As with all industries, the diamond industry keeps evolving. One such evolution is synthetic diamonds. Despite the similar appearances of synthetic and natural diamonds, these are essentially different products with a very different value proposition. Fortunately, there are many effective Diamond Verification Instruments (DVI) on the market. Enter the brand new ASSURE lab of University Antwerp (UAntwerp), where DVIs are rigorously tested to ensure that the industry has access to objective data when selecting the best devices for them.
The ASSURE program is an initiative of the Natural Diamond Council (NDC). “Clear and accurate disclosure is essential to protecting consumer confidence, which is integral to our mission”, explains Raluca Anghel, head of external affairs and industry relations at the NDC. “This is the reason why the ASSURE program was originally developed and launched in 2019. Industry response has been overwhelmingly positive, which is why the NDC has continued to expand and enhance the program. We are very pleased to partner with UAntwerp on the opening of a second ASSURE laboratory, in addition to the lab in the United States.”
NDC was looking to open a second lab in Europe and the University of Antwerp put itself forward as a partner. “Antwerp is very much at the center of the global diamond trade market”, says Quinten Van Avondt (Valorisation Office, UAntwerp). “86 percent of rough diamonds and a significant proportion of processed diamonds are traded in the City by the Scheldt. At our university, we have the necessary expertise in the field of gemstones. For example, Prof. Koen Janssens (AXIS research team) has a close collaboration with the innovative diamond company HB Antwerp and Prof. Jan Sijbers, and Prof. Jan De Beenhouwer (imec-Visionlab research team) have developed technology that is used within the sector.”
According to Professor Koen Vandenbempt, who studies the business economics of the diamond industry and is also involved in this project, the presence of the lab is also important to the Antwerp diamond industry. “The ASSURE lab not only strengthens the current ecosystem, but it also allows for new valuable activities to be anchored in Antwerp. This is a necessary condition for continued innovation”, he concluded.
The UAntwerp candidacy convinced the NDC and the lab is fully operational as we speak.