Posted on April 30, 2012
It is sad to hear news of another apparent diamond grading scandal, this time at HRD. The so-called "improprieties" do not tarnish everyone who works at that lab—just as the earlier problems at the Gemological Institute of America's lab did not reflect badly on every employee there. But these episodes are a reminder that labs need to stay vigilant to make sure these kind of episodes do not recur. Preventing improprieties should be a top priority for people in the certification business.
As with the GIA scandal, we are hearing calls to name the three companies that have been ordered to "clear their accounts" at HRD. And, as before, there are rumors that big names are involved. HRD said it has turned over its dossier to law enforcement, which has reportedly begun an investigation. Hopefully, the Antwerp authorities will look into this, especially since this is something many local companies want investigated.
The GIA scandal blew up about seven years ago, but it left a bad taste in people's mouths that still lingers. Four graders were fired from GIA but the companies that allegedly paid off graders were never confirmed publicly. Despite the fact that some of the companies were rumored to be sightholders, none lost their client status.
Aside from selling conflict diamonds, it is hard to think of a lower activity for a company to be involved with than bribing diamond graders. Not only is this a crime, it is far from a victim-less one; it hurts honest companies that try to compete with the bribers and can't, as well as consumers who are ripped off by "up-graded" certs. Some of the guilty parties involved in the GIA "certifigate" scandal have apparently gotten away with it, despite repeated calls to get prosecutors involved. I appeal to the Antwerp authorities: Please, don't let the same thing happen again.