Industry Speculates About New Process
Lazare Kaplan and Pegasus Overseas Ltd. announce a new product. Only
they won't say what it is
A guessing game has been in full swing since early March when Pegasus
Overseas Ltd., a subsidiary of Lazare Kaplan International, New York City,
announced a mystery process that improves the "color, brilliance and
brightness of qualifying diamonds."
Pegasus, LKI and General Electric, inventor and owner of the patented
process, will say only that it enhances certain characteristics of select
natural gemstone diamonds. Pegasus spokesman Gus Weill says the companies
want to protect their process. He also says the process doesn't have to
be disclosed because unlike most others that improve a diamond's appearance,
it doesn't change a diamond's all-natural content.
A Pegasus press release says: "The technique is permanent and irreversible,
and it does not involve treatments such as irradiation, laser drilling,
surface coating or fracture-filling."
What is it then? That's what the industry has been speculating about.
Martin Haske of Adamas Gemological Laboratory in Brookline, MA, says that
if the process doesn't reduce the diamond's all-natural content, that leaves
- The diamonds might be annealed (heated) to improve their color in a
process similar to those developed by Sumitomo and GE. But this would apply
only to type 1B diamonds (the goal of annealing type 1B diamonds is to
reduce their yellow component). "This would be prohibitively expensive,"
he says. (Reference Patents 4124690 and 4174380 at www.patents.ibm.com.)
- A deep-cleaning technique could reduce or eliminate microscopic amounts
of oxidation or radiation stains on a diamond's skin, perhaps even in feathers
and other surface-reaching fractures. "Interestingly, GE registered
a patent for a wet chemical process to remove oxides and dirt from deep
cracks in airfoils in the aerospace industry," says Haske. "It
employs a caustic organic mix of chemicals that, combined with an autoclave,
deep-cleans metals. The patent doesn't mention diamonds, but I believe
it could be used for diamonds." (Reference Patent 5685917 at www.patents.ibm.com.)
Dr. Ilene Reinitz of the Gemological Institute of America's Gem Trade
Laboratory, says Pegasus submitted a few samples for testing but declined
to describe the process. "We could not help noticing that one word
conspicuous in its absence [in the Pegasus press release] is the word heat."
The heating theory has one strike against it in addition to the expense.
It wouldn't improve brilliance, as the press release says the process does,
according to Dr. Ken Scarratt, director of the AGTA Gemological Testing
Center in New York City. "However, if feathers and other inclusions
in these diamonds are found to be 'squeaky clean,'" he says, "that
might point to a cleaning technique."
Speculation regarding the process led to this stark statement by GIA
President William Boyajian: "It's usual for GIA to be consulted well
in advance by firms involved in gemstone treatments. Due to such scant information,
GIA has yet to discover any conclusive evidence to identify this treatment.
"The specific process is GE's business. But the ability to identify
the treatment and ultimately to identify diamonds treated by the process
is the diamond industry's business. If diamonds are treated in any way,
then the trade has a right to know and ultimately so does the consumer.
The integrity of the industry is at stake."
by Robert Weldon, G.G.
Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.