The controversial SI-3 clarity grade issue is placed back firmly on the frontburner, following a decision by the WFDB Presidents Meeting to give their support to SI-3's acceptance as a legitimate grade. The opinions of the gemological community, unsurprisingly, are split.
It wasn't that the SI-3 issue had disappeared off industry's radar screens; it's more as if an uneasy truce had been called. And, as long as nobody was prepared to force the issue, that's where things were likely to stay.
The diamond trade, it seemed, was comfortable with the status quo--with many listing those stones falling between the SI-2 and I-1 clarity grades as SI-3, although having to turn to only specific gem labs if a certificate was called for. In short, while the gemological community was split about the issue, dealers were generally prepared to pitch a stone as SI-3 if it made business sense.
But now SI-3 has been placed back firmly on the frontburner. It happened at the Presidents Meeting of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB), held in June in Idar Oberstein, Germany. There, the heads of diamond exchanges affiliated to the WFDB decided that, following the ratification of the SI-3 clarity grade about two months earlier by the International Diamond Council (ICA)--a subsidiary organization of the WFDB and the International Diamond Manufacturers Association that deals with gemological standards rules and nomenclature--they, too, would give their support to SI-3's acceptance as a standard clarity grade.
Formally, the WFDB presidents decided to investigate how their decision could be put into effect, and enlisted the help of Marc van Bockstael of the Diamond High Council (HRD) in Antwerp to carry out the necessary research. In the meantime, the Presidents Meeting decided informal talks will continue with the Gemological Institute of America (GIA)--one of the more vociferous opponents of SI-3--"in order to convince them of the necessity of this addition."
The SI-3 issue was placed onto the WFDB agenda at the World Diamond Congress in Antwerp last year by Lionel Noach, the president of the Diamond Club of South Africa.
"It is our responsibility to prove that we're truly connected to all layers of our industry, and in my view the introduction of the SI-3 clarity grade in the clarity grading system of the International Diamond Council would give proof of that effort," he told New York Diamonds at the time.
Noach noted that leading gemological institutes such as the European Gemmological Laboratory, had introduced the SI-3 grade into their grading scales many years ago.
"They did that because they understood the need for this grade--both on the wholesale level as well as at the level of the retail business," Noach stated. "Take any Rapaport Price list [for rounds] and look at the steep difference in price, for instance, between an SI-2 carater, of I color, and an I-1 carater of the same color. There is an obvious gap that needs to be filled," Noach added.
"I am confident that we'll get it passed by the IDC, and then GIA and other leading labs will undoubtedly …