Delivering the Perfect Diamond
Technology is driving the 21st century’s quest to produce, deliver and sell the ideal diamond.
Diamond’s ancient origins are part of the allure that early dealers used to spin romance into their stones for the aristocratic market. But the industry has come a long way in how it mines, processes and sells these gems.
Today, we have a distinctly 21st-century story to tell about the diamond’s journey from mine to “It’s mine!” Technology is seminal to each step in the process, from the rough stone’s recovery to
the delivery of a perfect diamond to a discerning consumer. But these technical innovations to the diamond pipeline in no way diminish its romance; on the contrary, they make for an appealing modern narrative that retailers can unfold to their customers.
All along the pipeline
Not only are modern mining methods light years away from their ancient beginnings, they have expanded beyond the land and into the deep. Debmarine Namibia — a joint venture between the Namibian government and De Beers — employs a flotilla of marine vessels outfitted with advanced tools, such as X-ray identification, to trawl seabeds of Namibia’s coastline and recover diamond rough. “It’s the richest marine diamond deposit known in the world,” says Jan Nel, Debmarine’s operations manager. “It should take us about 50 years to mine it out.”
Once diamonds are recovered — by any method — further innovations help move them along the diamond pipeline. One example is the Magnus Digital, a diamond-mapping device by India-based company STPL that achieves precise measurements of rough stones. The machine gives users the flexibility to plan by value or by weight, according to their production goals.
“The majority of Magnus Digital users are in India,” says Dhruv Rajguru, the company’s deputy manager of marketing. However, he adds, the machine is “being used and appreciated all around the globe in many countries.”
Making the cut
When rough reaches the cutting stage, manufacturers may utilize equipment from Sarine Technologies. In addition to the Israel-based company’s roughmapping software, Sarine’s DiaMension technology analyzes the stone and grades the cut on a scale of poor to excellent, enabling gem labs to standardize the grading system. It also measures symmetry-related parameters, which helps manufacturers improve the diamond’s appearance and light performance.
“Since we launched our cut-grading technology in the mid-’90s, Sarine has released several generations of the system, including DiaMension HD and DiaMension Axiom,” explains Roni Ben-Ari, vice president of products at Sarine.
“This introduced enhanced accuracy and provided tools for manufacturers to achieve the best end result.” In fact, says Ben-Ari, Sarine’s cutgrading capability was one of the key technologies that drove the triple Ex standard. Once the purview of a small niche of diamond polishers, it later gained broad acceptance in the trade.
Sarine systems can also help with recutting, according to master diamond cutter Mike Botha, creator of Embee Diamonds’ Sirius Star cut. For that purpose, Embee uses two Sarine software programs, he says. “One is for polished diamonds, in which we calculate the projected weight [a diamond will have once it’s] recut. For broken diamonds, we use a rough-diamond program that maps any cavities in the diamond through concave mapping capabilities.”
At some point, though, technology must yield to human expertise, Botha maintains. “With designing the Sirius Star, my objective has always been to avoid the light leakage common to round brilliants. Sirius Stars are all polished by hand, as the precision we require cannot be obtained through automation.”
At the sales counter, retailers can share the story of a diamond’s complex road to perfection with their customers — and technology can assist there, as well.
Zak Adourian, owner and head of research and development at Diamond Imaging Technologies, has been designing diamond instruments for two decades. His most sought-after device is the Performance Imaging Machine (PIM), which captures still images for printing certificates, and videos that one can upload to the web.
Years ago, he explains, jewelers had to take customers outside the store to show their diamonds under natural lighting. Today, diamond-viewing instruments simulate those conditions, but many show the stone in a static position, with the light moving and changing angles. “With the PIM,” Adourian says, “it’s the diamond that moves, rocking back and forth, mimicking the natural movement of the hand, resulting in a more realistic experience.”
‘AI is the future’
What’s on the horizon for diamonds? Artificial intelligence (AI) is making its mark on the industry.
STPL recently launched an AI-powered cutting machine called the Robomatic, which it developed with entirely Indian technology. Without human touch or intervention — a first for the diamond trade — the device selects and positions a rough diamond for optimal cutting with utmost precision. Once the cutting process is complete, the robot automatically lifts the stone from the platform and drops a new one in its place. The company designed the Robomatic with the aim of making diamond processing completely accurate, rapid and free of human error.
Sarine’s Ben-Ari sees artificial intelligence playing a major role. “AI is the future,” he states. “Sarine is already using artificial intelligence based technologies to bring automated, accurate, consistent, digital, and objective grading of a polished diamond’s clarity and color. And this use of AI is just the beginning of the revolution taking place in the diamond industry.”
Image: Adobe stock