THE United States is allegedly flooding the diamond market with synthetic products in what industry officials in Zimbabwe see as an attempt to undermine gems from the country’s Marange fields.
A recent meeting of the International Diamond Conference, in Mumbai, India, heard that the industry’s viability was under serious threat from synthetic diamonds produced using chemical vapour deposition (CVD) technology.
“The arrival of the Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) technology which produces synthetic diamonds is indeed a big game changer,” Mark Brauner, chief executive of the International Gemological Institute (IGI), told the meeting.
“It takes a highly experienced diamond expert to tell the difference between a synthetic diamond and a genuine one. These man-made diamonds are a parallel to the cloning of cattle.”
The US is one of the countries leading opposition to trading of Marange diamonds on the world market over allegations of rights abuses which Zimbabwe denies. The US has since slapped three companies operating at Marange with sanctions.
But local diamond officials said the sudden appearance of synthetic diamonds, which are priced at half of the cost genuine diamonds and take less than 48 hours to produce in a laboratory, was part of an ongoing campaign to undermine the Marange gems.
“The CVD diamond technology was invented in the 1990s for special project but was popularized by the USA diamond industry soon after the successful KP certification of the Mbada diamonds, DMC, Marange Resource and Anjin,” said Tafadzwa Musarara, Chairman of the Resource Exploitation Watch who also attended the Mumbai conference.
“It is more than coincidence that the commercialisation of this technology started soon after USA has failed to stop the KP Certification and the subsequent attempt to redefine the definition of blood diamonds.
“The plot seeks to simply weaken the Marange diamond field operations and this time the Americans are using technology as a weapon. Sooner, rather than later, the international market will be awash with these fake diamonds retailing at a fraction of the genuine ones.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe is organising an international diamond conference which will be held in Victoria Falls between November 12 and 13.
“The conference aims to highlight the accomplishments of Zimbabwe in the diamond industry,” Mines Minister Obert Mpofu said.
“After having been accepted again as a full member of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme in Kinshasa in 2011, Zimbabwe stands ready to give the world full transparency on its achievements as a major diamond producer.”