Diamond Notes

New Millennium Etched in Stone

Just in time for the new millennium, the International Gemmological Institute, a grading lab and appraising firm in New York City, is offering to laser-inscribe a store logo alongside a millennium or personal message on the girdle of a diamond submitted for a laboratory report. The service, called LaserScribe, can imprint whatever a customer wants (within reason). The example that IGI uses to illustrate the service shows its logo beside the word “Millennium.”

The report comes in a pocket-sized format that eliminates the typical plotting diagram and includes a close-up photo of the inscription. Here in the United States, only IGI and Lazare Kaplan International (LKI), as well as any LKI licensee (such as GIA’s Gem Trade Laboratory), have the rights to inscribe per their protected U.S. patents.

Diamonds submitted to IGI can now be packaged with De Beers millennium promotional material, including a De Beers 2000-IGI millennium time capsule. All these elements—the LaserScribed logo or millennium message, pocket-sized report with close-up photo of the inscription, and millennium capsule—are available through IGI. For information, call (212) 753-7100 or visit www.IGI-USA.com.—Gary Roskin, G.G., FGA

GIA: Pegasus Stone Was Submitted Twice

The Gemological Institute of America’s Gem Trade Laboratory has spotted a “Pegasus”-treated diamond submitted with its inscription removed—twice.

Since last year, Lazare Kaplan International and General Electric have marketed the heat- and pressure-treated stones through Pegasus Overseas Limited, an LKI subsidiary. But before marketing the stones, the two companies agreed to laser-inscribe them with the acronym “GE POL” to ensure detection. Soon afterward, however, diamonds were resubmitted to GTL with their inscriptions removed. Lab officials believe that, in virtually every case, the de-inscribed diamonds were spotted by GIA’s Horizon computer system.

The diamond in question was originally submitted for grading—with an inscription—last April. Six weeks later it was submitted again—without an inscription—by a different client. GIA identified the recut diamond as a Pegasus stone and authorized reinscription. In September, a third client resubmitted the stone to the lab—with its inscription removed again.

“This just shows that if these things do happen, we can spot them,” says GIA spokeswoman Vicki Morrison. But, she adds, “We can’t guarantee that some stones haven’t slipped through.”

GIA president William E. Boyajian says that since Pegasus began selling the diamonds, the lab has identified about a dozen color-treated stones submitted without inscriptions. Lazare Kaplan and GE hope these incidents will occur less frequently as Pegasus begins to sell the stones directly to U.S. retailers.—Rob Bates

Marilyn: Diamonds’ Best Friend

Marilyn Monroe, who famously crooned that “diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” proved to be one of diamonds’ best friends at a recent auction. The late actress’s diamond “eternity” ring sold for $700,000 at an October sale at Christie’s, well above the auction house’s estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. The platinum ring, which is missing one of its original 35 baguette diamonds, was given to Monroe by New York Yankee baseball star Joe DiMaggio after their 1954 wedding.

Among the notable bidders: platinum designer Scott Kay and Diamond Information Center director Joan Parker, who represented DIC. But ultimately the ring went to an anonymous telephone bidder.—Rob Bates and Gary Roskin, G.G., FGA

Biggest Diamond Mine Ever?

Russian geologists believe that they have discovered the biggest diamond deposit ever. It’s the Lomonosov field, off the White Sea near Finland, and it may hold $12 billion worth of diamonds.

De Beers has a 27% stake in the area, but executives say they will conduct a feasibility study before deciding whether to mine. A De Beers executive tells JCK, “There’s no doubt Lomonosov will be a major mine.” According to early reports, the mine could produce $300 million a year over an estimated 40-year life span.

In related news, De Beers and Russia recently marked 40 years of cooperation with a ceremony in Moscow. The two sides’ collaboration predates glasnost and the break-up of the Soviet Union, although during the Cold War they kept their agreements secret.—Rob Bates

De Beers Likely To Set Sales Record

It looks as if De Beers has ended the 1990s with a bang—most analysts predicted its 1999 sales would reach a record $5 billion or more. If so, it will be a stunning turnaround for the company, whose 1998 sales of $3.35 billion represented an 11-year low and a 28% drop from 1997’s sales.

Some analysts believe De Beers’ 1998 cutbacks set the stage for the record year in ’99. They reason that by severely curtailing allocations in the wake of the Asian economic slowdown, De Beers restored confidence in the diamond business, which fueled desire for more inventory. Analysts also credit the robust U.S. economy and improved economic conditions in Asia. The company’s pre-holiday sight in September was estimated at $700 million, its biggest allocation ever.

De Beers, meanwhile, is aiming even higher. Chairman Nicky Oppenheimer recently announced that the company hopes to sell half its $4 billion diamond stockpile. De Beers officials have complained that financial markets place “almost no value” on its massive diamond holdings, and reducing the stockpile is one of the prime goals of the firm’s strategic review.—Rob Bates

AGS to Take Poll On Grading Of Fancy Cuts

The American Gem Society Lab plans to “poll the industry” to determine the best way to grade fancy cuts, according to lab director Peter Yantzer. “We’re going to send out a mailing to see if we can get any consensus,” he says. But the first cut grade probably won’t be ready for another two years.

Yantzer notes that the lab has optical performance equipment that could help make the decision, but AGS also wants to factor in traditional measures, such as proportion, polish, and symmetry. He adds that he’s received positive reaction to the plan to grade fancies. “People are calling up and saying, ‘Just pick any parameters right now, and we’ll cut to it.’ I told them we can’t do that,” he says.—Rob Bates

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