Where diamonds really come from. Jewelry, family heirlooms but most especially mining, labor, suppliers, diamond graders and manufacturers
Borsalino Diamanti highest level stone selection
Where else is the land of «beautiful and well made», almost a mantra for Made in Italy, even when it comes to jewelry. Where it is possible to find niche companies working on different stages as a diamond travels through the cloudy journey from the mine to the customer there are realities like Borsalino Diamanti, specialized in the ability to select stones at the highest level, to offer customers and producers the cut, purity and color suited to production and market needs. But this isn’t always a trustworthy process. Over the last two decades incredible infrastructures have been put into place to ensure diamond regulations are respected and regulated.
Borsalino Diamanti was established in Valenza over fifty years ago by Marco Borsalino. A family run business, Borsalino’s son Matteo is now the driving force behind one of the leading Italian diamond graders. When it comes to diamonds, they aren’t all the same. The Marco Borsalino company catalogs them all according to size, cut, clarity and color, the notorious four C’s grading system universally used to grade diamonds. But what actually happens behind closed doors is a painstaking endeavor that still today relies on the eye of experts through a lens.
Today pressure from upcoming technological and AI advancements when it comes to grading diamonds leave the industry in a clear divide between the companies that choose to work using technology and those that are trained in diamond grading with an incredible know-how for grading with their own hands and eyes for decades. «We do this by hand, there is no grading machine», he explained over a Zoom call. «These grading machines used to grade color are not precise because there can be many technical problems which can flaw the process. Let’s suppose there is a really low color and the machine will not understand exactly what that color is so it will give an idea based on what it has seen but it isn’t fact and is for the people who cannot do it themselves».
Becoming a grader isn’t something you just fall into, it’s a rare profession mastered by only a certain few people around the world. «When my father started there was no system, skill, it was just to trade from one place to another. Over years, we’ve learnt not to play games and are completely transparent». Notorious with the diamond industry is the incredibly taboo linked to the diamond trade as it is so challenging to track a diamond as it changes from a rough stone to polished. Often associated with the industry is haggling when customers try and negotiate prices by claiming they can find better elsewhere or perhaps when untrained graders put higher prices on their diamonds with the aim of lowering them with discounts so customers think they have a bargain in front of them. These games are few of the countless strategies all too familiar with the trade and certainly something that Borsalino condemns. «I’m not cheap and don’t give discounts but at least my diamonds are safe and I know that they are of correct value».
How Borsalino ensures a diamond is a natural diamond and not lab-grown synthetics
One element they cannot necessarily claim to do themselves is ensuring a diamond is in fact a natural diamond as opposed to lab-grown synthetics. For this, Borsalino uses an automated machine created by the De Beers group, who have a branch for producing technology for diamond tracking, that checks each and every stone in a matter of seconds. «It is quite fast. She can check 3,000 stones per hour depending on the size. Whatever goods they receive in the office, they are first checked in the machine to ensure the diamonds are 100% natural».
Then they have a system within the machine used when it is ensured of a diamond’s authenticity. The machine is programmed to grade authenticity on a 1 to 10 scale. Anything over the 10 mark will be classified as doubtful, meaning the stone will be sent to the lab for further investigation. Still he explained, «Whatever I buy from production is always 100% natural because it comes from the production to me. There is nothing in between. But I still have to make sure because only by checking can I be sure of what I’m selling, even if I trust my supplier completely. If a customer asks me if I’m sure then I have to be sure and not because someone told me».
And these strict measures aren’t the only steps to grading a diamond. When the company sends goods out to a customer for a sample, the diamonds are put through the machine once again to ensure the exact diamonds are in fact returning and no counterfeits are in their place. Having already established a secure client list of suppliers and manufacturers, Borsalino didn’t promote himself as he said, «The jewelry market is a small market, and we all basically know each other. So when you want to sell your goods in a small market like this the customer is going to come to you because maybe they know you have the goods and you can help them».
