February 9, 2000
GE/POL To Retail for 10% Premium
Pegasus Overseas Ltd. will market its treated GE/POL diamonds at suggested retail prices about 10% over average retail prices of comparable non-treated diamonds. Charles Meyer, POL's new U.S. managing director, made that announcement during Jewelers of America seminars at the JA International Jewelry Show in New York City.
The premium is warranted due to the gems' rarity, purity and high-technology pedigrees, added Bob Speisman of Lazare Kaplan International, the parent of POL. However, POL will sell the gems to retailers at prices discounted by about 15% from comparable natural diamond prices, Meyer said.
Early next week, Meyer and Speisman will reveal the results of their holiday test-marketing at jewelers such as Borsheim's, Omaha, NE. Not one consumer had a negative reaction to the new product, they said at the seminar. Also, stores that sold the treated diamonds at a premium ended up having higher dollar and unit sales than stores that sold them at a discount. The premium price attracted consumers to the rarity and high-technology factors the company hopes to promote, they said.
The company will sell colorless and greenish treated diamonds. General Electric, which developed the treatment, also can manipulate the structure of natural diamonds to produce yellow, pink and blue, but these colors occur much less frequently and will not be marketed.
Thomas R. Anthony, a GE scientist who helped develop the GE/POL treatment, announced at the seminar that 40%-50% of GE/POL diamonds can't be detected, because GE can duplicate perfectly the changes some diamonds naturally undergo on their journey to the earth's surface. This makes it impossible to distinguish between diamonds naturally and artificially color-altered, Anthony said.
Detection "signatures" are possible on the remainder of the diamonds, as detailed in a recent study conducted by the Gemological Institute of America (Gems & Gemology, Fall 1999). This is due to unavoidable markers the GE/POL treatment leaves in certain diamonds, said Anthony.
Anthony said the treatment takes "somewhere in the order of a day" to complete. He said the high-pressure, high-temperature treatment realigns lattice-like atom bonds that can become misaligned as a diamond hits boulders and debris while moving through the earth. A small misalignment of the bonds causes pink colors; a large misalignment results in browns. The diamonds revert to more colorless grades when the bonds are realigned. Many diamonds experience the bond realignment on their own, but the GE/POL treatment forces the realignment to occur in other diamonds.
Anthony reaffirmed the treatment to make diamonds colorless works best on Type IIa diamonds because they do not contain nitrogen or boron, both of which affect color.
- by Peggy Jo Donahue