Diamonds : News
GIA Gets Confirmation from GE
High-temperature, high-pressure treatment is involved in
GE POL enhanced-color diamonds
General Electric partially unlocked the secret of its GE POL
diamonds in late September by confirming to the Gemological Institute
of America that the diamonds' color is improved in a high-temperature,
Researchers at GIA have been studying GE POL diamonds for
several months trying to learn about the process, further details
of which remain proprietary.
The diamonds are distributed by Pegasus Overseas Ltd., a subsidiary
of Lazare Kaplan International, New York City. In an effort to
avert worries, LKI announced in March it would offer the diamonds.
But the secretiveness of the process raised concerns and yielded
speculation on what it involves. "This effectively closes
the door on the notion that a deep-cleaning mechanism is involved,
at least as fully as we understand the process at this time,"
says GIA President Bill Boyajian.
Though GE confirmed GIA's suspicion that high-temperature,
high-pressure is involved, Boyajian is reluctant to use the word
"treatment" to describe the process. "We are trying
to remain neutral, though we believe the industry will label
this a treatment. But it is not part of normal processing as
we know it; for example, as we understand processing in the bleaching
or cleaning of a pearl. We are entering new territory, and GIA
has to research and understand more."
GE Petitions FTC
Meanwhile, GE asked the FTC to refrain from imposing disclosure
requirements on undetectable gem alterations such as GE POL.
It made the request during the comment period on proposed amendments
to the FTC Guides Guides for the Jewelry Industry. The FTC's
proposal would require disclosure of all treatments that significantly
affect a gem's value. At GIA's International Gemological Symposium
in June, Martin Rapaport, publisher of the Rapaport Diamond Report,
said the few GE POL diamonds then on the market were selling
for about 15% less than unprocessed diamonds of comparable grade.
If price discrepancies continue, the FTC's proposed change would
require disclosure of the GE POL process.
In its letter to the FTC, however, GE argues "it's far
too early to predict whether a price differential, if any, would
be 'substantial'" or to tell how "the marketplace will
ultimately judge the value of GE-processed diamonds."
Pegasus has agreed to have GIA laser-inscribe "GE POL"
on the girdle of each processed diamond, and GE says this is
a show of good faith about full disclosure. GE also says the
FTC already has the authority to prosecute sellers who try to
erase the GE POL mark. "Even were such an erasure to go
undetected ... a consumer would not be exposed to a 'laser-drilling'
type of injury," GE says. Because neither consumers nor
jewelers who may buy back stones can detect the GE process as
they would a laser-drilled diamond, a GE POL diamond won't cause
financial loss, so the usual inequity between a consumer and
a knowledgeable expert doesn't exist, it says.
Among GE's revealing statements in the letter
is a description of the GE POL process: "The process, conducted
before final cutting and polishing, complements the many other
physical processing steps to which a diamond is customarily subjected
in its transformation from a rough diamond at the mine to a finished
product." A footnote adds:
"There are many other processes that are performed in
the manufacture of ... gem diamonds or gemstones that are taken
for granted, without disclosure to the consumer. These include
so-called 'green skin' removal and acid boiling ... no one is
advocating routine disclosures for these types of processes,
detectable or not. The GE process is much more akin to these
routine manufacturing steps than to laser drilling or the other
detectable treatments on which comment was requested."
by Peggy Jo Donahue and Robert Weldon
||"The GE process is much more akin to ...
routine manufacturing steps than to laser drilling..."
Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.