Still Matteo travels between Italy, India, Antwerp Hong Kong and Tel Aviv although they have less business there now. But most importantly, the major part of their polished diamonds come from suppliers in India and once they arrive, depending on the volume of the goods, the grading process can be completed in a matter of hours. «We have a good relationship with our customers because they trust us and realize we are giving them the right products because it’s not easy to buy diamonds if you don’t know the grading system. Not everyone in the diamond business is very honest and sometimes they just buy them from somewhere and sell them to another, they don’t put much responsibility or love into it».
The Kimberley Process: a multilateral trade
This is where the Kimberley Process comes in. The Kimberley Process is a multilateral trade regime established in 2003 with the goal of preventing the flow of conflict diamonds. The core of this regime is the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) under which States implement safeguards on shipments of rough diamonds and certify them as ‘conflict free’. Each and every diamond supplier or manufacturer along the pipeline has to comply with the Kimberley Process.
This not only ensures each diamond’s safety but also that a company like Borsalino Diamanti follows the rules when it comes to a safe working environment, it covers electrics, plumbing, employee contracts or health and safety. Each element of a company has to be certified to function transparently so the decades the Borsalino family have spent in diamond grading has definitely played to their favor. Regarding the diamonds themselves, they mostly buy polished goods because of their client basis. «When you produce polished goods, there are a lot of different elements that come out in a rough diamond so we might not necessarily be able to sell all of them coming from a rough stone».
In Europe low color grades such as J, K, L, M and N are perhaps too mixed and being selective in this way is what enables Borsalino to select the exact colors they need and their customers are looking for to reduce waste and unused stock. «Nowadays low colors aren’t moving much so our clientele is primarily interested in white and bright diamonds». Still they have agreements with polishers that supply them with very clean goods all the way until the low quality.
Once they purchase the production, they mix up the assortment and apply the universal rules for certification and decide the grading for each diamond. «We make a price for each and every grade based on the purity and color and in relation to the request, in relation to what is more requested the price will be a little bit higher and whatever is less in demand will be a little bit cheaper. We give a consistent volume of goods in the right assortment». So then the customer manufactures and sets the diamonds before they go down to the retail level and are eventually sold.
The varieties of polished diamonds sold by Borsalino
With their father still involved in the company, Matteo and his sister manage their team of ten to twelve employees where they sell polished diamonds in a wide variety of sizes, quality and in any shape before selling them onto jewelry manufacturers. «We are kind of in the middle as we sell diamonds and what the customer needs because they are very particular and are looking for specific things. With machinery and softwares incoming, all the models are always more precise, so they need a very specific size, very specific shape and we can produce customized shapes of diamonds. We have to follow the Kimberley Process as all the diamonds have to be under the control of the Kimberley Process, which is more for the rough diamonds. Any company who buys rough diamonds and sells polished diamonds afterwards, they have to buy the goods through specific offices which control the traceability of where the goods are coming from – which kind of mine or if they are allowed to do it in that specific country».
Once this is tracked each element has to be reported on every invoice creating one long chain through a diamond’s journey. If a supplier doesn’t meet these standards and cannot provide clear documentation then Borsalino will not purchase them whether they are rough stones or polished. Other elements need to be considered, the Responsible Jewelry Council (RJC) is the world’s leading standard-setting organization for the entire jewelry and watch industry. Borsalino Diamanti are currently in the process of making a certification for the company through the RJC, this covers business ethics and responsible supply chains. Their objective is to work in partnership to ensure the industry’s standards are maintained, and to help create a responsible and sustainable, world-wide jewelry supply chain which coincides with ideals that Borsalino was built on – family, perseverance, trust and transparency. Being certified with the RJC will also entail that the company can work with RJC suppliers meaning a higher quality and conflict-free diamond.
Established in Valenza in Italy over fifty years ago by Marco Borsalino. A family run business, Borsalino’s son Matteo is now the driving force behind one of the leading Italian diamond graders with his sister. Together the Borsalino Diamanti family, are specialized in the ability to select stones at the highest level, to offer customers and producers the cut, purity and color suited to production and market needs. Borsalino Diamanti can be found on Via Giuseppe Mazzini, 15, 15048 Valenza, AL, Italy.