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De Beers' Lightbox Lab-Grown Diamonds To Be Sold at Physical Stores of Bloomingdale's & Reeds Jewelers

De Beers' Lightbox Lab-Grown Diamonds To Be Sold at Physical Stores of Bloomingdale's & Reeds Jewelers


A lot of jewelry collectors may be familiar with De Beers, as the primary mining giant in the world of natural diamonds. Last May, the company shocked the world with its announcement of a direct-to-consumer subsidiary called 'Lightbox', which would sell laboratory-grown diamonds to consumers. This controversial move by the natural diamond trade's number one supplier, added to the concern of traders and buyers alike.



(Photography Credit: Lightbox Laboratory Grown Diamonds)

Now, De Beers is said to be partnering with retailers like Bloomingdale's, in an initiative to finally have its lab-grown counterpart; Lightbox, participate in brick-and-mortar jewelry showcases. This new move also comes with some uneasy reactions from the jewelry trade, which has already seen the natural diamond market flounder a bit this year, due to several factors including the trend of man-made diamonds rising to historical highs.

De Beers markets its Lightbox lab-grown diamonds as alternatives for less-formal purchasing reasons, such as gifts for sweet-sixteen birthday celebrants, debutantes, or even for everyday wear by teenagers and youngsters. This might be an effort to help the public understand the difference in current value between this class of product and natural mined diamonds. Chemically speaking, lab-grown diamonds are still diamonds with essentially the same chemical composition (carbon) and crystal structure (cubic) as natural counterparts. This makes most diamond testers that rely on older technology (like thermal testers or electric conductivity testers) virtually useless in separating the two. Advanced photoluminescence spectrometry, and other laboratory tests are needed for the verification of natural diamonds today. One might wonder if this new foray by De Beers is going to further affect the mindset of buyers into accepting lab-grown diamonds as potential jewelry gifts for their loved ones.

Lightbox's prices for its lab-grown diamonds are modest enough to say the least. An earring pair we've seen on their website shows a price of 1000 USD for a total carat weight of 1ct., which basically means two LG diamonds weighing about 0.50ct each. The company's message in pricing is clearly heard- lab-grown diamonds are cheaper, because they're a different class of product. They are still diamonds though, and therefore maintain price ranges well above any diamond imitation used today- such as cubic zirconia or moissanite.

While some people are learning to love lab-grown diamonds, especially in the Western countries, it's really up to the personal taste of a jewelry buyer as to whether or not this product is something that he or she would consider purchasing in place of a natural earth-mined gemstone.

In the following years to come, De Beers is said to have plans for a manufacturing facility located in Oregon that would be able to produce about 200,000 polished carats annually, which calculates to around $200 million worth of merchandise for selling. The complex may be estimated to cost about $94 million. Where will the diamond industry take it from here?
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Did You Know That Not All Sapphires are Blue?

Did You Know That Not All Sapphires are Blue?


While most likely known by a large population of jewelry collectors, not everyone is familiar with the fact that sapphires can actually come in a wide variety of colors. Let's start first with a little bit of basic chemistry- Aluminium oxide (Al2O3) that naturally crystallises in the trigonal atomic lattice system forms as a gem species properly called corundum. Now, corundum is not a word you would often hear while talking shop with socialites at parties, but within this gem species rests two of the most famous gem varieties in the world of colored gemstones- ruby and sapphire.



Ruby is actually red corundum, drawing its color from the presence of a trace element called Chromium. A few parts-per-million is enough to interact with the gemstone's chemistry to produce the red color widely coveted in the fine jewelry trade. Meanwhile, trace elements like iron and titanium can be responsible for producing a violetish-blue color, which results in the corundum specimen being designated to the blue sapphire variety.

Ruby and sapphire have very similar chemistry, with minuscule differences in the trace elements that create their differences in color. Sapphire though, is not always blue. While its bluish variety is indeed the most popular, sapphires can also come yellow, pink, green, purple, black, colorless and many other hues of the rainbow. Some of these hues may commonly occur in higher saturations than others. For example, violet-purple and green colored sapphires can appear grayish or muted in intensity, at least when compared to other gemstones of similar color (such as amethyst or emerald). All color of sapphire other than blue are grouped up and called 'fancy colored sapphires'.



The global gem market for sapphires is very diverse today. The biggest or most popular demand surges usually target blue sapphires, Padparadscha sapphires (pinkish-orange) and pink sapphires. Vivid yellowish sapphires are also commonly used, especially in seasonal tandem with the trendy color palettes governed by the fashion industry. Colorless sapphires (especially the lab-grown or synthetic versions) are sometimes utilised as diamond imitations as well, although their dispersion and brilliance are noticeably different from those of diamond.

Many sapphire colors are also produced by heating, or other more complicated enhancement procedures- like diffusing beryllium as a coloring agent into the stone's crystal lattice.

Also do keep in mind that synthetic corundum (lab-grown ruby and lab-grown sapphire) is a very common sight in today's jewelry marketplace. The flame-fusion process of creating man-made sapphire / synthetic sapphire is very widespread across many international manufacturers. Synthetic product can be created and sold at very low prices, as the creation technology (pioneered in the late 1800's) has grown accessible and affordable for many mid-scale entrepreneurs to get into.



