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Determining Diamond Origin Remains a Challenge, Says Top GIA Expert

New York, NY – [Date] – Identifying a diamond’s origin based solely on its physical characteristics is highly unlikely, according to Dr. James Shigley, a distinguished research fellow at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).

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Dr. Shigley explained that diamonds lack distinctive visual features indicative of their provenance, and existing sample sizes are insufficient for conclusive analysis. While trace elements within diamonds could potentially offer clues, their low concentration and ambiguity regarding geographical origin present significant challenges.

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“The chemical composition of diamonds reflects geological processes within the Earth’s mantle,” Dr. Shigley stated during a recent episode of Rapaport’s GEMTalks series, sponsored by the GIA. “This has no direct correlation to where they are found on the Earth’s surface today.”

He emphasized that current research efforts are too limited in scope and geographical diversity to support the possibility of origin determination, now or in the future.

However, Dr. Shigley noted that “origin confirmation” – matching a polished diamond to its rough counterpart with known provenance – is achievable. The GIA accomplishes this through its Diamond Origin Reports, which require prior examination of the rough diamond. He estimated a success rate of approximately 90% for this process.

“It’s akin to a chain of custody,” he elaborated. “This is what we can currently achieve, and I don’t believe there’s a way to determine origin simply by studying a polished diamond.”

Dr. Shigley’s presentation also addressed the feasibility of origin determination for colored gemstones, a more realistic prospect, as well as the topic of lab-grown diamonds. He concluded by taking questions from the audience.

This statement from a leading expert at the GIA underscores the ongoing challenges associated with pinpointing a diamond’s origin. While origin confirmation through documented rough diamond examination is possible, definitively identifying the source of a polished diamond based solely on its physical characteristics remains elusive.

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