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What happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas: Shop talk and trends from Sin City

By Jacquie De Almeida

Reena Ahluwalia has worked exclusively with natural diamonds her entire career. So it may come as a bit of a surprise that she would create a designer line featuring lab-grown diamonds.

Not so, when you think about it, says the Toronto-based designer from her booth at JCK Las Vegas.

“Whether a responsibly sourced diamond or a grown diamond or a CZ or a pebble, as long as your love is true, you’re honoured to receive it,” she says. “This collection is about choice, not about substitutes or alternatives.”

Ahluwalia says disclosure is paramount to her new business venture—each lab-grown diamond centre is fully disclosed and comes with a certificate. The sides are natural, she notes, and highlight the nature and nurture aspect to the collection.

And while some may argue lab-grown diamonds lack romance given their origin, Ahluwalia’s response is to infuse emotion into the line, and she’s doing it through technology. A personalized QR code on the back of each piece of the ‘Moments’ collection takes users to a website where they can create a message of love for the recipient, highlighting a special moment that can be accessed at any time and shared through social media.

“We are the writers of our story and creators of our own destiny,” she adds. “The jewellery becomes a digital talisman, a time capsule. Real meaning is something you carry and is accessible. I believe design is collaborative.

I don’t want to tell someone how to interpret a design. I want people who wear my jewellery to create their own moment.”

Ahluwalia’s line comes as the diamond industry works toward a solution to growing fears of undisclosed synthetics in the market.

Sam Barbuzzi, co-owner of G S Laboratories, says there is confusion at the consumer level about what a synthetic diamond is. Most of the time, they think it’s a cubic zirconia, he explains. And while technology now exists to flag suspected synthetics of a certain size for further testing, there is still fear.

“I think there are undisclosed synthetics in the stream, but I also know more and more people are buying equipment to detect them,” Barbuzzi says. “Unfortunately, technology like De Beers’ machine cannot differentiate the melee, which is where there is most concern about undisclosed lab-growns.”

Synthetic diamonds are usually Type IIa, which the machine flags. And since Type IIa diamonds account for less than two per cent of diamonds worldwide, their detection is a notable one.

“I don’t think the scare of undisclosed synthetics is over,” Barbuzzi adds. “I think the cycle is just beginning. As equipment is developed to detect synthetic stones, unscrupulous producers will tweak their formula to fool the machinery.”

Stanley Zale, Stuller’s vice-president, diamonds and gemstones, says all the stones above 20 points the company buys through its recycled diamond program are scanned with HRD’s proprietary device. (Stuller is also working to acquire De Beers’ tester). In addition, Stuller’s suppliers of diamonds smaller than 20 points are required to have these devices to ensure no synthetics get into its supply.

“The challenge is with the smaller sizes,” Zale says. “Melee is the weak spot and in shapes other than rounds. There isn’t a reliable, cost-effective way to test them. We go through tremendous quantities. At the same time, testing for synthetics is of vital importance to us and we do everything we can.”

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