In a world where technological and scientific innovations come at an increasingly rapid rate, facing the future can bring both excitement and apprehension. Think, for instance, of the debates around transparency and ethics triggered by genetic modification.
Similarly, the fine jewelry industry today finds itself needing to develop new protocols and guidelines for discussing lab-grown diamonds. Some purveyors of synthetic diamonds claim that their stones, created in a lab, are "more ethical" than natural mined diamonds, marketing claim that does not reflect the reality of the thriving fair-trade diamond business.
In addition to accuracy in marketing statements, full disclosure and traceability must drive the conversation around man-made diamonds, with the main goal being one of accountability and protection of buyers' investments. "An even more fundamental issue is one of proper identification and transparency of the product itself," says gem expert Bill Boyajian, who is a graduate gemologist, former president of the Gemological Institute of America, and founder and CEO of Bill Boyajian & Associates, Inc.
The jewelry industry has been forced to contend with look-alike diamond imitations since time immemorial. Today, to facilitate greater transparency, some leaders in the gem industry have begun to advance tools that pave the way for a new paradigm. "For example, Gabriel & Co. has maintained a serialized tracking system for all of its fine diamond jewelry pieces," Boyajian says.
Just as the Kimberley Process protects the integrity of an ethically compliant supply chain, companies that manufacture and sell lab-grown diamonds-all the way through to the retail jewelers that display them in their showcases-need to embrace the same goals of visibility and awareness.