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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 identify and separate the vast majority of natural diamonds (type 1aAB) from man-made diamonds (lab-grown CVD, HPHT diamonds), simulants (moissanite, cubic zirconia), and other rarer types of diamond (2a). 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, Short-wave UV evaluation, microscopy testing under crossed polars and other applicable tests at the time, these were all distinguished to be man-made diamonds grown via the HPHT process. A few of the stones possessed very characteristic globular metallic flux as well, which are known remnants of the HPHT growth procedure.

Thankfully, this time around, her pavé set ring (purchased from another seller) had been thoroughly checked, with all stones passing as Type 1aAB natural diamonds. The past two months has seen an increase in visitors who bring in potentially 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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