Professional Jeweler Archive: GE/POL Diamonds to Sell at Premium

April 2000


GE/POL Diamonds to Sell at Premium

Suggested retail will be about 5% over comparable prices for treated diamonds, and retailers intiially will get a wholesale discount too

GE/POL diamonds will hit the market with suggested retail prices about 5% over average prices of comparable untreated diamonds, Charles Meyer, Pegasus Overseas Ltd.’s new managing director, said in an interview with Professional Jeweler.

The rarity, purity and high-technology pedigree of the GE/POL diamonds warrant the premium, according to Bob Speisman of Lazare Kaplan International, POL’s parent. Speisman spoke at a Jewelers of America seminar at the JA International Jewelry Show in New York City in February.

Discounts Too

POL initially will sell the treated diamonds to retailers at prices about 15% below comparable natural diamond prices, Meyer said. This rewards jewelers who spend the time to explain the new product to the public, he told Professional Jeweler. The diamonds are mostly D-G with no fluorescence, VS1 or better with a premium cut and polish.

The company will sell colorless, greenish and yellow treated diamonds. Pink and blue can be achieved also, but much less frequently; they will not be marketed.

The treated diamonds will be introduced at summer trade shows, where POL will seek established retailers to carry them with a minimum order (yet to be determined).

Holiday test-marketing at jewelry stores such as Borsheim’s in Omaha, NE; Lester Lampert in Chicago, IL; and Jolly’s Inc. in Raleigh, NC, yielded positive reaction to the new product, Speisman said at the seminar. Stores selling the treated diamonds at about a 5% premium had higher dollar and unit sales than stores selling them at a discount. Consumers connected the premium price with the diamonds’ rarity and high-technology features, he said.

Duplicating Nature

At the seminar, Thomas R. Anthony, the General Electric senior research scientist who developed the treatment, said 40%-50% of GE/POL diamonds can’t be detected because GE can exactly duplicate the changes some diamonds undergo in nature. This makes it impossible to distinguish between natural diamonds and those artificially color-altered, Anthony said.

Detection indicators are possible on the remainder of the diamonds, according to a study conducted by the Gemological Institute of America, which published the results in its Fall 1999 Gems & Gemology. But these indicators can’t absolutely confirm the GE/POL treatment because some natural diamonds also exhibit them.

Anthony said the treatment takes “somewhere on the order of a day” to complete. The high-pressure/high-temperature treatment realigns lattice-like atom bonds that can become misaligned in what Meyer describes as “volcanic violence” while moving through the earth. A small misalignment of the bonds causes pink; a larger misalignment results in browns. The diamonds revert to more colorless grades when the bonds are realigned. The GE/POL treatment creates the conditions under which the diamonds revert to their original (more colorless) alignment.

The GE/POL treatment to make diamonds colorless works only on Type IIa diamonds because they contain no nitrogen or boron, which affect color, said Anthony. This differs from previous reports by experts who examined GE/POL gems and said they found other diamond types also.

– by Peggy Jo Donahue

Indicators such as the banded strain pattern the Gemological Institute of America detected on some GE/POL diamonds aren’t definitive, says a GE scientist, because they can appear also in natural diamonds.

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications