“Where is my diamond from?” This is a question that clients often ask us. Knowing the mine that your diamond is from, has, until now, been virtually impossible. (Unless you dug it out of the ground yourself!). Unlike some sapphires, there is nothing in the way a diamond looks or its structure that helps us identify the region that it has come from. There is a quite a process that a diamond goes through before it ends up on your finger as an engagement ring. This process makes tracing the origin of the diamond especially difficult.
Diamonds Are Bought And Sold in International Markets
When mined, diamonds are in a rough, uncut crystal form. They are sold in this form into the rough diamond trade markets to the top 100 Diamond Trading Council (DTC) sightholders. All diamonds must be Kimberly Process compliant. DeBeers pretty much controls the DTC. It is by invitation only to become a member of the DTC. DTC sightholders are big diamond traders that often have government backing.
Diamonds from various mines are mixed and sorted into lots to be sold to participating cutters at the “Sight”. This is a viewing of uncut diamonds that happens five times a year. The DTC participants must purchase the diamonds being presented to them. DTC sightholders may cut and polish the diamonds themselves. Or they may on-sell the rough diamond to other non DTC diamond cutters.
Once cut, a cutter may submit the stone to the GIA or other grading laboratories for certification. The trade then buys them through an international polished diamond market. A stone may be bought and sold a number of times before it is bought at the retail level. The number of times that a stone changes hands means where a diamond comes from is virtually impossible to trace.
The GIA “Mine to Market” Diamond Tracking App
This is something that the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is seeking to address with its new Mine to Market (M2M) service. The service is available to participating diamond manufacturing companies, so not all companies will choose to participate. The process involves the company submitting the rough diamond to the GIA, along with the documentation accompanying the diamond. The GIA then analyses the morphology, spectroscopy and crystal growth structure. Once complete, the GIA issues the diamond with a serial number. Once cut, the cutter re-submits the stone to the GIA together with it’s serial number. The information the GIA collates is an app that the consumer can access. The app includes GIA certificate reports and photos and videos of the diamond.
The system relies on the supply of the correct documentation to the GIA. And whilst the cut diamond can be analysed against the recorded characteristics of the rough, the system is certainly not fool proof. As Matt Crimmin, the GIA Vice President of Laboratory Operations said “If you just give me any polished diamond, I can’t tell you what mine it came from.”
What it is though, is an attempt by the GIA to offer consumers more information about the source of their stone. It is a great idea. And I guess it is a nice thing to know just how this beautiful bit of crystallised carbon has ended up on your finger. But the fact that this information will soon be available on some diamonds isn’t something that should affect your decision about whether the stone you are considering is a good one or not. There are far more important things to consider in great diamond selection than what particular part of the planet it came from.
Many thanks to the article in Jeweller Magazine “New GIA Service Traces Diamond’s Origin” for the information in this blog