Prices, fraud and grading: 2021’s top stories

Joshua Freedman

You see what we did with that headline? Yep, anything with those words at the top (plus a bit of De Beers and the GIA) attracted readers in 2021, whether it related to the astonishing rebound in retail sales, the sharp rise in rough prices, or the seemingly growing incidence of traders trying to misrepresent stones to make a quick dollar.

It was a strong year for the industry: US consumers splurged on jewelry, and the pandemic’s negative impact on the sector eased. In India, the decision to allow large parts of the diamond business to continue despite the country’s Covid-19 crisis — our top story this year — helped the midstream capitalize on that upsurge in demand.

Here are the most-clicked stories from the past 12 months:

1. Mumbai Diamond Trade Exempt from Lockdown
April 14
As virus cases soared across India, the Maharashtra state government granted exporters — including those in the gem and jewelry industry — an exemption from the containment rules it implemented in Mumbai and the surrounding region.

2. Retail Recovery Driving Up Diamond Prices
August 3
The RapNet Diamond Index (RAPI™) for 1-carat diamonds rose 3.1% in July as retail demand and polished trading returned to pre-pandemic levels.

3. GIA Spots Rare Inscription Fraud in Simulant
January 27
The Johannesburg branch of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) found three synthetic moissanites with forged inscriptions that fraudsters had used to misrepresent them as natural diamonds.

4. Diamonds with Fake Inscriptions Turn Up at GIA
February 23
The GIA warned it had received “a number of” lab-grown or treated stones carrying natural-diamond reports and fake inscriptions.

5. Lab-Grown Prices Have Slumped, Bain Says
February 8
Production of lab-grown diamonds has risen by a double-digit percentage in the past two years, leading to a drop in prices, Bain & Company said in its annual report on the industry.

6. De Beers Cuts Clients, Keeps More Goods in Africa
January 17
Details of De Beers’ new sightholder contract emerged, with the revamped system featuring an increased focus on customers that operate African manufacturing facilities. Dealers that resell rough looked set to receive reduced supply.

7. De Beers and Alrosa Raise Rough Prices
January 18
The rough market started 2021 with a bang. De Beers and Alrosa both increased prices, more so in the larger sizes, amid post-holiday restocking and a boom in retail activity.

8. GIA Sees Spike in Synthetics Fraud
May 18
Apparent deceit again. The GIA again. The organization said it was receiving larger numbers of lab-grown diamonds with fake inscriptions on their girdles — indicating fraudsters had tried to trick buyers.

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Source Rapaport