DPA CEO Lieberherr Clarifies what makes a Diamond

Opinion piece
07/12/2017 11:48

Last month, The New York Times posted an article entitled “Atelier Swarovski Turns to Man-Made Gems”. Jean-Marc Lieberherr, CEO of the Diamond Producers Association, would call this an oxymoron. Gems by definition are not man-made, not to mention the fact that calling them such contradicts the standards of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). “The ISO [Standard 18323] states that “diamond” should always imply “natural diamond” and that synthetics cannot be called “diamonds” nor “gemstones.” The only permissible terms that may be used to describe a synthetic diamond are “synthetic diamond,” “laboratory-grown diamond” or “laboratory-created diamond,” and no abbreviations may be used. The use of words such as "man-made", "created" or "cultivated" can be considered deceptive.

Furthermore, on Swarovski’s website, the company claims that “created diamonds are identical to mined diamonds. They are 100% carbon and have the same hardness, brilliance and fire as natural mined diamonds. Only the origin is a laboratory, not the earth.” In Lieberherr’s view, diamonds and synthetics are not identical products that simply have different points of origin; nor are diamonds simply crystalized carbon. “Diamonds have fascinated generations with their natural origin, beauty, durability and value: finite, billion-year old gemstones. More than just chemicals, diamonds involve preciousness, authenticity and heritage.”

In his letter, Lieberherr writes “the diamond industry prioritizes transparency, with many mining companies including De Beers, Alrosa, Rio Tinto, and Dominion Diamonds featuring responsible provenance as a core trait. Synthetic manufacturers provide scant information about product origins or supply chain. Times and technology certainly change, but the inherent allure of a diamond does not.”