Rapaport Corp. has issued a “trade alert” to the industry warning that synthetic melee is now regularly being sold undisclosed alongside natural diamonds in parcels.
The information and trading company warned of “persistent reports that large amounts of synthetic lab-grown diamonds are being mixed with natural diamonds in parcels of melee and pointers.”
Sales of such “mixed parcels” also have been reported by Israeli publication Diamond Intelligence Briefs.
Rapaport Corp. chairman Martin Rapaport says these reports are coming mostly from Asia.
“We have offices in India and people on the ground in China,” he says. “There are mixed parcels out there. This is not make-believe. I don’t believe people should think all is well. There is a real problem out there.”
“This creates a very dangerous situation for the structure of the industry in terms of the smaller- and medium-sized dealers,” he continues. “It really is a big concern if diamond people can’t trust their supply chain. American jewelers are going to be left holding the bag.”
Rapaport says this is a less of problem for big diamonds, which are commonly sent to labs that can detect a stone’s origin.
“The problem becomes when you have these smaller diamonds, it becomes [cost] prohibitive to check them,” he says.
As for where these lab-grown gems are coming from, Rapaport says, “There are a number of people producing them. Some are established people.”
He says that this brings home the need for industry players to have better control of their supply chains.
“I hope the solution is that we will pay more attention to who we buy from,” he says. “You need to know your suppliers. How much do you trust your people?”
Rapaport recommends that traders regularly sample their parcels and write “natural, untreated” on their invoices for parcels they can vouch for.
He also says he plans to have his RapNet online trading service expel dealers who misrepresent their goods.
De Beers has said it is developing a synthetic melee detector, which it is currently testing with its sightholders. And New York City’s Analytical Gemology and Jewelry laboratory has developed a batch testing method for melee.