Some seven years ago, a group of diamond trade organisations, diamond producers, traders and gemmological experts got together in Antwerp to create a standard set of diamond nomenclature and terminology, aimed at the members of the trade and the general public – the consumer - to avoid any ambiguity in understanding the differences between natural diamonds and synthetic diamonds.
The founding meeting was organised by the De Beers company, a leading rough producer. Consequently, a number of follow-up meetings were held and it was decided to form a panel of experts to bring the project to fruition.
This process started about three years ago, with a working group formed and DIN, the German Institute for Standardization http://www.din.de/en appointed to act as a secretariat to guide the process.
Harry Levy, a long-time serving officer of International Diamond Council (IDC) internationaldiamondcouncil.org
, and a former president of the Diamond Commission of CIBJO, the World Jewellery Confederation www.cibjo.org, was asked to chair the working group
The guidelines given through CEN, the European Commiteee for Standardization (https://www.cen.eu/Pages/default.aspx ) were to produce a European Standard that would be suitable for consumers as well as for the trade. Harry Levy gathered his team members from the CIBJO Diamond Commission and the IDC and also engaged a number of renowned experts working in gemmological laboratories, as well as a few other experts in the field. Without exception, they were all familiar with how the diamond trade operates at different levels of the distribution chain. The process was given the blessing from CIBJO, IDC, a choice of gemmological laboratories and the diamond producers involved.
Ultimately progress was made and, after a period of less than three years, following regular meetings in several European centres such as Paris, Berlin, Brussels and Antwerp a final draft standard was agreed upon. The final draft consequently distributed by DIN to all the countries involved, for a vote of approval. And so it came about that without in relatively short period, a European Standard for diamond nomenclature and terminology was made a reality.
However, with the final draft a consensus, CEN than decided that the document produced was also suitable to serve as an international standard and not merely as just a European one. In short, again in a relatively short time frame, the document was released in mid-2015 as an ISO Standard. This has met with universal approval.
The Communication Group plc, a company retained by De Beers, had been requested to guide the process from a communications perspective. This was funded by DeBeers, Rio Tinto Diamonds and BHP Billiton Diamonds (now Dominion Diamonds). On the other hand, the members of the working group gave their time for free and also covered their own travel expenses. The project was strongly supported by CIBJO and its president Dr. Gaetano Cavalieri who has for many years advocated a joint policy by CIBJO and IDC on diamond nomenclature and terminology.
Unfortunately, the diamond industry has no fond memories of its earlier dealings with ISO. In the mid-1990s, the industry miscarried miserably in finalizing and guiding through an ISO standard for the grading of diamonds. This is seen by many as a giant failure, a feeling that is only exacerbated by the recent diamond grading scandals, as the existence of an international diamond grading standard would have helped in preventing such events.
In contrast, the fast-track along which ISO 18323 was achieved is the result of the decades of work done by CIBJO and IDC in diamond nomenclature. Lacking international standards, both the diamond and jewellery industry filled the void by developing their own. In many instances, CIBJO's Diamond Book and IDC's IDC Rules, two comprehensive bodies of diamond nomenclature, have served as the accepted standards in national and international legal disputes.
Fortunately for CEN, most of the working group members had worked on these projects for many years. It therefore comes as no surprise that the is an almost compete overlap between the content of the ISO standard 18323, the IDC rules and the CIBJO Diamond Book. As such, ISO standard 18323 was clearly built standing on the shoulders of giants!
It is also there that very special thanks are due to the panel members, some of whom have been charting the waters of diamond nomenclature for more than 40 years. They are Harry Levy, Dieter Hahn, Gerard Grospiron, Rudolf Biehler, Elfriede Schwarzer, Yves Kerremans, Héja Garcia-Guillermanet, Laurent Duizend, Edwige Soton, Jeanette Fiedler, Thilo Brückner and Jean-Pierre Chalain, Peter de Jong and Jack Ogden. Our apologies to those who contributed and are not named here.
In closing thanks are due to Karl Wenzelewski and his team at DIN for guiding the process.