De Beers Group Industry Services to expand in Europe, Middle East and Asia
By providing a testing service and selling equipment, De Beers Group Industry Services is giving the industry the tools to support itself, says group president Jonathan Kendall. David Brough reports.
Q. De Beers Group Industry Services’ diamond detection equipment were recently tested and received outstanding results under Project ASSURE. What is the significance of this result?
JK: We are thrilled to have received the results of the ASSURE programmes independent testing and to have learnt that our diamond verification instruments performed so well.
It is of key importance to the diamond industry that we are able to provide clear guidance about the capabilities of diamond detection instruments so that our customers can have confidence in the machinery, and their ability to detect lab grown diamonds.
Q. What is the competitive advantage of De Beers Group Industry Services’ diamond detection equipment against competitors from other diamond laboratory groups?
JK: To start with, the results speak for themselves:
De Beers Group Industry Services submitted four instruments for testing: DiamondSure™, AMS2™, SynthDetect™ and DiamondView™, receiving excellent results overall, and with the SynthDetect, AMS2 and DiamondView being the only tested instruments to achieve a diamond accuracy rating above 99%. (For more information, results can be found online at diamondproducers.com/ASSURE)
SynthDetect won the 2018 Industry Innovation of the Year for Diamond Testing Technology at the JNA Awards, one of the most prestigious award programmes in the international jewellery and gemstone industry.
Furthermore, De Beers Group has been a real investor in R&D for decades since the 1950s. Our research into synthetics allowed us to develop all the synthetic detection machines available today. R&D has played a major role in the fast development and acceptance of our grading certificates: the proprietary colour and clarity machines have been the backbone of our success. Achieving highest levels of accuracy and consistency through this technically advanced equipment has made all the difference to our business. We will continue to innovate and provide real value to both the trade and consumers.
Q. How vigilant does the diamond supply chain need to be against risks of undisclosed lab-grown diamonds getting mixed with natural melee and natural diamonds in jewellery?
JK: We decided to sell equipment as it was the most efficient way to counteract unscrupulous and even fraudulent behaviour in the industry. By providing a testing service and selling equipment, we feel we are giving the industry the tools to support itself. In response to the industry concerns in 2015, we agreed to open up our proprietary equipment for sale. This started with the AMS1 and later on the SynthDetect ™ being made available to all those wishing to buy them.
Laboratory picture from De Beers Group Industry Services
Q. Some industry participants are concerned over the costs of using diamond detection equipment. Are new payment or financing models being considered? Can the smaller industry participants share or rent use of equipment?
JK: We do not price our detection equipment to profit from this situation. We try to cover our costs. We have looked at payment systems and leasing, but tax issues make this extremely difficult in many parts of the world. With smaller industry participants, we offer our services and we would suggest they consider pooling resources with others around them.
Q. What are the risks to the industry if participants in the supply chain do not take stringent detection measures?
JK: The industry should think about the consumer first and foremost. If the industry players let undisclosed lab grown diamonds mix with naturals, they are taking value out of the industry and letting their consumers down.
Lab grown diamonds have a place in the jewellery sector. I see them as the modern-day CZ. They are cheap and cheerful, of no inherent value and will be worn for fun.
Diamonds are rare and valuable product of mother nature. This makes them a very different proposition. Something to invest in and nurture. Real natural diamonds will be family heirlooms handed down to future generations to value and enjoy.
No one will hand down a synthetic man-made diamond. They will have no intrinsic value as they will not be rare.
I think the fundamental intrinsic emotional value of diamonds and their inherent true value always needs marketing to the next generation. I feel no worry for the future of gem quality natural diamonds. All the “Millennials” and “Generation Z” women I have asked are as keen as ever on diamonds. Indeed, with the growing middle classes in India and China, I believe demand will outstrip supply in the next 10 years, pushing prices of natural gem diamonds higher, whilst prices of synthetic man-made diamonds will continue to fall. I’d predict man-made diamonds will end up about 10% of the price of real natural diamonds.
Q. What can you say about the trends or prevalence of mixing undisclosed lab-grown diamonds into natural product around the world, and do you believe that this fraudulent practice can be reduced? How can diamond and jewellery trade associations assist?
JK: Building on the above, the potential mix of undisclosed diamonds with natural diamonds is a real concern but we can definitely reduce the risk.
As Jean-Marc Lieberherr, CEO of the Diamond Producers Association, said “Trade participants have a shared responsibility to disclose the nature of the product they are selling to protect the end consumer. Through the ASSURE Program we will support the diamond trade, from independent jewellery retailers to large diamond manufacturers, to make informed decisions on how to ensure that undisclosed laboratory grown diamonds do not enter their natural diamond supply chain. The ASSURE test results should be considered along guidelines formulated by the Responsible Jewellery Council.”
Diamond detection machinery
At De Beers Group Industry Services, we will focus on adding value to our customers’ businesses, helping them improve their margins and their sustainability. If there’s one word I’d say to describe our plans, it’s building TRUST across the diamond business to ultimately make us a successful sustainable industry providing products that are loved by Millennials and Generation Z alike.
Q. What plans do you have for opening further laboratories and expanding your lab services?
JK: We’re looking to expand in Europe, the Middle and Far East. Our short-term vision is to become number one in second position… What I mean by this is that we are determined to be the most respected diamond services business in the industry, although we may not be the biggest for a few years yet.
We will focus on adding value to our customers’ businesses, helping them improve their margins and their sustainability. If there’s one word I’d say to describe our plans, it’s building TRUST across the diamond business to ultimately make us a successful sustainable industry providing products that are loved by Millennials and Generation Z alike.
Q. What educational services do you offer and what is the benefit of these to the industry?
JK: I think the importance of education can never be over stated …if you want to be more successful in life, educate yourself more and more.
The industry had some excellent educators up until 2005 but since then those people retired or simply changed focus. So, at the De Beers Group Institute of Diamonds we have developed a range of excellent new courses to help all those across the industry who are keen to gain more knowledge:
• Diamond Foundation Course: a perfect overview of the entire diamond pipeline for retail staff, or for those simply wishing to extend their current level of expertise into new areas.
• Introduction to the 4Cs Workshop: a one-day face-to-face workshop that focuses on giving students a hands-on practical application of the polished diamond 4Cs (after having completed their online course).
• Polished Diamond Grading Course: This course includes theory distance learning with the support of a tutor + a one-week laboratory course.
[The distance learning study uses detailed printed scientific textbooks and online tests that have been created by De Beers Group experts. The one-week laboratory course offers hands-on experience in the grading of polished diamonds with the maximum amount of time allocated to study the full range of De Beers training diamonds.]
• Synthetic Diamond Detection Course: a one-day course conducted by experts who provide a deep dive into this critical subject. Using the best research, insight and technology that De Beers Group has to offer, the course consists of a combination of theory and practical work.
For more information, please visit debeersgroupinstitute.com.