What are irradiated diamonds, how are they manufactured and why?
Who wants them, who needs them and what name should we use for them?
To avoid unjustified concern among consumers?
These questions were addressed-in the lecture presented by Ya’akov Almor at the annual event of the Accredited Gemologists Association, held in May in Las Vegas acording to some estimates, approximately 150 manufacturers and traders of natural diamonds that have undergone color change – in the United States, Israel, India, Hong Kong, China and other countries – are doing business in the hundreds of millions of dollars a year in this field, which has very gradually, over a period of some 20 years, found its way into the mainstream of the world polished diamond trade. It is a relatively small niche, but a widely accepted and successful one.
In saying “color change,” I use a neutral term, because, as explained below, the correct nomenclature for these diamonds is still under discussion.
two international diamond organizations – WFDB and IDMA – and the World Jewellery Confederation (CIBJO).
• In the IDC Rules, under paragraph 1.1.2, Treated Diamond, itsays: “A permanent treatment process may be irradiation”
• The CIBJO Diamond Book defines irradiation in paragraph
4.25, Irradiation: “Exposing a diamond to radiation”;
• According to the USA’s Federal Trade Commission (FTC): “Gemstone treatments or enhancements refer to the way some
gems are treated to improve their appearance or durability, or even change their color. The effects of some treatments may lessen or
change over time and some treated stones may require special care.
Some enhancements also affect the value of a stone
when measured against a comparable untreated stone.”
With regard to irradiated stones, it says: ” A jeweler should tell you whether the gemstone you’re looking at has been treated if the
treatment isn’t permanent, the treated stone requires special care or the treatment significantly affects the value of the gemstone.
Some common treatments and their effects include: irradiation, which can add color to colored diamonds, certain other gemstones
Recently the FTC announced a call for suggestions from manufacturers and the trade for the purpose of reviewing the
nomenclature for different treatments of natural diamonds and synthetic diamonds.
At the most recent CIBJO congress, held in May in Vicenza, stones. The simple, but rather short-sighted answer is that we call
them what they are: irradiated diamonds. However, while the term “irradiated diamonds” will always be used on official trade
documentation and diamond grading reports, more salable and understandable terminology is needed in the market.
Of course, the treaters, manufacturers and wholesalers would like to call these stones “color-enhanced natural diamonds.” Some of
them are already doing so, but since there have not yet been any organized attempts to market these stones as such, the jury is still
out on this issue.
Who make the rules? Who is really the jury that calls the shots on nomenclature?
There are two international organizations that deal directly with the definition of nomenclature rules for diamonds: the
International Diamond Council (IDC), which was founded by the process – it is non-nuclear and therefore leaves no kind of residual
radiation behind – and the fact that it is irreversible – and there you have a very salable niche product.
In addition, since today’s diamond industry is open minded, it is always seeking new, profitable market niches. Jewelry
manufacturers and retailers are looking for new products at good price points. At the same time, consumers are seeking alternatives
to the real, but often unobtainable and unaffordable thing.
Celeb-Driven Demand Demand for specific jewelry is often celeb-driven. For instance,when years ago, Ben Affleck proposed to Jennifer Lopez with a six-carat natural pink diamond ring, a trend was set and First of all, the market wants niche products that have moved
from the market’s periphery into its center of acceptance.
Second, such diamonds are needed in order to compete in an ever-more competitive market. And third, we don’t need to be concerned
with disclosure issues, as the entire supply pipeline is becomingbetter educated and capable of coping with the complexities of
the nomenclature involved.
That leaves us with the question of what we are going to call thesesoon consumers wanted to buy the same.
This created huge opportunities for alternative pink stones, such as HPHT-treated and irradiated pink diamonds, as well as pink sapphire, pink beryl (morganite) and pink tourmaline. The marriage of Kate Middleton to Prince William created a “second-generation
round” of consumer demand for copies of Diana’s blue sapphire and diamond engagement ring, which was huge, as at the time of
Diana’s engagement to Charles, e-commerce was not yet playing a role in jewelry sales.
So are irradiated, or color-enhanced diamonds here to stay? Theydefinitely are.
used in the late 1990s to successfully triumph over a brain tumor that endangered my life.
Pleasant to the Eye and to the Pocket In the course of time the control of the irradiation process hasreached near perfection.
After careful sorting and categorization of the stones, the treaters can produce diamonds in almost the entirespectrum of colors, as there are plenty of unmarketable diamonds in the market that can be treated and color enhanced. Naturally, it is not possible to turn any color into any other color.
Experts in the process say that every (white, transparent) diamond holds the hidden potential for another color, depending on its base color.
For example, a stone in a certain tone of brown can be changed to a cherry-colored red, and a different brown stone might be
changed to pink. The process is very delicate and requires a great deal of experience and knowledge. Naturally, the high level of
repeatability greatly enhances the marketability of these goods and strengthens demand.
Add to that the undisputed safety of the It is reasonable to attribute the boost in demand for diamonds that have undergone color change
to Rio Tinto, the owner of the Argyle mine in Australia. In the 1990s, the company joined hands with a number of its core clients, all
Indian diamond manufacturers, and established
the Indo Argyle Diamond Council (IADC).
Their common goal was to increase the polished output from the rough mined at the Argyle mine.
In a brilliant move, the IADC members began polishing brown rough, which until that time was considered industrial quality, unsuitable for gems.
They marketed the polished stones under attractive names – “champagne” or “sherry” colored diamonds, which entered the market in considerable quantity, and achieved handsome sales figures and good profits. However, not all the colors of the near-gem diamonds were suitable for this special marketing campaign.
The solution found for them was to change their color.
There is no doubt that the market for diamonds that have undergone color change benefited considerably from Tiffany and
Cartier’s success in 1997, when they presented jewelry set with black and white diamonds.
The first of this jewelry to arrive in the marketplace was set with natural black diamonds.
These diamonds were black from “birth,” when they were extracted from the belly of the Earth. However, as demand increased, theywere soon replaced by color-treated black diamonds.
By Ya’akov Almor