[preamble]Ruth Batsonis the executive director and CEO of the American Gem Society (AGS) and AGS Laboratories in the United States. In both 2012 and 2013, JCK Magazine included her in its list of the industry’s most powerful leaders.
Q: Why are diamonds so popular and pricey?
A: Diamonds have been marketed to represent the rarity of true love. Their physical and optical properties also make them popular, and their hardness [10 on the Mohs scale] is unmatched compared with other gemstones.
People pay so much for diamonds because of their historical and romantic context. Also, diamonds take a lot of effort to source, extract and process. To recover a single rough diamond weighing one carat, a mine must process approximately 20 tonnes of overburden.
Q: What are diamonds used for?
A: Diamonds have a variety of uses, as well as being decorative. Because of their physical properties, including extreme hardness, thermal conductivity and electrical insulation (except for blue diamonds, where boron impurities cause them to become semiconductors), diamonds have a wide range of industrial applications. Their uses range from coatings for files and drill bits to computer processors as a heat sink to prevent overheating and scalpels for the medical industry.
Q: How has the industry addressed the issue of conflict diamonds?
A: The industry supports the Kimberley Process (KP) through the World Diamond Council System of Warranties, a programme of self-regulation that tracks diamonds through the supply chain after KP certifies them. The System of Warranties requires all diamond suppliers and diamond jewellery manufacturers to pass on a warranty statement each time diamond goods change hands, assuring the next buyer the diamonds originated within the KP system.
The KP, launched in 2002, regulates 99 percent of the rough diamond trade worldwide, through a system of import and export controls that prevent conflict diamonds from entering the legitimate supply chain. Key industry representatives worked with governments and human rights groups around the world to bring about this solution to the conflict diamond problem. KP is supported and mandated by the United Nations with 75 nations currently participating.
Q: What are “space diamonds”?
A: “Space diamonds” can be found in primitive interstellar meteorites. They can also be formed by asteroid impacts with the Earth’s surface or collisions in space. Diamonds have also been documented as being part of the core of stars as crystallized carbon, or created as a result of star death.