Diamond Notes

De Beers Web Site Suffers Security Glitch

De Beers? www.adiamondisforever.com Web site recently had a security glitch that could have let hackers see the names and addresses of thousands of site registrants.

According to CNET, an Internet news service, a San Francisco Bay area computer consultant stumbled on the embarrassing problem while searching for his home address on a search engine. He came across a list of thousands of home addresses and e-mail addresses of registrants to the De Beers site, which lets users register for promotions and e-mailings. His own personal information was included in the list. A CNET reporter eventually duplicated the glitch.

The consultant e-mailed the De Beers site, and the snafu was fixed, a spokeswoman says. ?The only two people who accessed the data were the user who discovered it and the reporter from CNET,? says Cheryl Pellegrino of the Diamond Information Center. ?The error was fixed soon after it was discovered. Security measures have since been taken to ensure that this will not happen again. Adiamondisforever.com users can now be assured that their information is completely secure and confidential.? ? Rob Bates

U.S. Diamond Sales Climb 12% in 1999

U.S. retail sales of diamond jewelry soared 12% in 1999?the biggest jump of the ?90s. De Beers marketing director Derek Palmer credited the strong American economy as well as De Beers? millennium campaign for the good news.

Worldwide retail sales rose 10% last year. Only Japan?s market suffered a decline.

De Beers? New Name

After an embarrassing episode in which sightholder R. Steinmetz appropriated De Beers? name in advertising for its Web site, De Beers is now forbidding sightholders to use its name without its permission.

Instead, sightholders are being asked to use the name ?Diamond Trading Company.? ?We are reserving the brand name of De Beers and generating the separate identity of Diamond Trading Company for our sightholders,? says De Beers managing director Gary Ralfe.

Spokesman Andrew Lamont notes that, since De Beers recently acquired all of former sister company Anglo-American?s stake in the ?Diamond Trading Company? entity, it may now do more to promote the ?DTC? name. ? Rob Bates

De Beers: Branding Is an ?Add-On?

After years of hedging, De Beers now acknowledges it?s giving the green light to selling ?branded? diamonds?but it says the stones will never be more than a ?add-on? to its standard business.

?We hope to bring these stones to market, but I hope everyone will realize that only a small number will be branded,? says Derek Palmer, a marketing executive for the De Beers office in London. ?These stones will only be a small percentage of our total sales. Our core business is selling regular diamonds through the traditional means of distribution.?

But Palmer thinks it?s a good thing that so many companies are jumping on the ?branding? bandwagon. ?We welcome all brands,? he says. ?We think it will make the market more competitive and enlarge the category. Our industry is being outspent on advertising by other luxury goods. Can you imagine the perfume industry with no brands?simply ads sponsored by the Perfume Trading Company? It wouldn?t be too exciting.? ? Rob Bates

New Color Treatment for Diamonds

John Haynes of InColor Enhanced Diamonds in Heath, Ohio, is promoting treated black and green faceted diamonds, and the Gemological Institute of America?s research laboratory is trying to unravel the mystery of the color.

So far, GIA?s research shows that the ?black? diamonds, which appear opaque black when examined under diffused light, are actually a very dark brown and transparent when viewed with fiber-optic light.

InColor says it color-enhances its diamonds with new ?high-energy electrodynamic processes, which activate color centers in the atomic lattice.? According to the company, that?s how diamonds are colored in nature. But after examining visible absorption spectra, GIA believes that ?these diamonds have been exposed to some type of ionizing radiation.?

In 1971, Haynes turned diamonds green by placing them in contact with americium 241 oxide, which is used as a radiation source in scientific research. ?Those took months,? says Haynes. ?These take only minutes.? He says the InColor process doesn?t use any radioactive materials and the resulting diamonds are absolutely clean. ?Actually, in our black process, the single-crystal diamond lattice is transformed into amorphous diamond from the surface down to about 250,000 atoms deep,? says Haynes. This is comforting to note, since Haynes is the only retail jeweler we know of who has built his own nuclear reactor. ? Gary Roskin, G.G., FGA

Another ?Natural? Treatment Debuts

New? color and clarity enhancement processes for diamonds have been announced by Moti Weisbrot, managing director of First Diamond Group Ltd. (FDG), based in Israel. According to Weisbrot, the color process is ?based only on natural treatments, without any residual signs of minimal radiation.? He says the natural-appearing intense colors are a product of high temperature and high pressure along with ?natural radiation systems.?

FDG claims it?s accomplishing what nature intended. ?Ionizing radiation is simply a form of energy derived from atoms that are always around us,? says Weisbrot. ?Radiation exposure may come from either natural or man-made sources. Natural radiation may come from soil and rocks, the food we eat, the houses we live in, cosmic rays, and even our own bodies. The level of radiation exposure depends on location and altitude. In the lab, we are able to create the desired environment and create our own ?location and altitude? without actually having to travel to the top of Everest.?

FDG says its process uses rubidium 87 (found in soil), thorium 232 (found in common rocks), radon 220 (found in houses), and lead 208. ?We help nature ?finish? the work that has been started millions of years ago, by giving those beautiful fancy colors to the diamonds,? says Weisbrot. ?We just give a little ?push,? creating the right natural environment around the stone.?

FDG?s list of elements for creating a ?natural environment? is reminiscent of Chatham Created Gems? ?100% Natural Ingredients? ad from 1984, a tongue-in-cheek pitch for Chatham Created Emeralds that lists the natural chemical ingredients that make up the gem (see photo on p. 88). Chatham?s ad also discloses that the emerald is created in the laboratory and is by no means a natural product.

The colors of FDG diamonds appear identical to those of the rarest fancy-colored diamonds. The enhancement process can create ?fancy intense? colors from ?fancy light? colored diamonds (just past ?Z? on GIA?s color-grading scale). ?We are even able to make ?vivid? yellows,? says Weisbrot. ?Take into consideration that the normal ?bombarded? goods should have very synthetic-like color appearances.?

The enhanced diamonds will be sold under the name ?Fancy Color Enhanced Diamonds? in a number of colors, including intense yellow, ?canary? yellow, green, blue, gold, ?cognac,? black, and pink.

FDG also claims to have perfected the Yehuda fracture-filling process. Weisbrot says the company has succeeded in ?removing white and black piqués, without the usual ?rainbow.? ? He adds that the new clarity enhancement makes a fracture ?crystal clear, without any visible sign to the eye.? That?s a bold claim, since both color and clarity enhancements are identifiable by GIA.

FDG will provide color and clarity enhancement services to the trade for a flat fee of $150 per carat. Contact the company at (972-53) 973-501, fax (972-9) 956-7216, e-mail: weisbrot@internet-zahav.net.

?Gary Roskin, G.G., FGA