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Signet Aims to Rubber-Stamp Synthetics Detectors

Post Date: 24 May 2017    Viewed: 104

Signet Jewelers is planning to open a testing laboratory for synthetic-diamond detectors to ensure its suppliers can confidently say they are only dealing in natural stones.

The company has been working with United Laboratories (UL), a product-testing firm, for the last nine months to create a facility for vetting the synthetic-diamond-testing machines available on the market.

The move comes as the retailer accelerates its jewelry traceability program, which it expanded earlier this year to cover diamond sourcing. The company requires all its suppliers to ensure they do not provide lab-grown diamonds.

The project is the same one that the Diamond Producers Association (DPA) has been developing, representatives from Signet and the DPA confirmed.

As a starting point, the U.S.-based retailer will use devices from three recognized manufacturers: the International Institute of Diamond Grading & Research (IIDGR), a subsidiary of De Beers; the Gemological Institute of America (GIA); and HRD Antwerp.

In time, however, Signet and UL plan to create a benchmark for judging detection machines from around the world. There are about 16 such products available – with more industry players planning market entries – and makers of the technology include companies in the U.S., Europe, India and China. Russia-based miner ALROSA plans to put out a product this year as well.

“Technology is coming from lots of companies and countries,” said David Bouffard, Signet’s vice president of corporate affairs (pictured), pointing out that some regions’ machines were not as reliable as those of the IIDGR, the GIA and HRD.

“The concern is ensuring suppliers are working with technology that actually works and detects natural diamonds,” Bouffard told Rapaport News on the sidelines of the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council’s “Mines to Market” conference in Mumbai last week.

UL, headquartered in Northbrook, Illinois, tests a range of consumer products based on criteria such as safety, compliance and sustainability. Its jewelry and watch division offers diamond and jewelry verification programs, as well as other quality-assurance and traceability programs.

Signet unveiled its responsible diamond-sourcing protocol in February 2016 to improve transparency in its supply chain, launching it in earnest earlier this year. The retailer, which already had a similar sourcing practice for gold, plans to extend the procedures to cover silver jewelry this year and colored gemstones by the end of 2020, Bouffard said. 

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