The Fight Over a Filler
Oved Diamond says it invented a heat-resistant fracture filling. Its competitor cries foul, and both go looking for a referee
Nothing irks a manufacturer more than a competitor introducing a new product that has the potential to upset his business. Earlier this year, Oved Diamond Co., New York City, announced a glass filling that is resistant to damage by the jeweler's torch (Professional Jeweler, July 2000, pp. 25-26). Almost immediately, Yehuda Diamond Co., New York City, tried to refute the claims.
In ads, Oved said its XL-21 formula glass filler can endure the high temperatures encountered in repair or mounting and emerge unchanged. Yehuda called the claim bogus. It also said the disparity between the refractive index of the filler and the diamond are so great that areas of filler would appear unsightly.
Both companies waited for the results of a study performed by the Gemological Institute of America. The report, deemed a "preliminary study," was released in the Summer 2000 Gems & Gemology, GIA's quarterly publication. GIA's message about the filler's durability was mixed, and critics say the study makes divergent statements:
"Durability testing on a small number of these [Oved XL-21] treated diamonds indicates this filler is more stable to conditions of normal jewelry repair, such as direct heating with a torch, than the material produced by the Goldman-Oved Co. a decade ago." [Goldman Diamond Co. says its partnership with Oved ended in 1999.]
"Nevertheless we recommend that care be taken with all filled diamonds and, in particular, that all diamonds identified as containing a filler should be removed from the setting when a repair procedure requires heat."
GIA's advice about removing a diamond before using heat in a repair constitutes a recommendation for anyone working with jewelry containing any diamond filler.
Interpretation of Study Varies
Four out of eight of the diamonds with XL-21 subjected to durability testing suffered "minor damage," while four had "no visible damage." Dror Yehuda, president of Yehuda Diamond Co., says "minor" damage is still damage. "For that reason," he says, "the Oved ads are misleading."
But Oved seems confident of its product. A new ad says Oved will give customers a 10% larger and better diamond if they see damage to the treatment of any XL-21-treated diamond under 10X magnification or with the naked eye.
GIA is unambiguous about the durability improvement over older Goldman-Oved fillers, and Jonathon Oved, president of Oved Diamond, says his formulas undergo steady refinements.
GIA based its conclusions on a study of 18 Oved diamonds treated with XL-21 and, for comparison, four older Goldman-Oved diamonds. Toward the end of the study, Yehuda submitted five diamonds filled with its own heat-resistant formula, which isn't used commercially. Yehuda reportedly also submitted seven Oved diamonds obtained from a third party. GIA says it couldn't subject the diamonds Yehuda submitted to all tests performed on the original 18, though it did report about durability problems on two.
Jonathan Oved says GIA's methodology is questionable. "GIA should not have mentioned the test results of these stones because of its stated time constraints," he says. "There is no basis for comparison between products given that type of methodology."
Meanwhile, Yehuda Diamond Co. says its position has been vindicated. "The product is not torch-proof as they claimed," says Dror Yehuda. "Why would any customer play Russian roulette by submitting stones to a jeweler's torch?"
Oved remains optimistic. "I feel confident more customers will leap on board as they begin to feel more comfortable about XL-21," he says. "The market will be the ultimate referee of XL-21."
Robert Weldon, G.G.
A trio of diamonds containing the XL-21 enhancement by Oved Diamond Co., New York City. Photo by Robert Weldon