Lasering Without Drilling

The Gemological Institute of America’s Gem Trade Laboratory has encountered a new laser drilling method that doesn’t leave a hole. Tom Moses, GTL vice president in charge of gem identification, says the result is a series of small fractures. “One or more lasers are focused on the inclusion to heat it so that it expands and creates stress to extend the cleavage to the surface,” Moses explains.

Acid is forced into the resulting fractures to bleach the inclusion. According to Moses, this method of lasering “provides a conduit [of fractures] to the dark inclusion for a treatment that most likely involves boiling in strong acids to reduce the visibility of the dark inclusion.”

The method would make economic sense only if a gem’s clarity is already low (SI2/I1), if the dark inclusion is reasonably close to the surface, and if the laser treatment goes undetected and unreported on the certificate.

“Called ‘internal lasering,’ it’s a process you probably won’t see any more,” says Ron Yehuda of Yehuda Diamonds. Ron’s father, Zvi Yehuda, was an early developer of laser drilling. According to Yehuda, this new style of drilling is made possible by new high-performance, high-power lasers, which don’t need to focus on a black spot to begin drilling, as do older lasers. Now that GIA has identified the process, it probably won’t be used. —Gary Roskin, G.G., FGA

Diamond.com’s Un-cert-ainty

Until recently, if you clicked on a diamond at Diamond.com (formerly Odimo.com), a strange thing happened. No matter what “cert” the diamond is sold with—European Gemological Laboratory, International Gemmological Institute, or any other—up popped an outline of a Gemological Institute of America grading report.

It’s a situation that has made GIA—as well as some dealers—very unhappy. GIA president William Boyajian says he has received a written assurance that the “certs” will change.

Alan Lipton, head of the new company, says a technical error caused the mistake. “It’s being corrected immediately,” he says. “It was a problem since we changed over to our new technology. It’s not a big deal, since most of our stones are sold with GIA reports anyway.”

This is the second time the company has had problems with trademark issues. Its first ads last year featured De Beers and GIA logos. When both GIA and De Beers complained, the De Beers logo was removed, and the ads were changed to read, “We support GIA.”

Despite all this, the company, which only recently picked up the enviable domain name Diamond.com, has fans in the investment

community. It now has $125 million in venture capital funding behind it. “We are one of the best-capitalized jewelry Internet players in the industry,” says Lipton, a former executive of Jan Bell, who says the money will go for “global expansion.” The company is owned by Israeli sightholder R. Steinmetz and Son.—Rob Bates

Oved’s New Treatment Is ‘Un-Torch-Able’

The Oved Diamond Company is adding a new wrinkle to the fracture-filling process. It’s unveiling a new filler it claims is resistant to the high temperature of a jeweler’s torch.

“A lot of retailers said they didn’t want to touch clarity enhancement because the filling reverses when jewelers tried to clean it,” says company president Jonathan Oved. Oved eventually hired an engineer to come up with a solution. “We locked him in a room and said, ‘Don’t come out until you solve this,’ ” he says.

What the captive engineer came up with is being kept secret, but it has a higher melting point and a different formula from those of traditional fillers, Oved says. It affects 75% of Oved’s stones—although the company eventually wants to raise that number to 100%. Tom Moses of the Gemological Institute of America’s Gem Trade Lab says its initial tests indicate that the new filler is more durable than previous fillers.

While the new treatment may be more durable than previous incarnations, it’s still not permanent—the filler can be dissolved if it’s soaked overnight in acid. The new treatment also still exhibits the “flash effect”—the telltale sign jewelers use to detect filled stones.

Meanwhile, rival filling company Yehuda expressed skepticism about the new product. It sent out a statement stating it also has a torch-resistant filling that it will make available to anyone who wants it.—Rob Bates

Canadian Mine Considers Starting Its Own Brand

The new Ekati mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories wants to hop aboard the “brand-wagon.” The mine’s Graham Nicholls says it’s considering starting its own “Ekati” brand—which could be sold via traditional retail outlets or on the Internet.

Nicholls stresses that no decision has been made on whether to proceed or what form the brand might take. “Clearly, inscriptions would play a role in any branding effort,” he says.

He says the company would continue to sell one-third of its production to De Beers and other stones to local diamond manufacturers.—Rob Bates

N.Y. Congressman Visits DDC

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) recently paid a visit to the Diamond Dealers Club to discuss legislation mandating that diamonds be sold with certificates of origin to ensure they don’t come from conflict areas. Nadler wasn’t familiar with details of the bill, but DDC president Eli Haas says he pledged to work with the DDC, which is in his district. Haas says the club reached out to Nadler as part of its new effort to maintain closer contact with political leaders.—Rob Bates

One Sightholder Acquires Another

E. Schrieber, a New York-based sightholder, has acquired J. Klagsbrun, another New York sightholder. The move will make Schrieber one of the largest diamond companies in New York. The acquisition gives the company two sights. “This gives us more goods for our customers,” says Schrieber’s Ben Moller. “It’s part of a general trend toward consolidation. The overall pie is not getting bigger, so people have to figure out ways to have a bigger slice.”

Ron Klagsbrun, formerly of J. Klagsbrun, will join E. Schrieber, while brother Herbert will retire from the business. —Rob Bates

Green Diamond Sets Record at Christie’s

A 1.73-ct. old-mine-cut fancy vivid yellowish-green diamond named the Belle Epoque recently sold at Christie’s New York auction house for $886,000, or roughly $500,000 per carat, a record price. The diamond, whose saturated green hue required millions of years to create, belongs to the rarest of all color categories. “This is truly a magnificent stone,” says Stephen Hofer, author of Collecting and Classifying Coloured Diamonds, who examined the diamond for Christie’s.

In February, JCK reported on a .90-ct. fancy vivid green diamond auctioned at Sotheby’s for $670,000 per carat. This, too, was a record. “No two yellowish- green diamonds are exactly the same,” writes Hofer. “This yellowish-green ‘peridot-colored’ diamond is special on account of the unique position it occupies within three-dimensional color space.” The two greens, however, are not in the same color classification, because the 1.73-ct. stone is yellowish-green. “It’s all because of the word ‘yellow,’ ” says Hofer, in reference to the lower selling price of the larger diamond.

A North American private party made the winning bid on the Belle Epoque, which was listed as “the property of a gentleman.”—Gary Roskin, G.G., FGA

Not Just Another Pretty Picture Book

John I. Koivula, GIA’s chief research gemologist, takes terrific photomicrographs of diamonds, and his new book, The MicroWorld of Diamonds, published by Gemworld International Inc., is filled with them. But the book is much more than pictures and captions. It’s a complete education on a gem I thought I knew. It’s also a fun read.

What makes The MicroWorld of Diamonds so enjoyable is the way it’s written. If you’ve read Koivula’s articles in Gems & Gemology, Journal of Gemmology, or Canadian Gemmologist, you’ve been well informed. MicroWorld will not only inform you but also inspire you. It provides insight into what’s inside a diamond as well as what’s inside Koivula—his passionate enthusiasm.

By helping the reader enjoy diamonds from the inside out, The MicroWorld of Diamonds shows us how to look at the gem as if for the first time. It explains how to use magnification and lighting and teaches what to look for on the surface as well as in the interior of the gem. It provides microscopic evidence of enhancements, synthetics, and simulants.

The book strikes a blow against the “commodity attitude” that has stricken diamond sales. Koivula shows so much love and understanding of diamond’s microscopic features that the reader gets swept up in his enthusiasm. That’s good. Because if retailers don’t feel the excitement inherent in this most important gem, how will consumers feel it?—Gary Roskin, G.G., FGA

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