New GIA Synthetic Detector Billed As “More Accurate” Than De Beers’

At a Jan. 27 press conference, Gemological Institute of America researchers unveiled DiamondCheck, its new, long-awaited synthetic-diamond detection device. Among the interesting points that emerged:

– Both this new spectroscopic instrument and De Beers’ DiamondSure function similarly; they are not the elusive “black box” that instantly tells you if a stone is man-made, but they refer stones for further testing. (In the case of the DiamondSure, it bumps them to its companion device, DiamondView.) They also examine stones based on different criteria; in DiamondCheck’s case, it uses GIA-developed proprietary software, based on its database of thousands of lab-grown diamonds.

GIA director of research and development Wuyi Wang says the DiamondCheck has less of a refer rate for diamonds than the De Beers device, making it more accurate, as there are fewer false positives (i.e., diamonds flagged as synthetic that aren’t). He also believes that other devices on the market may not be able to detect lab-grown Type Ia diamonds. (The GIA, to its knowledge, has seen only one of these, ever.) The DiamondCheck is able to catch those, Wang says, although GIA vice president for research and development Tom Moses admits that detection could get more challenging in the future. 

– When a diamond is placed in the machine, it quickly informs the user whether a diamond is “natural and untreated,” “further testing [is] needed to determine treatment or synthesis,” or “not diamond” (preempting the need for moissanite or CZ testers). But its examination for treatments is limited to high pressure–high temperature (HPHT) treatment; it doesn’t check for clarity enhancement, laser drilling, or coatings.

– It can also examine diamonds as small as one millimeter—about a point. De Beers has also developed a melee screener meant to examine many stones at once. Moses says it’s possible that GIA could introduce something along those lines, too, which would use the current device along with a feeding system.   

Having used the machine, I can attest that it spits out a reading in seconds and is easy to use, provided the operator is handy with tweezers (which I am not). So it’s certainly imaginable that an Indian factory could have one worker who does nothing but feed stones into this machine all day.

– What’s the downside? The DiamondCheck scans only loose stones, not mounted. And it sells for $23,900—which is not cheap, or affordable to everyone. (Moses says he doesn’t see that dropping substantially in the near term.) 

In line with its public-benefit mission, the GIA is leasing the devices to major diamond bourses throughout the world for free—with the only proviso being that they share with the GIA any info the device uncovers. It’s also available for sale to the industry by GIA Instruments. Moses says the company has already received a fair amount of inquiries.

JCK News Director