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October 1999


Diamond Hot Buttons

Presidents of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses draft resolutions on the disclosure of color– altered diamonds

Two issues captured the greatest attention at the Presidents' Meeting of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses in Moscow in July. Disclosing diamond color alterations, such as GE POL diamonds, was the most emotional issue – and the one that resulted in a unanimous set of resolutions requiring disclosure (see "WFDB Resolutions" for the full text).

Members also focused on diamond branding by De Beers. Resolutions regarding this issue were not as forthcoming. The rift between De Beers and many diamantaires seems to have widened. "We are on record as having laid out our objections to De Beers' branding and downstreaming policies," said Eli Haas, a WFDB vice president and president of the Diamond Dealers Club of New York City (see "The Branding Fire,").

Price Uptick
While the atmosphere at the meeting was tense because of concerns about disclosure and branding, cautious optimism was apparent also, said attendees. For example, the presidents acknowledged diamond prices have stabilized worldwide and have even increased because of De Beers' policy of regulating the delicate supply balance and the price structure. The U.S. was singled out as the most powerful and influential diamond market, though improving demand in Asian countries was credited also with helping to shore up prices.

Disclosure Discussions
Leon and Maurice Tempelsman of Lazare Kaplan International, New York City, attended the meeting to answer questions about selling GE POL diamonds through LKI's subsidiary Pegasus Overseas Ltd. GE POL diamonds are subjected to a secret whitening process. Leon Tempelsman, LKI president, defended the decision, saying the diamond business has been insulated from technological advances that will shape the business in the years to come.

"Technology is a fact of life and there is no turning back," he said. "The question is how to deal with new technologies." He argued LKI and Pegasus have done everything possible to disclose all information about the new process – which was developed by General Electric – without revealing proprietary information (see "Templesman's View," p. 32).

Privately, several dealers mentioned that an unknown and unsubstantiated procedure to whiten diamonds had been rumored in the trade for almost a decade. Delegates took the opportunity to discuss all color– changing diamond treatments, including heating and irradiation. Identification issues were discussed as well.

The next World Diamond Congress will be held July 16– 19 in Antwerp, Belgium.

by Robert Weldon,G.G.

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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