De Beers Plans Pegasus ‘Black Box’

Months after it discovered a way to identify stones “whitened” by high pressure and high temperature, De Beers may now have a “black box” that could enable easy detection of the diamonds.

“We have more work to do and a few more tests, but we’re far ahead of where we were 15 months ago,” says Dr. Chris Wellbourn, a De Beers scientist. “Still, we’re not at the point where we can say, ‘We’ve solved it. Here’s a box.'”

Wellbourn says the box, a low-temperature photoluminescence detector, would have a high price tag and be more suitable for gem labs than for jewelers, since the machine’s verdict would need to be backed up by identifying characteristics.

In an upcoming article inGems & Gemology, De Beers will describe additional distinguishing characteristics of the whitened diamonds, formerly dubbed “Pegasus” stones by process originator General Electric. GE and partner Lazare Kaplan now market the stones under the brand name “Bellataire.”

While the people at Bellataire previously have expressed skepticism about some of the new detection techniques, they’re taking a “wait and see” approach about the new method. Says GE spokesman Terry Kane: “A detection technique would actually be a good thing for us. You can’t patent the process unless it’s proven that something has been done to [the stone]. Some of the recent detection techniques we have seen work only on some stones. But we don’t know about these new techniques until we actually see the results. It would be unfair of us to comment until we see the data.”