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Through the Looking Glass - The Future of Diamonds

AGA Las Vegas Conference was held on May 31, 2012


Is the World Of Diamonds As You've Known It About To Change Forever?

It might change in ways that we have never envisioned, and this conference
was the first to address issues no one else has dared to discuss until now.
This was one of the most important conferences ever on diamonds.

Once upon a time... humankind discovered diamonds & a love-story began!

For thousands of years—since man's fascination with diamonds began—diamonds have been highly sought-after for every imaginable reason. They are steeped in history and intrigue, fact and fiction, and hold an unrivaled position as one of the most valuable of all things. Most jewelers agree diamonds are at the core of any successful jewelry business today.

The story of diamonds, however, continues to unfold. It has seen many challenges and many changes: an ever-increasing list of diamond imitations, some even able to fool electronic testers at one time; innovative high-tech treatments; and new sources of colorless and fancy-color diamonds have emerged – including the laboratory!

Now, as we move into the 21st century, demand has reached an historical high, and experts predict growth will continue to increase at an unprecedented rate. But we also hear dire predictions that the supply of diamonds is being rapidly depleted, and that diamond supply is not endless. So the astute jeweler and gemologist must ask:

Research into diamond synthesis has been fueled – and funded – by the search for a reliable and consistent supply of diamond for applications in other fields, from medicine and aerospace to the electronics industry. Couple this with concerns about the depletion of natural diamond production, and where might this lead. One thing seems clear -- advances in technology and the need for synthetic diamond for important applications in other fields will result in an exponential increase in research and production of synthetic diamond.


Are YOU ready for the future of diamond?

Can you envision what the changes might be, how it will affect the gem and jewelry field, and the role of gemologists?

Leaders from the gem and jewelry field -- and from other fields in which diamond technology is essential – address the issues surrounding diamond demand and supply, innovative technology, and the impact on diamond treatments, synthesis, and detection. The Future Is Here…and NOW!


Alex Grizenko

Alex Grizenko

Alex Grizenko, CEO of Lucent Diamonds, will have you sitting on the edge of your seat as he sets the stage for a riveting exploration of the world of diamonds. Presenting multiple possibilities for the future and guiding the expert panelists to address the future from their own set of experiences, the audience will have a unique opportunity to envision through a kaleidoscopic looking glass… the future of diamonds!

A renowned expert on new diamond technologies, his work over many years has given him a unique perspective. One of the first to bring the world a rich palette of rare colored gemstones from Russia; he had a keen interest in Russia's evolving technologies and their implications for the gem, and more particularly, the diamond industry. Today he is regarded as one of the market leaders in laboratory-grown diamonds and treated natural diamonds.

A name that may sound familiar, he has been a frequent lecturer on new diamond technologies and has been featured on PBS NOVA (The Diamond Deception), BBC Science and Nature Horizons (The Diamond Makers, The Diamond Labs) and Germany's ZDF Science (Laboratory Diamonds.)

A captivating speaker, Alex launched the conference with an entertaining history of the world of diamond as we've known it, and provided some creative vignettes for panelists and audience alike to contemplate as the conference unfolded, to stimulate and challenge our vision of what the future might hold.


Martin Rapaport

Martin Rapaport

Martin Rapaport

Martin Rapaport began his career in the diamond industry in 1975 as an apprentice diamond cleaver in Antwerp Belgium. In 1978, he established the Rapaport Diamond Report, the primary source of diamond price and market information. In 1980, he created RapNet – The Rapaport Network, the first and world's largest electronic diamond trading network. RapNet currently provides daily diamond listings of 770,000 diamonds worth over $5.5 billion dollars. It has 7,200 members of the diamond trade in 78 countries.

The Rapaport Group is a primary advocate of free, fair, efficient and competitive diamond markets. Martin Rapaport played an integral part in the establishment of the Kimberley Process. He is a strong advocate of diamonds for development, an ethical diamond trade, and the establishment of a Fair Trade Jewelry sector that will improve the lives of millions of impoverished artisanal diggers, diamond cutters and jewelry makers.

Few in the jewelry trade would argue that diamonds represent the largest percentage of annual sales and are at the core of any successful jewelry business. We almost take diamonds for granted, whatever we need, whenever we need them.

Can We Really Rely On A Continuous Supply Of Diamonds Any More…

In case you haven't noticed, it's getting harder to find diamonds in a range of sizes and qualities; what once could be located in a couple phone calls, now takes much more time and yields fewer possibilities. The astute jewelry professional has been asking why, and the trade media has provided some editorial commentary on this. But are we being told the whole story?

Sonny Pope

Howard Coopersmith

Why is Rio Tinto selling their diamond mining operations?  What happened to BHP? And the Oppenheimer family sold the entirety of their 40% stake in De Beers to Anglo American PLC.

What is this telling us? Is there something we should know that is going to have a significant impact on the jewelry industry? In short, can we continue to "expect" the diamond business to be what it has always been? Can we expect to have a continued, reliable supply of diamonds, as has been the case historically?

We all need to know what the future holds in terms of diamond production and availability to meet demand, and few people were in a better position to address this question than HOWARD COOPERSMITH.

