Diamonds are forever
Alan Lowe is the managing director of the European Gemological Laboratory (EGL) in South Africa. He is a gemologist by training, and he also teaches at EGL’s college in Johannesburg and Cape Town. What keeps Lowe fascinated about the diamond market is the fact that no two diamonds are the same. The most beautiful diamond he has ever seen was one of more than 80 carats.
Q: How does the diamond market work?
A: Rough diamonds are produced in various parts of the world. If someone in South Africa or anywhere else in the world wants to buy rough diamonds for production, they need the Kimberley Process certificate, which warrants that the goods are conflict-free.
Q: How do you know if you have bought a real diamond?
A: There is a huge amount of trust that goes into the industry, but most people who buy diamonds know very well what they are buying. Today we’re seeing a growing market for synthetic and colour-treated diamonds.
Every stone that comes into our laboratories is tested to make sure it’s natural and not synthetic. We test them using expensive diamond-assessing equipment specially designed to identify manmade or treated gems. Our laboratories are rated very highly in the world, and we receive thousands of stones every month from an average of 200 to 300 customers. Our customers range from factories and diamond dealers to large retailers and the man on the street.
Q: Where in the world are diamonds mainly being mined?
A: The major producers in the world are Russia, Botswana, Canada and Namibia.
Q: Will old diamonds increase in value?
A: I believe the price of diamonds will rise, but I don’t think it will be in huge leaps. But of course, even old diamonds will ultimately increase in value.