Labs Continue Grading Controversial Stones

Responding to criticism from the leading diamond associations, the gemological labs say their policies on grading synthetics and HPHT-treated stones are in the industry’s interest.

The two major associations, meeting recently at the World Diamond Congress in New York, said labs should not issue grading reports for synthetic stones. But the only major lab that issues reports for synthetics, EGL USA, says it has no plans to stop.

“Providing a grading report for a synthetic diamond generates greater confidence in our industry and helps the trade and consumers differentiate naturals from synthetics,” an EGL USA statement says. “[It also] minimizes the risk of some producers going underground to create an alternative market that could potentially damage the industry.”

The Gemological Institute of America’s Gem Laboratory does not grade synthetics but grades HPHT-treated stones. The associations urged the labs to have more identifying marks on their HPHT reports, including a different color jacket.

But GIA says its “HPHT-processed diamond reports contain a number of indicators and declarations of the treatment that are quite prominent. Although we believe the disclosure on the GIA report is sufficient to alert the recipient of the report to the treatment, we are taking the recommendations into consideration.”

Some commentators, notably Peter Meuss, managing director of the Antwerp promotional group HRD, called upon GIA and other labs to stop grading HPHT stones altogether, saying this puts HPHT stones on the same plane as nontreated stones.

A GIA statement to JCK responds: “We believe [HPHT stones] have a place in the market and … deserve to be accompanied by a grading report. Reporting on these items, and properly identifying and disclosing the treatment, is key to fostering confidence with consumers.”

“[GIA does] not believe it is our role to ‘pass judgment’ on products—but to provide accurate information to the end consumer,” the statement continues. “GIA is particularly proud of its collaborative work with General Electric and Lazare Kaplan [manufacturers of ‘Bellataire’ stones] to properly identify various methods of diamond treatment.”