* Synthetic stones form small share of world output
* De Beers aims to lead industry-wide push for authenticity
LONDON Feb 28 Diamond specialists De Beers has
rolled out a new machine to prove the authenticity of diamonds
to ward off the threat of synthetic stones masquerading as real
At an event in Hong Kong, the International Institute of
Diamond Grading & Research (IIDGR), part of the De Beers diamond
group that parent Anglo American has said is central to
its operations, launched new equipment that can screen thousands
of tiny diamonds, known as melee, and determine whether they are
It says it expects over the next two years to sell around
500 of the machines at $45,000 each.
The devices, which screen diamonds 10 times faster than the
previous model, are sold to jewellers across the world as De
Beers seeks to set industry-wide standards and prevent anyone
passing off a laboratory-grown stone as natural.
It could in theory be easy to conceal small synthetic stones
in a melee.
Jonathan Kendall, president of IIDGR, said synthetic stones
were still only a small percentage of global diamond production,
but De Beers needed to be ahead of any reputational threat.
"We are making sure we cover any future issue that may
arise," Kendall told Reuters by phone. "Confidence is everything
in the diamond sector."
The rough diamond market, in which De Beers is the biggest
player by value, fell sharply in 2015 in line with a wider
commodity price collapse, but recovered in 2016.
On Tuesday, De Beers said its latest sale of rough stones
achieved $545 million, down from $617 million the same time a
(Reporting by Barbara Lewis Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)