Howard Coopersmith is a Registered Professional Geologist with over 35 years of experience in diamond deposits and project evaluation, due diligence, feasibility, development and mining. He has worked on projects in North America, South America, southern Africa, west Africa, central Africa, Australia, India and Russia, and was the discoverer and developer of the Kelsey Lake Diamond Mine in Colorado. His knowledge about diamond mining and production is highly recognized and respected.

Sonny Pope

Sonny Pope

So Why Are Heated Diamonds HOT…

We all remember the "good ol' days"…when diamonds were considered "easy" for gemologists to identify and evaluate. For most of the 20th century, diamond "treatments" were superficial and easy to spot; even detecting diamonds that had been color-altered by innovative irradiation techniques wasn't beyond the scope of a conscientious gemologist with a well-equipped lab.

By the end of the 20th century, gemology was having a hard time keeping up with technology. We were starting to see ever-more sophisticated techniques for color and clarity improvement, and none has had greater impact on the field of gems than high pressure/ and high temperature techniques. HPHT technology introduced a new era…and with it, new and more daunting challenges!

Many of us remember "GE-POL diamonds" – when the trade first learned about HPHT techniques – and the sensational headlines resulting from GIA having issued reports on these stones indicating they were natural! Word spread like wild fire that diamonds were being "whitened" and that they were indistinguishable from naturally colorless diamonds…

…And the world diamond trade blanched!

Until the gemological labs caught up and determined that there were distinguishing characteristics. Now let's fast forward to 2012 – and to expert panelist Sonny Pope. Currently the CEO of Utah-based Suncrest Diamonds, he has been actively involved in the high pressure, high temperature field for twenty-five years, innovating and perfecting the process, especially for gem diamonds. HPHT techniques have not been standing still. There have been important changes that every gemologist needs to know in order to be prepared for what the future holds.

Will My Blue Diamond Ring Also Be My Supercomputer…

Dr. Robert Linares

Dr. Robert Linares

The diamond growing labs are becoming better at what they do. There are several ways to grow a diamond from the older method of high pressure high temperature (HPHT) to the newer technology of chemical vapor deposition (CVD). There are now many different types of growers. And the labs are perfecting the science of diamond growth for applications that extend far beyond the gem and jewelry industries.

Founder of Apollo Diamonds, Dr. Robert C. Linares is a codeveloper of CVD Technology. He now runs an independent consulting practice on diamond and semiconductor technology. He brings with him extensive and diverse experience in the field of crystal growth technologies. Dr. Linares holds a doctorate in Materials Science and Engineering, a master's in business administration, and the prestigious "Diploma of Gemmology" which he received from the Gem-A (Gemmological Association of Great Britain) in 1967.

Dr. Linares began fundamental research into a number of advanced semiconductor materials, especially diamond, that would allow electronics and optics technology to move beyond the limitations of silicon based devices.

Dr. James Shigley

Dr. James Shigley

Tell Me That You Can Tell The Difference…..

Yes we can. Today the sophisticated grading labs can distinguish between natural and synthetic diamonds, and natural color and treated color. But can all labs do it effectively? Are there diamonds that are slipping through the cracks? Are the growers and treaters becoming so much more technologically astute that the identification of their diamonds is becoming increasingly more difficult? And then what happens to the diamond market if the cracks widen?

Dr. James Shigley, a Distinguished Research Fellow at the Gemological Institute of America, is the author of many articles on diamonds and other gemstones, and a well-known speaker on gemological topics to both professional and general audiences. Dr. Shigley helps direct GIA's research activities on the identification of natural, synthetic, and treated diamonds, colored stones and pearls. In his current position as Distinguished Research Fellow, he continues to advance GIA's gem research program to support the jewelry trade to meet the challenges of gem identification.

Tom Chatham
Tom Chatham

Are There People Who Prefer A Man-Made Diamond…

Tom Chatham entered the gem business in 1965 working for Chatham Research Labs and crystal growing legend, his father, Carroll Chatham.

In 1993, Chatham Created Gems introduced Created Diamonds from a joint venture in Siberia, and in 2001 introduced created diamonds in pink, yellow and blue. Today, Chatham Created Gems & Diamonds remains one of the leading producers of created gemstones worldwide.

Irradiated Diamonds. An Update on the Battle for Consumer-Oriented Nomenclature…...

Ya'akov Almor
Ya'akov Almor

Ya'akov Almor presented an overview on the irradiated diamond issues. Ya'akov is a certified gemologist, a strategic consultant in the international diamond, gemstone and jewelry industry and co-managing director/partner in MarketDirect Business Communications Ltd. Currently he serves as Director of Communications of CIBJO, the World Jewellery Confederation and Chief Communications Liaison and spokesman of the International Diamond Manufacturers Association (IDMA).

Sneak Peak at Laser-Based Diamond Inspection Instrument

Diasign, an innovative young company, developed a laser‐based diamond inspection instrument that distinguishes between natural mined & lab-grown diamonds. A demonstration of the prototype of this new instrument was given during the AGA conference. The instrument is based on a new laser spectroscopic technique, recent advances in laser technology & imaging techniques, it provides a low-cost, affordable instrument easily used by gemologists, jewelers & pawn shops. The instrument significantly reduces the number of gemstones requiring more intensive & time consuming examination on more sophisticated instruments.

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