See No Evil

My job is to talk about diamonds. How to get a good one, how not to get ripped off, how to get the most for your money. But, I’m seeing a society where the “truth” belongs to the one who can tell the best story, not the one based on the facts.

For example, every year 5,000 people are indicted, convicted and sentenced for a whole list of horrific crimes. From petty theft, to rape, assault and even murder. What is even more horrific is all these crimes hold three special things in common; the men and women that are convicted were primarily incarcerated on eye witness testimony, spend an average of ten years in prison and oh, one more thing all of these criminals are eventually set free because they are later proven to be innocent. How must it feel to spend a decade of your life telling the whole world you didn’t do it, to lose your family, friends, livelihood all based on what some one else believes they see. As it turns out magicians knew it a long time ago, that the hand was quicker than the eye.

The eye can be fooled! It happens everyday. In our streets, in automobile showrooms, to tires we’re told are safe enough to drive our families around. Now I’m not here to talk about how our justice system is broken (I think all but the most naïve of us already knows that) or about slick car salesman who try to sell us the virtues of undercoating or who roll back odometers to give us the perception of more value. It’s not even to pick on Firestone who felt profits superseded the quality of a tire and the lives that trusted those tires not to explode when driving 65mph. For me it’s still about diamonds.

“Seeing is believing”, you might say. But does believing constitute the truth? Does it constitute a fact? Well try this on for size, for the last few years the diamond industry has been fighting the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to not have to disclose laser-drilled diamonds. The industry felt it was an insult. For starters, to require disclosure of a treatment that alters the value or durability by changing the FTC guidelines would be paramount to announcing to the world that jewelers are dishonest. Jewelers can’t be trusted to tell the truth.

For God’s sake, the industry can police itself. But every year over 5,000 complaints are registered at the Better Business Bureau, FTC and Jewelers Vigilante Committee that this system of the fox guarding the hen house wasn’t working. People were and are buying diamonds every day based on who has the best story to tell and with a constant reminder “See for yourself, isn’t it a beautiful diamond?” Even in the casinos with no clocks and free liquor you know what your odds are. But in a jewelry store with its hundred canned spotlights, its very good stories, its lab grading reports and its appraisal documents, we lay our money down. Is it worth it? It must be it’s an AGS000. Is it worth it? It must be, it’s been graded by GIA. Is it worth it? It must be, it’s 100% natural. Is it worth it? It must be, just look how pretty it is. And that is where they get you. That is where they set the hook. Then to reel you in, the jeweler says, “How can you put a price on something that lasts forever?” The love card.

So you forget about the months or years it took you to save your money or the loan you have to take out or even the VISA you’re going to max out at a 22% interest rate because how can you put a price on love? The illusion is complete. Like the frog that turns into the handsome prince. The rock becomes the magical diamond. Seeing is believing or maybe better said believing is seeing. That’s where any good salesman will get you. If he gets you to believe; you will see. Last month the FTC changed their guidelines and made it mandatory to disclose laser-drilled diamonds or for that matter any form of treatment that would give you the impression that something is better or more valuable than what it is.

The convict gets released, the automaker gets fined, the tires get recalled. Is that the lesson here? The end justifies the means until you get caught. The poor go to jail, the rich go free. If we see no evil than, everything’s okay. Good always triumphs in the end. Let me ask you this, if 5,000 men and women are convicted for crimes they didn’t commit, if there are over 5,000 complaints each year about non-disclosure in treatments, how many people are still in jail that are innocent and how many diamonds are on the fingers of our loved ones and are worthless?

Here’s one more thing to chew on; it has just been announced (to the jewelry industry not the public of course) that a company by the name of 3-Beams Technology (a separate division of Norsam) has created a process called Focus Ion Beam Technology. FIB for short. Apparently taking ideas from Los Alamos National Laboratory, FIB instruments can focus a beam of ions down to a diameter of 7 nanometers (that’s .000007 millimeters, or .00000028 inches). Using this technology they can drill a diamond to remove carbon leaving a drill hole 1/1000th the size of the current technology.

According to 3-Beams’ CEO, Jayant Neogi, with a special modification a gas can be injected into the void which will solidify making the drill hole practically invisible.

FTC makes a law that treatments must be disclosed then the industry we were supposed to trust announces a new way not to get caught. What’s the moral of this story? Seeing is not believing, take everything with a grain of salt and please cut the deck before you’re dealt a hand.

by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®