De Beers Develops Device to Detect Synthetic Melee



De Beers is developing a device that can detect whether smaller diamonds are lab-grown or natural, executives said at a Nov. 30 briefing for Anglo American shareholders.

“We are working on an additional machine which is going to detect automatically very small diamonds,” said CEO Philippe Mellier. “Up until today you have to look at them one by one to see if it’s synthetic or non-synthetic. We will have something automated going down to the smallest [diamond].”

Later, Forevermark CEO Stephen Lussier described the machine as ready to go into testing.

“There is now some concern in the industry over melee small diamonds [that might be synthetic],” he said. “We have made an automated melee feeder that will allow you to volume process through the machines. That will go into test with our clients early next year.”

The executives didn’t say whether the device could also detect diamond treatments in smaller stones.

De Beers isn’t the first industry entity to announce a breakthrough on this front. Earlier this year, the Analytical Gemology and Jewelry laboratory announced it had developed a method to batch-test melee diamonds and identify them as natural, treated, or synthetic.

De Beers also hinted that it had developed a new automated grading device.

“We are using some specific machines to have automatic color and clarity assessments,” Mellier said. “[It] can be rough but we are also moving down to polished.”