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Holding up the stones with the original diamond graders in Valenza, the center of Italian jewelry

Every time you pick up a diamond you are picking up an entire chain of events travelled across all corners of the world that have led to that small piece of jewelry: Matteo Borsalino displays some art

Where else is the land of «beautiful and well made» – almost a mantra for Made in Italy – 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. This isn’t always a trustworthy process. Over the last two decades infrastructures have been put into place to ensure diamond regulations are regulated.

Borsalino Diamanti was established in Valenza over 50 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. Borsalino catalogs them all according to size, cut, clarity and color, the notorious four C’s grading system universally used to grade diamonds. 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 a know-how for grading with their own hands and eyes for decades. «We do this by hand, there is no grading machine», he explained. «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 to 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».

rough diamond
A rough diamond

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 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». The customer manufactures and sets the diamonds before they go down to the retail level and are eventually sold. 

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. 

IMAGE GALLERY

Borsalino Diamanti was established in Valenza in Italy over 50 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.

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