DIAMOND lovers are being offered the chance to test their knowledge of sparklers, by picking a real gemstone from a selection of convincing fakes.
Renowned city expert Alistir Tait is the only retail jeweller in Scotland to have a full diamond “reference set”, which includes a perfect diamond sitting alongside a selection of identically cut imitations.
Now he is using the kit – an important tool for professional gemmologists -at a fun event, What’s It Worth?, to raise funds for a leading cancer charity.
Billed as a bling version of the Antiques Roadshow, the event will also see competitors challenged to identify a range of other unusual items, including a silver Georgian nipple cover.
Alistir, who owns Alistir Wood Tait Antique and Fine Jewellers on Rose Street, Edinburgh, said: “Virtually everybody loves diamonds and there are plenty of people who think they know enough to tell the real thing from a fake.
A rare gemstone or a nasty rash
“Then there are those people who are very interested in jewellery but who couldn’t tell you if pyroxmangite was a rare gemstone – or a nasty rash.
“We thought it would be fun to have an evening testing people on their knowledge of gemstones and other quirky antiques and unusual items of jewellery to raise money for charity.”
The main event will be the Spot The Diamond competition. Alistir, who was the youngest ever Fellow of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain, is one of the UK’s foremost experts on the properties of precious stones.
He has spent years building up his diamond reference set of 13 identical looking stones. Only one is a true diamond. The others include manmade stones like zirconia and the more unusual lithium niobate and yitrium aluminium garnet (YAG).
How experts spot convincing fake diamonds
He added: “There are also lower quality diamonds which undergo High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) treatment. That can take a brown diamond with good clarity and make it look like a far superior stone.
“These diamonds are often sold quite legitimately as treated stones, but people have to be careful, particularly when abroad, that they are not passed off as natural diamonds. They are far inferior quality and worth at least 20% less than natural stones.”
Most jewellers carry out a few simple tests to establish if a diamond is genuine, but the more convincing fakes can pass those tests. Accomplished gem experts like Alistir prefer to use comparison stones.
Alistir added: “Whenever customers are in the shop and see the reference set, they are fascinated to see the 10 stones sitting side-by-side. Each stone is the same size and identically cut and to the untrained eye are virtually indistinguishable.
Checking the way a genuine diamond disperses light
“This is mainly because of the way they disperse light differently. However, the best in the business don’t always need a lab or equipment, because they have an intuitive sense of whether or not they are dealing with real diamonds.”
The What’s It Worth? Event will also give people the chance to handle unusual gemstones and silverware. It is being held in The Royal Overseas League, 100 Princes Street, from 7.30pm on Thursday, May 4.
Tickets, cost £10, are available from Alistir’s shop at 116 Rose Street (0131 225 4105) and all proceeds will go to the Edinburgh Fundraising Committee of Cancer Research UK.