Antwerp-based diamond certifier investigated for suspicious overvaluation

Antwerp-based diamond certifier investigated for suspicious overvaluation
Credit: Belga / Luc Claessen

The messy divorce between diamond certifier HRD Antwerp and its former Turkish business partner is at the heart of a judicial investigation into the workings of HRD, which is wholly owned by the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC).

The Antwerp court has been investigating HRD Antwerp since it terminated its collaboration with Enstitü İstanbul Bilim Akademisi Yonetim Danisamanligi, its local partner in Turkey and Dubai, in 2021 amid accusations that HRD’s Istanbul office had over-graded stones. The Turkish company believes that HRD judged the quality of Antwerp diamonds too leniently, allowing some stones to be outclassed.

Ellen Joncheere, HRD’s CEO, has claimed that the termination had nothing to do with these accusations but was an effort to “divorce” from a “bad marriage” in which the two parties had different visions on how to develop the business.

However, the Turkish company, run by Mehmet Can Özdemir, continues to refute this interpretation of events, saying it had “not accepted” the “termination notices” HRD sent, which were “unexpected and, in our opinion, without cause.”

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The joint venture between HRD and its Turkish partner ended in October 2021, after seven years of collaboration. Investigators must now determine whether the manner in which HRD laboratories issue the certificates has led to a suspicious overvaluation of the diamonds.

According to L'Echo, internal leaks of information of the group revealed that the certifier had already been excluded in July 2017 from the International Diamond Council (IDC), the body that sets internationally recognized standards to determine the value of diamonds.

The IDC could no longer accept the more flexible procedures that HRD Antwerp would use. Nevertheless, the certifier has continued to stress that it analyses the stones in accordance with the international rules of the IDC.

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