Diamond Markets on the Verge of Collapse?

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Consumers should be cautious due to the unregulated diamond market in Myanmar.  ILLUSTRATION: PIX FOR VISUAL PURPOSE/PIXABAY

Facebook, a couple of months ago, was washed with the news and accusations of a jewellery shop selling lab-grown diamonds (also known as Chemical Vapour Deposition CVD diamonds) as GIA-certified mined counterparts. The buyer actually went to and checked with another jeweller on the authenticity of it, hence the hoo-huh on social media.
The lab-grown diamonds have been in existence for a long time. Even Modi, on a recent trip to the US, gave Biden such a bundle as a gift, produced by the world-famous Patel Industries in India. One gemologist told me, ‘Lab-grown versus mined diamond comparison is like comparing a child conceived through IVF versus the one impregnated through the traditional way’. Even the GIA certification can be imprinted on them. These diamonds are being produced in enormous quantities in China and India’s labs. Just think about Patel Industries as an example; within a short time span of four years, the number of their employees has grown from a hundred to over two thousand, all in the diamond-making business.
A lot of these have been flooded into Myanmar, too. Due to the scarcity and branded aspects of natural diamonds, they are still priced at a significant premium compared to the lab-ground ones. As it becomes impossible to distinguish the two diamonds, jewellery shops are increasingly tempted to pass the cheaper ones as the real thing. Mind you, as with the IVF child example, these two have the same DNA, and they are essentially the same. Hence, the alleged fraud story on social media.
One of the vice-chairpersons of the Gold Entrepreneur Association, who also dealt with diamond jewellery, was not that pessimistic. She said, ‘The scarcity of natural diamonds will ensure that there will always be people who want the real thing. Just like handbags, regardless of how your knockoff bag came from the same LV factory, the feeling of wearing the real thing will consistently allure you to aim towards getting the natural diamonds. She expects two different segments to grow separately in the future, one for natural and the other for the less expensive lab-grown diamonds. At the same time, with a considerable segment of demand in the diamond market now being satisfied by created diamonds, I would expect the supply glut even within the yearly quota released by Debeers.
Another well-known jeweller who served mainly the diplomatic community in Myanmar, Ms L Mon, said she is confident that the market will still be there, despite unscrupulous players trying to pass off created diamonds as natural, as there are machines available to test the authenticity. ‘At the same time, after the Facebook saga, fewer shops are willing to do a testing service for diamonds from outside, as they avoid publicity and creating antagonism and negative vibes among fellow jewellers’, she added.
Another old timer who owned a jewellery shop in the Scott (Bogyoke) market, Ms Phyu, however, said she would be able to tell the two apart without the use of machines. She said, ‘I have many years of experience in the diamond jewellery business to have developed a discerning eye.’
Whatever the case might be, consumers should err on the side of caution and stay away from diamond buying for the time being. The diamond market is a totally unregulated industry in Myanmar, and as such, there is little recourse if you get conned into buying something not worth its weight. With zero knowledge of how much of these artificial diamonds have flooded Myanmar, we expect diamond prices to remain subdued in the foreseeable future due to the overall uncertainty of the market demand for diamonds.

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