Diamonds: Record-Setting Briolettes, Digging for Diamonds in Wells & More

It Had to Be Blue

On Nov. 14 at Sotheby’s Geneva, a 10.48 ct. fancy deep-blue briolette diamond fetched $1.036 million a carat, setting a world record per-carat price for a deep-blue stone. The buyer: London dealer and auction perennial Laurence Graff, who paid $10.8 million—a record for a briolette diamond.

Source of Controversy

A coalition of leading U.S. industry groups has developed the Diamond Source Warranty Protocol, which they bill as a new way for retailers to ensure that diamonds from problematic areas do not infiltrate their supply chain.

The scheme—endorsed by Jewelers of America, the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, and the Diamond Manufacturers and Importers Association of America—does not specify any diamond-producing regions to avoid. The areas, however, could include the Marange region of Zimbabwe, where diamond mines are currently subject to U.S. sanctions, or countries that are not members of the Kimberley Process.

Cecilia Gardner

Cecilia Gardner, president and CEO of the JVC, says the protocol is a template that buyers and sellers can customize. It requires an outside auditor review any source assurances. “You insert the relevant language into your contractual language,” says Gardner. “It becomes an enforceable contract between buyers and sellers.”

Matthew A. Runci

Outgoing Jewelers of America president and CEO Matthew A. Runci admits that the protocol will take some time to implement and shouldn’t be seen as an “on-off” switch. “The thought here is to recognize there is a need, provide people with a tool, and encourage people to talk to their business partners about how they can accommodate those requests,” Runci says, adding that use of the protocol is voluntary.

Not everyone, however, believes that the Diamond Source Warranty Protocol is a wise idea. At the October World Diamond Congress in Mumbai, many participants expressed, in the words of the final communiqué, “grave concerns”; some worry it would be too costly to implement and would have a negative effect on the downstream industry. One speaker, Chaim Even-Zohar, even declared that the protocol should be “buried.”

But the DMIA’s Ronald Friedman maintains that many retailers already ask their suppliers to avoid diamonds from Marange. This simply gives them a way to back up those assurances. “This protocol doesn’t represent anything out of the ordinary from what we are already doing,” he says.

Well, Well, Well

The found diamond in its setting

When a customer came in with a rock he’d found in a local well, New Richmond, Wis., retailer Karen Greaton admits she wasn’t expecting much.

“He said, ‘This stone looks kind of interesting,’?” says the owner of Greaton’s Designing Jewelers. It was: The rock turned out to be a 1.22 ct. diamond.

The amateur prospector, Dan Fangan, was searching for gems in a well near his home when he came across a white translucent rock that piqued his interest.

“I have seen a lot of polished but I’m not really familiar with raw diamonds,” says Greaton. “It was really clean, and it had some inclusions, and so I put it in the diamond tester and it beeped. But it kind of had a greenish tinge so I put it in the moissanite tester and it also beeped diamond.” She then took it to a geology professor who confirmed it.

By this point, Greaton realized she had quite a tale to tell, so she called the local newspaper, which headlined the story the next day. Then the national press picked it up and the story grew legs that surprised everyone. “I heard from the ­daughter of my mother’s friend, whom I hadn’t heard from in 45 years,” she says.

Despite all the hoopla, Greaton says the rock is not really worth cutting: “It has some impurities.” She put the stone in a necklace, which will be given to the daughter Fangan is expecting.

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