Beyond the 4C’s
Until recently, gemology answered every question you might ask about diamonds. The 4C’s were the key to understanding everything you needed to know about the most brilliant of gems. But today consumers have some additional questions about the path a diamond has taken to market.
Twice since the beginning of 2006, jeweler Hillary Stern has faced a diamond third degree for which her gemological education had not prepared her.
“A customer wanted to know if I could guarantee that the diamonds I was selling were ‘free of scandal,’” Stern relates. “‘What do you mean by scandal?’ I asked. ‘You know, conflict diamonds,’ she answered. I assured her that my diamonds came from people who did not buy from terrorist groups. ‘Prove it,’ she said.”
“When I regained my composure, I offered to call the supplier of any diamond she chose and get his verbal assurance that the diamond was conflict free. Oh, for the good old days when understanding diamonds was only about the 4C’s.”
Those days are gone.
Since 2000, the jewelry industry has added to its traditional emphasis on the 4C’s what might be called the 3P’s—a new trinity of factors needed for consumer confidence in diamond purchases:
- Product integrity.
- Proof of performance.
- Moral and ethical principles.
Yes, color, clarity, cut, and carat weight are still important value factors, but many consumers today are asking for even more. The best jewelers today are going beyond the 4C’s to provide many other levels of assurances that diamonds are not only beautiful but are authentic and have had a positive impact on the country where they are mined. (see images 1 & 2)
Diamonds are the world’s most coveted and concentrated store of gem wealth. These shiny, tiny mineral morsels are easily concealed, a breeze to transport from one place to another and, alas, a fabulous fundraiser for rebel armies and despotic governments.