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Lab to evaluate clarity of diamonds for Dubai customers.

Solitaire Gemological Laboratories says it is the first diamond laboratory in the region that will do valuations directly for walk-in customers.

The four 'C's of diamonds? They're elementary my dears. But it no longer requires Sherlock Holmes to unlock the mystery of the notoriously elusive value of diamonds -- and discover which diamonds are fakes.

Solitaire Gemological Laboratories (SGL) says it is the first diamond laboratory in the region that will do valuations directly for walk-in customers. And it has opened its doors in Dubai.

They will also offer a range of training courses for members of the public and aficionados alike on the four elements of diamond quality -- colour, clarity, cut and carat.

SGL co-founder and director Chirag Soni said the diamond industry was facing twin threats from the prevalent artificial diamond production and the non-disclosure of the genesis of those diamonds. The most common methods of creating artificial diamonds are through Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD) and high pressure, high temperature (HPHT), while other methods conceal blemishes in natural diamonds in order to drive up the price.

"The major problem is that people don't disclose and that's where it's causing great concern for laboratories like us ... it's originally called Chemical Vapour Deposition as a process, but for us we call it Chemical Vapour Demon," Soni joked.

Underscoring the threat to consumers who do not have any certification for their diamonds, he said: "There is no way you can identify CVD with the naked eye ... the way it is produced is basically ... it is a diamond seed which they use to grow the entire graft and then they polish the diamond and it looks exactly like a diamond."

However, the colour and clarity of CVD diamonds would deteriorate over time.

Soni said the problem of synthetic gemstones was not just limited to diamonds, the price of which, unlike gold, is entirely unregulated. "You have it in rubies, in emeralds, in sapphires and everything. But somehow they haven't reached the severity of this problem up till now."

While he described the number of synthetics as "miniscule" -- last year 350,000 diamond carats were synthesised, compared with 125 million carats of natural diamonds -- the difference in value between an HPHT diamond and a natural diamond could be up to 35 per cent, so it was important consumers and jewellers knew what they were buying.

SGL will not certify a CVD diamond, while, somewhat unusually, they certify an HPHT diamond. "It's a permanent treatment. As a consumer if you bought it, you will not see the diamond change its clarity or colour after two decades, so it's okay to do that."

Soni said while the much-larger Indian market was the core business of SGL, with nine laboratories in the country with their Headquarters in London, the Dubai market should be lucrative because it was a jewel hub for the region.

Hiresh Jewellery Manufacturers general manager Costa El Hreich said Dubai was fast-becoming a diamond hub.

"I guess now for the past two or three years it's become in the top 5 (alongside) Antwerp, New York, Bangkok and India."

Political instability in the region had encouraged people to invest in diamonds and gold in Dubai, as there were good facilities for grading, proper regulation, a business environment, zero taxes and safety. "It's a safe place for investments when currencies are a little (worrying) ... gold is safe, diamonds are safe, especially big diamonds. (The price of) diamonds is always increasing. In the past 10 years, it's increased three-fold."

El Hreich said while there were already two international diamond laboratories based in Dubai, the market was big enough that SGL should be able to succeed. Certifying HPHT diamonds and diamonds that were already inset in jewellery would give them a point of difference.

The SGL Dubai office is in Jumeirah Lakes Towers' Al Mas Tower, but they will also have a daily secure pick-up from a small office at the Deira Gold Souk.

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Publication:Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Aug 23, 2014
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