply of cut diamonds is the reducing stockpile of De Beers’ and an increasing demand of diamonds with the emergent markets and huge appetite of mainland China. The discovery of large diamond deposits in Russia, Canada and Australia has helped to break up the near monopoly of De Beers.

In the 80s De Beers has a 90% market share in rough diamonds, by the late 90s the market share has eroded to 60% and currently it still has a control of 33% of rough diamonds in the world. Hence, De Beers does not have anymore strangle hold on all the rough in the world that was mined.

However, prices of cut diamonds are still going up year upon year. This is especially so for diamonds of 3 to 4 carats, and sizes above 5 carats while prices for below 1 ct has somewhat stabilized.

My Take

Thomas Jefferson (Year 1743 to 1826), the third President of the United States of America and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, wrote that “…All Men are created equal…”

All diamonds are created equal too, whether they are mined in African countries, Russia, Canada or in other countries.

However, for cut diamonds, some of them are first among equals, if the diamond is authenticated by the world’s renowned gemological laboratory. When a cut diamond is accompanied by a GIA (Gemological Institute of America) diamond report or a dossier, that diamond as described in the certificate is as per specification. The GIA report can be verified directly from the GIA website for its authenticity.

Hence, whenever you buy a diamond, make sure that the diamond has a GIA diamond report.

Buy it Right!

Photo Credit: capetowndiamondmuseum.org, pricescope.com, paulzimnisky.com, astardiamonds.com, costerdiamonds.com, thetrace.org, thewest.com.au, mining.com, bloomberg.com, colonialjewelers.com, stevenstone.co.uk, nationalgeographic.com, mozambiqueminingjournal.com

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