Other similar creation methods, like the Czochralski process of growing crystal, are also being used today- not solely just for the jewelry industry, but also for military and industrial purposes as well. This is mainly due to corundum's high hardness (9) and general durability, as well as some of its other properties.
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The Constellation I, Unveiling The Largest D-Colored Emerald-Cut Diamond in the World

The Constellation I, Unveiling The Largest D-Colored Emerald-Cut Diamond in the World


Records as they say, are meant to be broken. The latest iteration of this quote has manifested via the unveiling of what people are now calling the largest graded D-color emerald-cut diamond on record.

The VVS clarity "Constellation 1", one of several stones fashioned from the famous 813ct Constellation rough diamond (pictured below), is now the current record holder of this esteemed title. The finished emerald-cut diamond weighs about 313 carats, and its cutting was the initiative project of Nemesis International in partnership with Swiss company de Grisogono- which originally purchased the stone for a bit over sixty three million dollars back in 2016.



After a period of 18 months spent on the careful examination of the original material's inclusions and their positions, Almas Diamond Services, sister company to Nemesis International, pushed through with the cutting process to achieve a 57% recovery rate on the stone.

Such rare diamonds are arriving on the international stage with great promise, especially during a time when the natural diamond industry has slowed globally due to several factors- such as lower demand from Chinese markets as observed during the September 2019 Hong Kong Jewellery Fair.

At the current time, Nemesis has no current plans yet to sell the diamond, expressing its intention to keep the final faceted stones together as a family, possibly sending them on tour as the miniature works of art that they are.
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Diamonds & Commonly Cut Faceting Styles

Diamonds & Commonly Cut Faceting Styles


Most diamond jewelry collectors are probably aware of the common cutting styles usually applied to their gemstones. The famous round brilliant cut is also most often the priciest among the modern-cut shapes, all things equally considered.

A round brilliant cut diamond consists of 57 to 58 facets. The last optional 58th facet would be the culet- a small polished facet at the pavilion point area. This was originally done to prevent point chipping, however larger culets are a lot less commonly seen on most newly cut round brilliants today.

A facet is a small polished surface. Brilliant cut diamonds are created with triangular or kite-shaped facets that cover the entire gemstone's surface. Facets allow us to better view the scintillation and brilliant beauty of a diamond, while providing us with many windows to look into its transparent body as well.



Emerald cut and Asscher cut diamonds are created with step-cut facets instead of brilliant facets. This means that their facets are usually four-sided shapes such as trapezoidal designs, rather than triangular. While some people prefer step-cuts for their diamonds, it all depends on the visual effect desired for the stone.



Brilliant cut stones, as the same suggests- show more sharp and numerous brilliant reflections. They also heighten color dispersion or 'fire' as most people term it. The round brilliant style is very specific in its ideal proportions, which is why different laboratories also assign a cut-grade to these stones, as a way of judging how well their cutting accentuates the gem's optical beauty.

Step-cut stones are often done on diamonds with very high clarity, as a way of visually showcasing the top-notch grade through an absence of inclusions. For colored stones on the other hand, a mix of brilliant and step-cut facets is preferred by many. This style is what's referred to as a mixed-cut. More often than not, mixed cuts use a brilliant cut crown with a step-cut pavilion. The latter helps to save weight from the raw crystal.

The term mixed-cut though can also refer to other combinations of faceting styles. Combined with the current diversity of shape choices, the gemstone industry actually has a very wide array of gem cutting designs to suit anyone's personal taste and preference.

You would almost never see a standard-sized diamond cut in a mixed-cut style because it just doesn't bode as well with diamond's optical properties, as the traditional full-brilliant cuts do.



Specific angles and facet placements are needed to direct light from the stone, back into your eyes in the form of brilliance and sparkle. Light leakage can occur if the diamond is either too shallow or too deep, resulting in either a watery-looking effect with grayish girdle reflections, or a darkened center area known as extinction.

The round brilliant style has been very popular for several decades now, despite newer more proprietary cuts coming into the market. Some diamonds are even cut with over 200 small facets to create a novel appeal.
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Our Team Attending the Mid-September Hong Kong Jewelry and Gem Fair 2019

Our Team Attending the Mid-September Hong Kong Jewelry and Gem Fair 2019


Our gemological team will be attending events by De Beers Institute of Diamonds and talks by the Gemological Institute of America this September in Hong Kong til' the 24th of this month.

Three global jewellery shows are held annually in Hong Kong (in March, June and September), and the international trade often congregates here to do business, discuss and learn about new trends and challenges in the jewellery and gem industry. Our staff will undergo further collaborative development programs with De Beers in the field of lab-grown diamond analysis, as well as conduct Gemcamp's independent research on faceted coloured stones and diamonds currently in circulation.



Our main purpose would be for research and developmental programs. Networking and trend analysis are also key objectives for us this event. (*Gemcamp Laboratories is a third-party evaluator, and does not engage in any commercial buying or selling of gemstones. Neither do we recommend or discourage trade from any particular person, company or group.)

For any and all of our colleagues / visitors from the Philippines who will be in Hong Kong as well during this industry worldwide event, please stay safe and informed. The situation in Hong Kong may still involve some protests and rallies around the areas of Wan Chai and Mong Kok. We wish everyone a good show, and safe travels.

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