Are you sure the diamonds in your jewelry are real?
You go to a store to buy a nice ring for yourself or your loved one. You had your eyes set on that white gold ring with the beautiful diamonds. Perhaps you have been saving money to buy it and today is the big day; you are going in to finally purchase that diamond ring! But wait, how do you know if the price you pay for this ring is fair? And how do you even know if these diamonds are real?
The recent Nirav Modi and Gitanjali scandal is a huge shock to the world of jewelry and may leave you questioning about your jeweler’s integrity when it comes to diamonds. But is this fair?
Scandal Nirav Modi and Gitanjali
Maybe you haven’t heard of it, but the jewelry world is in a shock right now because of a recent scandal. A scandal that will have a ripple effect for sure. A scandal that calls out the jewelry world and especially, the diamond world to react strongly in order to restore consumer confidence quickly.
So here is what happened in short; Nirav Modi, a celebrated jeweler , and one of the richest men in India, with own jewelry boutiques, a huge diamond company called Firestar International and Firestar Diamond International and his uncle Mohul Choski who is part of Gitanjali jewellers, the largest jewelry retailer in India, with many other related companies in the industry, are wanted for a huge bank fraud in India. The fraud of $1.8 billion is incredible enough, but 5.000 people lose their job this month alone, because of the Gitanjali stores closing down. And many businesses have been forced to declare bankruptcy as a direct consequence of the Nirav Modi scandal.
Victims of the scam
If this isn't already sad enough to learn so many have lost their jobs and so many franchisees of Gitanjali are drawn into the scandal, then also listen to this: the couple, uncle and nephew have allegedly used fake diamonds. I will come back to the term ‘’fake’’. Not just that, but they appear to have sold to a huge number of people jewelry containing low-graded diamonds for the price of high-grade diamonds.
Diamond Terminology Guideline
On January 30th, 2018, a press release of by the 9 leading jewelry and diamond organizations informed the world about the decision of the industry itself to specify and clarify different names used for diamonds.
When I read about this, the first thing that sprang to my mind were the stories I heard a couple of years ago about the Dutch Antilles. Someone from the industry, told me during a drink, how some retailers there were laughing all the way to the bank, because of all these cruise ship tourists visiting the island and buying diamond jewelry there. With the arrival of the synthetic diamond* a diamond with essentially the same characteristics as a diamond created by nature, only it has been grown in a lab (aka laboratory-grown diamonds) they saw the opportunity to make a better profit on the jewelry by mixing the diamonds.
Now here is the deal: a laboratory-grown diamond or synthetic diamond has a much lower price than a diamond sourced in nature and that should be mentioned and reflect in the price. Apparently, that was exactly what did not happen. Yes, the people got diamonds and not some rhinestone, but still, the difference in quality and price is huge. I am not against synthetic diamonds at all. It can be a choice to work with this type of diamonds. Perhaps some find it more sustainable or don’t mind the artificial origin. It is ok and it should make some jewelry more affordable. It is, however, another thing to deliberately mislead consumers. I haven't been able to verify the story, it was a shock to me to hear this and I know that within any industry there are those who think they outsmart others with a questionable attitude towards integrity and ethics in general.
Why scam the jewelry consumers?
When reading about the Nirav Modi and Mohul Choski scam, I couldn’t help but wonder a little about the human mind. Paintings given to earn favors, appear to be falsifications of real ones, people covering each other and closing an eye here and there, the sheer size of the company with that ''too big to fail'' tag, the scheming, the manipulations, the longing to enter both Hollywood and Bollywood. Perhaps I am being a bit of a mum here, but it’s like two insecure children that needed the approval of the cool kids. This is what I see when I look at the two alleged criminal jewelers standing next to the biggest movie stars.
But also, when people get away with something, they will try often to do it again. And there comes a time, when they start to believe in their own lies and stories. A time when the line between good or bad becomes ever more blurred, fake paintings or fake diamonds; it’s still a painting, it’s still a diamond.
And when chased, they act out like a cat in a corner; blaming others for 5.000 people losing their jobs for example. I also realized the possibility of a whole new service for gemologists everywhere! Assisting consumers much like a realtor that you hire yourself to buy a house, instead of only for selling your house.
What is a natural diamond, a synthetic diamond, and an imitation diamond?
So here are the guidelines of how retailers and traders and everyone within the jewelry industry should refer to the different kind of diamonds.
A diamond is a mineral created by nature and therefore a natural diamond. A natural diamond should be called just diamond unless specification is needed.
A synthetic diamond is an artificial product with essentially the same characteristics as a natural diamond
An imitation diamond is a simulant diamond. It imitates a diamond but hasn’t got the same chemical composition.
*The fake diamonds as mentioned in all article about Nirav Modi appear to be, so far, laboratory-grown diamonds, so synthetic diamonds.
Can you still trust your jeweler?
And can a jeweler still trust the brands and manufacturers they work with? Yes. Because it’s a few rotten apples that catch the headlines especially when a rotten apple is as big as Nirav Modi or Gitanjali Gems. It’s a scandal and perhaps we can all learn a little from the #metoo movement, causing a ripple effect with an end result of bringing out the monsters into the light of day and creating new conducts of behavior together.
For you, as a consumer of jewelry, please do have faith in the fact that by far; most brands and jewelers are selling you what they tell you it is. Using your common sense is a good guide when you go and buy jewelry. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Even if you never heard of the brand before, don't worry. You pay more for a famous brand, but often it offers an added value should you ever sell your jewelry again. If you are really spending a lot of money on a piece of jewelry, it might be an idea to hire a gemologist or an expert if that gives you peace of mind. Be conscious and ask questions, the world of jewelry is far from being transparent, but it is working on becoming so. There are brands around that will be able to tell you everything; from where a gemstone is mined to their philosophy on working with certain small artisan miners, supporting a whole village for example. If you want to know more about responsible jewelry and sustainability do check out the website of the Responsible Jewellery Council
And remember that, by far, most jewelers don't fool us and most brands and manufacturers will deliver exactly what they promise.
Should I ask what kind of diamonds they use?
Sure! Do ask your jeweler what they can tell you about the diamonds. Perhaps you can even ask if they have synthetic diamonds ( laboratory-grown diamonds) too and they can show you the difference in price. As with anything you invest in, do your homework a little and trust the fact that most people are good and by far, most people in the jewelry industry, want to do the right thing and create a beautiful product for you to love, enjoy and cherish for years to come.