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In 2012, More Than 600 Diamonds in a Single Parcel Submitted to IGI were Found Out to be Man-Made / Lab-Grown Stones.

In 2012, More Than 600 Diamonds in a Single Parcel Submitted to IGI were Found Out to be Man-Made / Lab-Grown Stones.


We're re-reading an interesting throwback article from JCK Magazine 12' (linked here) that details how according to an IGI Trade Alert, CVD grown man-made diamonds were sent or submitted to their facilities in Antwerp and Mumbai. The person who submitted the stones had no idea that the parcel contained over 600 artificially grown diamonds. He thought that they were natural, and mentioned that he had originally paid for them under the impression that they were natural, earth-mined diamonds.



While laboratories with advanced spectrometry instruments can differentiate between natural and lab-grown diamonds. Normal gemological tools like microscopes, loupes, refractometers and the like- are not enough to make the separation anymore. *Gemcamp Laboratories make use of these advance spectrometry-based detectors to properly separate natural diamonds from their man-made counterparts.

Here in the Philippines, most people we've come across, still believe that the pen-type diamond testers (diamond thermal testers and moissanite testers) are enough for their protection, but the fact remains that these two instrument types CANNOT differentiate between a man-made diamond and a natural diamond. This is clear, because of the fact that both natural and man-made diamonds are made up of carbon that crystalizes in the cubic crystal lattice system. Lab grown diamonds have the same thermal conductivity and electrical conductivity as natural diamonds. From the best that we can tell, our country's view towards protection against diamond fraud is unsurprisingly behind.

Lab-grown or man-made diamonds at the wholesale level (from what we personally observed during international jewelry trade fairs) are about 40 to 60% cheaper than natural counterparts. At the retail level, most seem to sell them about 30% cheaper than naturals. This big price difference alone should be a good enough reason for society to be cautious against mismatched stones.



Pictured above is a stunning CVD Lab-grown diamond. Despite the negative attachment that circulates around undisclosed stones, the trade applauds man-made stones that are sold honestly and ethically.

Lab-grown diamonds are beautiful products in their own rights, and chemically speaking they are in fact diamonds. The problem only lies when a lab-grown stone is fraudulently sold to someone under the representation of a natural stone.

Some people even try to sell man-made stones with original reports from many gemological laboratories. They have a natural stone checked properly with a lab, and then take that report and use it for advertising a similar-looking lab-grown diamond of the same carat weight or size. While gemological laboratories can verify if a stone matches a specific report if someone comes in to check it, they have no liability or control over the external actions of potentially fraudulent individuals with regards to what they do after acquiring a report document.

Here is a link to an article about a man-made stone fraudulently sold as a natural diamond, by trying to misrepresent it with GIA report information for a different stone.

The synthetic stone was fraudulently inscribed with a falsified laser inscription that pointed to a GIA report for another stone (a natural diamond). This practice is often called stone swapping or stone switching, wherein people try to use an original lab report to fraudulently sell an item that is not the one described on the report. GIA's laboratory obviously did not play any part in this, as they cannot possibly monitor what each and every client does with the reports they have commissioned. We believe that they do however (like most laboratories) encourage verification of reports with their laboratory first before trusting a potential seller. Protect yourself from stone-swapping scandals by verifying your item with the corresponding laboratory listed on the report first. Make sure the report isn't fake or invalidated, and then lastly be sure that the item or stone on your report is exactly the one you're being sold by asking the issuing laboratory.
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Chinese Company Buys 80% of the International Gemological Institute (IGI) for 108.8 Million Dollars

Chinese Company Buys 80% of the International Gemological Institute (IGI) for 108.8 Million Dollars


Here in the Philippines, we often hear about China's rapid expanse into many trade sectors and industries. The current worldwide setting doesn't seem to differ much in terms of our own industry as well. Recently a Chinese company called Shanghai Yuyuan Tourist Mart, a division of Shanghai-based Fosun Group, had just acquired the majority ownership (80%) of IGI.


IGI or the International Gemological Institute has long been revered as one of the top 4 gemological institutions in the world, with branches spanning across several countries. What does this partnership / acquisition mean for the gemstone and diamond industry? Is China making new headway into the realm of gemological sciences?

IGI and GIA both offer a graduate gemologist education path. We likewise do not yet know what the former's plans are regarding the topic of academics and learning, or any changes that may take place within their proprietary system. With a strong foothold in the industry of evaluating gemstones, a lot of people in the west depend on IGI for their jewelry-verification procedures.


(Photography Image Credit to IGI & Fosun Group)

We remain neutral towards this news, but- with regards to China's foray into gemology, we hope it will be met with good ethics and proper disclosure (transparency). The overall collaborative development of the science and its research programs, may benefit all laboratories around the world.

In the country, Gemcamp Laboratories provide gemstone grading and identification services similar to how many of these labs operate in other countries. Our gemologists however, completed their studies at GIA, rather than IGI, but are still familiar with the latter's contribution to the global gemological field.
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Examining Diamond Jewelry at Our Metro Manila Laboratory

Examining Diamond Jewelry at Our Metro Manila Laboratory


Pavé-set diamonds are often a target for 'mixing', especially with all the talk of synthetic and imitation diamonds circulating around today. The laboratory makes use of luminescence spectroscopy technology to distinguish natural diamonds from man-made diamonds (lab-grown CVD, HPHT diamonds) and also from simulants (moissanite, cubic zirconia). We were granted permission by a visiting client, to photograph her ring atop a pre-fold report. She noted that the piece had been bought from hong kong, and she was worried of laboratory grown stones being mixed into the original parcel.



In the past, she had brought a previous suite of channel-set earrings and a ring, that were sold as natural (earth-mined) diamonds. Upon spectrometric testing, these were all distinguished to be man-made diamonds grown using the HPHT process. A few of the stones possessed globular metallic flux as well, which are known remnants of the procedure.



Thankfully, this time around, her pavé set ring (purchased from another seller) had been thoroughly checked, with all stones passing as Type 1a natural diamonds. The past two months has seen an increase in visitors who bring in lab-grown diamonds for testing, under the assumption that these items were natural. Both lab-grown diamonds and natural diamonds currently have a high price rate, but valuations of each are not the same. Man-made diamonds have been observed to cost about 30% cheaper at the retail level compared with natural diamonds. At the loose-stone, wholesale and dealer levels, we have met with people pricing their lab-grown diamonds at 40-60% lower than natural counterparts.




Gemcamp neither buys nor sells gemstones or gem-set jewelry. We merely check stones and give our opinion on the current markets. Lab-grown diamonds are very elegant gemstones in their own right, and are appreciated by millions of jewelry collectors around the world as well. Because though of different valuations, it is important to ethically disclose the sale of a lab-grown diamond as such, and not as a natural stone (which would be fraudulent).




Our visitor expressed her concern that future purchases abroad may also contain lab-grown stones, as these are almost always impossible to distinguish with a loupe alone.

The reception of lab-grown diamonds here in the Philippines, is still quite mixed at the current time. Laboratories like Gemcamp neutrally test all faceted stones brought to us (loose or mounted into jewelry) in front of their owners, for better peace of mind.
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Crystal Opal, A Curious Galaxy of Colors

Crystal Opal, A Curious Galaxy of Colors


Opal has long been widely known for its play-of-color, with the most famous variety being the black opal specimens that arise from Lightning Ridge in Australia. Flashes of different colors come alive in the best examples of this fine gemstone, however with all the different variants of opal circulating around, not everyone is familiar with one of its most curious forms.



Crystal opal can be whitish or blackish, or somewhere in between. It's sometimes called water opal or jelly opal and tends to transmit more light through its body compared to other varieties. Crystal opal can have similar standard play-of-color, but some specimens exhibit a display of spectral hues as light travels through the crystal mass itself. We call these stones contra-luz opals.

Andamooka in South Australia is one of the major producers of crystal opal and other varieties. Australia's dry and arid desert lands provided the ideal place for precious opal to form. The country is very famous for its opal deposits, and also produces another popular gem- blue sapphire, in certain parts of its territory.



Crystal opal's vivid play-of-color has been likened to the beauty of galaxies and kaleidoscopes. They say an opal displaying the full range of color can cost significantly more than those that show only the most common hues (blue or green). Red is the most desired hue for most people. Large patches of flashing color are also more in demand than patterns of spots and specks (pinfire), although the beauty of the phenomenon also lies in its diversity of arrangements and visual appeals.




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Kyanite May Look Like Blue Sapphire, but These are Very Different Gemstones

Kyanite May Look Like Blue Sapphire, but These are Very Different Gemstones


Although an entirely different species of mineral, Kyanite's usually medium-dark bluish bodycolors often resemble those of blue sapphire. In several markets across the world, many jewelry buyers often mistake one for the other. Experienced jewellers and gemologists however, can make use of a simple jewelry loupe to help them get a better grasp of what it is they are buying.
Kyanite tends to come with a lot of natural inclusions, even in mid-to-high market qualities. This can be a good thing and a bad-thing. On one hand, it helps gemologists separate this natural gem species from imitations like synthetic blue spinel, synthetic corundum and blue glass. On the other hand, some people automatically assume that a blue stone is sapphire if it shows very natural-looking fingerprint and crystal inclusions. Kyanite, just like sapphire can also be very strongly color-zoned.



In rough form, they can look very different. The main confusion for most people usually lies in separating faceted stones or polished cabochons set into jewelry. A little experience goes a long way though, and it's quite possible to find visual signs that can guide you in separating these two gemstones.

Kyanite as a mineral, possesses multiple planes of atomic weakness called cleavage planes. This property makes it easier for a stone to split in certain directions, and poses some threat to durability. You can sometimes observe this by looking at existing chips or fractures on a stone's girdle. Step-like fractures can indicate the presence of cleavage directions. Additionally, jewellers need to be more careful and pay extra attention when setting faceted kyanite onto mountings.


Sapphire does not possess any cleavage direction, and has a superior hardness of 9 on the Moh's scale, compared to Kyanite's direction-based hardness range of 4-7. This means that it can take a sharper and clearer polish on its facets as well.

Kyanite is much more affordable than sapphire, and can resemble the latter very strongly in color and internal profile. Commercial qualities though can show some colorless areas right next to blue zones of color. When these zonal areas are very strong and are arranged in certain positions, they can be a visual indication of the stone's identity for an experienced gem buyer.

Inclusions, fractures and color zones seem to have a tendency for parallel or 'striped' positioning in many kyanite specimens. Perpendicular elongated inclusions are also quite a common sight in many stone samples. Although despite visual characteristics being very helpful, the clear way to separate kyanite from blue sapphire is by testing for gemological properties like refractive index. This is a standard procedure for this separation, easily accomplished by a gemological laboratory.


Gemologists and labs can easily separate faceted kyanite from sapphire, as well as make the distinction between the latter and its man-made counterpart; synthetic sapphire.

Other possible confusions are tanzanite, synthetic forsterite, man-made blue spinel, blue glass, assembled triplet stones, iolite and other blue gemstone species. Each of these are valued differently in the gem trade, and it's always best to consult with a third-party gemologist on all matters of gemstone identity, grading and treatment history.

You can read more about blue sapphires and initial ways of separating it from more common imitations by reading one of our previous posts on the issue.

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