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 Borsheims, the jewelry superstore in Omaha, NE.
Borsheims 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 dont 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 Borsheims 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 its 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 consumers mind theres no difference between treatment and process. Borsheims 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 GEs 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