UAntwerp opens first ASSURE-programme Lab in Europe to differentiate natural from synthetic diamonds

Consumer protection and confidence is key to the long term growth of the diamond industry. In order to maintain it, each player of the industry has to do its part to ensure the integrity of their pipeline, clear disclosure and above all verification of their supply. Fortunately, there are many effective Diamond Verification Instruments (DVI) on the market to serve this purpose. Enter the brand new ASSURE lab of UAntwerp in Antwerp, where DVIs are rigorously tested to ensure that the industry has access to objective data when selecting the best devices for them.

Diamonds continue to capture the imagination. A natural diamond, the hardest natural known substance on earth and created over a period of one to three billion years. Natural diamonds are  still associated with emotion and magic. Also, the economic impact of diamonds is not to be underestimated. But there are many alternatives that have come to market. To the naked eye, synthetic diamonds look identical to a natural diamond; although  they are grown in a laboratory. Without specialized equipment, it is impossible to separate a natural diamond from a synthetic diamond. That is why differentiation between natural and synthetic stones will always be necessary.

Focus on integrity

Of course, a customer wants to be sure if the diamond he bought is a natural or a synthetic one as they are essentially different products with a different value proposition. A lot of screening equipment already circulate on the market and new devices are being developed as we speak. Unfortunately, not every device matches stringent criteria. Seven large diamond companies, including De Beers and Alrosa, took action and joined their forces in the Natural Diamond Council (NDC). This organisation focuses on consumer confidence and aims to inspire, educate and protect the consumer. They believe that origin and quality of the diamond is key and thatis  why they launched the ASSURE Programme. An ASSURE Lab validates screening equipment. A device which passes the test, is labelled as a ‘diamond verification instrument’. Until recently, there was only one such a lab, in the United States.

Clear and accurate disclosure is essential to protecting consumer confidence, which is integral to our mission.

Raluca Anghel, head of external affairs and industry relations, NDC

Expertise in the field of gemstones

Being an innovative diamond city and the most reliable diamond centre in the world, Antwerp was the perfect location for a new ASSURE Lab in Europe. Together with the University of Antwerp, which has a lot of expertise in the field of gemstones, the NDC installed an ASSURE Lab in BlueApp at Blue Gate Antwerp. The city of Antwerp supported the UAntwerp candidacy that convinced the Natural Diamond Council.

Antwerp is very much at the centre of the global diamond trade market’. 86 percent of rough diamonds and a significant proportion of processed diamonds are traded in the City by the Scheldt. At our university we have the necessary expertise in the field of gemstones. For example, Prof. Koen Janssens (AXIS research team) has a close collaboration with the innovative diamond company HB Antwerp and Prof. Jan Sijbers and Prof. Jan De Beenhouwer (imec-Visionlab research team) have developed technology that is used within the sector. Also consider the research into the business impact of the diamond sector within the Faculty of Business and Economics.

Quinten Van Avondt, Valorisation Office, UAntwerp

 Ecosystem

The presence of such an ASSURE Lab in the city is extremely important for the Antwerp diamond industry. It reinforces the existing ecosystem and generates new added value activities. Moreover, it confirms Antwerp’s position as a leader and a frontrunner in the diamond industry.

Learn more on the website of Natural Diamond Council.