Professional Jeweler Archive: GE/POL Diamonds Reach Showcases

February 2000

Diamonds/News


GE/POL Diamonds Reach Showcases

Color-enhanced diamonds are offered at a slight discount


GE/POL diamonds made their consumer debut at the beginning of the holiday season in Borsheim’s, the jewelry superstore in Omaha, NE.

Borsheim’s became the first store to offer the color-enhanced diamonds to consumers, introducing them under the brand name Monarch. The store sells the diamonds at a slight discount from otherwise comparable diamonds, says President Susan Jacques, G.G., F.G.A. “I believe the main reason for a customer to purchase this is a price incentive,” she says. “I don’t feel a customer would be willing to pay a premium – not our customers. We look at this purely as an option for customers.”

The proprietary process was developed by General Electric; the diamonds are distributed by POL, a subsidiary of Lazare Kaplan International, New York City.

Included with each GE/POL diamond at Borsheim’s is a consumer brochure explaining it was subjected to high heat and high pressure to enhance the color. Also included is a warranty card indicating the diamond was processed and engraved. The card also states the GE/POL diamond has the same properties as an untreated diamond, including irreversible color.

“This is why it’s called ‘processed’ rather than ‘treated,’” says Liz Chatelain of MVI Marketing, communications liaison for GE/POL in the United States. “The word ‘treated’ implies something has been added or subtracted, while the word ‘process’ puts the diamond into its natural environment with nothing added or subtracted. In this case, nothing has been added or subtracted.”

Jacques disagrees. “We say it has undergone a specific type of process that altered the color. I call it a treatment,” she says, “though I think in the consumer’s mind there’s no difference between treatment and process.” Borsheim’s produced its own brochure with an extensive explanation of various treatments, including color enhancement and GE/POL (go on-line at www.borsheims.com to see a copy of the brochure).

The words “treated” and “processed” are at the center of an industry controversy over GE/POL diamonds. The Jewelers Vigilance Committee and many gemological experts say GE/POL diamonds should be disclosed as a treatment. But GE asked the FTC to exempt GE/POL diamonds from a proposed revision to the FTC Guides for the Jewelry Industry requiring disclosure, saying the procedure falls into the same category as routine manufacturing processes. JVC Executive Director Cecilia Gardner asked the FTC to disregard GE’s request because applying “heat and high pressure is hardly a routine step in the diamond manufacturing process.”

Meanwhile, Chatelain says Monarch may not be the final name for the GE/POL diamonds. “GE held a focus group and the name Monarch rated high,” she says Chatelain. “But a lot of tweaking will happen, maybe even the name.”

Chatelain said the test program for the diamonds will be limited to a few key stores throughout the country and that when the full roll-out occurs, 30 to 50 stores will carry the diamonds.

–by Jack Heeger


Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications