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1990: Diamond Industry’s Integrity Rests on Authentic Diamond Grading Certificates

November 1999

Most people feel that the Lazare Kaplan/GE heat– and pressure– treatment should be disclosed, but some people apparently keep trying to pull a fast one.

The GIA identified a GE-processed diamond that was submitted a second time to the Gem Trade Laboratory with its “GE POL” inscription removed, and has been re-cut a second time. All Pegasus diamonds are inscribed with “GE POL” on their girdles.

The diamond was first submitted for grading in April 1999 by Lazare Kaplan, with the requisite “GE POL” inscription. Six weeks later it was re-submitted to the Gem Trade Laboratory by a different client with its inscription polished off. It was immediately identified through its properties, the laboratory’s grading experience, and the operations and information management system Horizon. By then the diamond had been re-cut. The client authorized the GIA to re-inscribe the diamond with “GE POL.”

In late September, the same diamond was submitted to the GIA Gem Trade Laboratory and again it was identified as a Pegasus stone. The diamond had been re-cut again, and its second “GE POL” inscription had been completely removed.

“GIA has zero tolerance for any potential misrepresentation regarding disclosure of GE-processed ‘Pegasus’ diamonds,” cautioned William E. Boyajian, GIA’s president. “GIA will do its best to disallow the misrepresentation of ‘Pegasus’ diamonds and to help maintain the diamond industry’s foundation of integrity.”

LKI Changes Marketing Plan

Given all the problems—and bad publicity—that have arisen from Lazare Kaplan selling the Pegasus diamonds out of Antwerp, the company is changing its marketing strategy. It will now sell the stones directly to high-end retailers. By selling direct, there will be less intermediaries, and less chances for people in the pipeline to polish off the GE POL inscription.

Lazare Kaplan will also keep the diamonds off the market until January, and is considering changing the name from Pegasus.

GE recently confirmed to GIA scientists that the technique involves “heat and pressure,” or annealing, which most suspected. Their sales pitch: the treatment “finishes what nature started.” That may be true, but doesn’t that same logic also apply to synthetics? (And isn’t it the same as saying that a computer can paint a Picasso, and that no art critic could tell the difference?)

In any case, perhaps synthetic stones are GE’s ultimate aim. Pegasus stones do not seem like a big business: According to the GIA, only 800 stones have come through the lab, and most of them are smaller (the vast majority are under two carats) with a grayish tinge — hardly a big money item.

Maybe GE is just getting its feet wet. According to a report in New York Diamonds, GE executives asked a synthetic gem manufacturer to help them market synthetic diamonds. The Pegasus episode could just be a warm-up for the main event.  

GIA Finds Distinguishing Characteristics

GIA also released a preliminary report on the Pegasus stones in its fall Gems and Gemology magazine. Most of the diamonds are top color and clarity, type IIa, and fancy cuts.

GIA’s top scientists noted that the stones have several interesting features, including a slightly hazy appearance, with noticeable internal graining in many of them. These occurrences are more frequent than what is observed in unprocessed diamonds.

In addition, unusual cleavages or feathers and inclusions were noted — contrary to what’s been observed in most unprocessed diamonds. Although the moderate to strong strain patterns is similar to that seen in unprocessed diamonds, the strain colors are somewhat higher order than in similar unprocessed diamonds.

GIA has undertaken a program of experiments to better understand diamond de-coloration. In the past, GIA says it has found ways to change a diamond’s color by a heat-and-pressure method similar to what General Electric is using.

The fact that some of these stones are now identifiable, by GIA at least, is undoubtedly positive news and points to the fact that there will one day be a detection technique for the diamonds. At first, Lazare Kaplan and General Electric said these stone are “undetectable” and couldn’t be distinguishable from non-treated stones. But this news will make a lot of people in the trade breathe a lot easier — although one’s nerves can’t be fully at rest until a real detection technique is found.

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