Trapped by Invisible InscriptionsFebruary 08, 24
It's like something from a whodunnit - a suspected diamond thief is trapped by invisible inscriptions on the stolen gems.
The chances are they didn't even realize there was such a thing, even though the laser technology has been around since the 80s.
And if they didn't know about inscriptions, they certainly never imagined that the lab that originally graded the diamonds and put a number on their girdle would be the same lab that was asked to grade them again after they ended up in the hands of a wholesale diamond dealer.
The real-life story of a jewelry heist in Colorado, USA, serves to highlight the value of inscriptions not only for customer confidence, by linking the stone to its certificate, but also as an effective crime-fighting tool.
A collection of jewelry values at $475,000 was stolen last June from a private home. The owners were away and the property was on the market, so there were plenty of comings and goings.
Among the items stolen were two large diamonds, a 4.31 carat stone set in a ring and a loose 4.03 carat diamond. There was also a morganite necklace, a pair of morganite earrings, and a pair of diamond and sapphire earrings.
It wasn't clear when the jewelry was stolen, and it was a complicated inquiry because realtors and their clients, housekeepers, landscapers had all been in the house.
Detectives from the local Boulder County Sheriff's Office worked with the insurance company, and with the GIA, which provided full descriptions of the stolen items and their value. GIA had graded and inscribed the diamonds.
The breakthrough came a couple of months later when the GIA told police they'd recently graded diamonds matching those descriptions. And with the same laser inscriptions.
The stones had been submitted by a wholesale diamond dealer 60 miles away in Cherry Creek, near Denver, Colorado.
Detectives served a search warrant at the business. They identified the person who had brought the diamonds in to be pawned, and discovered he was also listed as having visited the victims' residence at least once as a prospective buyer.
They subsequently arrested Bryce Daniel Almus, 31, from Silverthorne, Colorado, on one count of theft, $100,000-$1,000,000, a class 3 felony, and two counts of pawnbroker - prohibited acts, $100,000-$1,000,000, a class 3 felony. He will appear in court in due course.
Police recovered the two stolen diamonds and many, though not all of the other items.
There are lessons to be learned. One is that crime often doesn't pay. Another is the value of a database shared by all labs.
In this case the GIA happened to grade the same diamonds before and after the theft. But there may not have been a happy ending if they were graded by different labs.
Christina Yates, GIA associate general counsel, said they often received requests from law enforcement to help them recover diamonds they'd graded that were reported lost or stolen. "This is an important part of our consumer protection mission," she said.
Have a fabulous weekend.