Edmonton Journal (Alberta)
April 30, 2004 Friday Final Edition
Polar Ice worth cool million: Diavik diamonds on weekend display
by Paul Marck
EDMONTON – When Chad Snider is polishing a diamond, his sense of
sound is as keen as his sight and his touch as he carves out edges
and facets to the rough gem-stone.
“You can hear it when something’s not right,” says the 23-year-old
from Yellowknife, originally from Lloydminster. If there is a crack
or other imperfection in the jewel, the sound it makes grinding on a
spinning, diamond-dust covered cast-iron wheel is different from that
of an unblemished stone.
Snider is in Edmonton for a weekend promotion at Crowley’s Jewellers
and Goldsmiths in Kingsway Mall, featuring $1-million worth of
Canadian Polar Ice diamonds.
Snider has been a professional, certified diamond polisher for the
past three years, after graduating from an apprenticeship program in
He works for Arslandian Cutting Works, an Armenian-based gem outfit
that is among three international and one domestic cutting and
polishing shops in Yellowknife that finish Canadian diamonds from the
Diavik mine. Arslandian is the biggest diamond polisher in Canada,
with more than 50 certified staff.
So, what is it about diamonds?
“The best part of it is the romance of the stone,” says Snider.
“When you think of what it means in love, in marriage, it’s the
Snider said the prime traits that make a good diamond polisher are
patience and confidence.
“Mistakes happen,” he says of the fractures, inclusions and human
errors that detract from a diamond’s value.
While retail diamonds are often sold in half-carat valuations, gem
cutters work in much smaller dimensions, .015 of a carat, in grinding
the rough stone.
“If you go under a fraction of that, it’s a lot of money lost,” says
“You’ve got to be able to adapt to different situations. If a mistake
happens, you’ve got to pull through it.”
Shay Basal, owner of Montreal-based Basal Diamond Inc., which
consigned the $1 million worth of gems to Crowley’s, says as far as
he is concerned, there are no inferior Canadian dia-monds. Basal
deals in Polar Ice diamonds, one of two branded gems with
certificates of authenticity and provenance issued by the N.W.T.
Each one is laser etched with a logo and serial number, matched to
the certificate bearing its origin and when it was mined.
Clarity and colour, the two prime factors in diamond value, are
superior to just about everything else on the market, including
leaders Botswana and South Africa.
“There’s no such thing in diamonds as rejects. What’s beautiful about
the Canadian rough is that it’s all white.”
For jeweller Mary Crowley, the dozens of jewelry pieces featuring
Polar Ice diamonds is an opportunity for her store to celebrate its
10th anniversary and renovated location this weekend.
“It’s a grand opening. I just wanted to do something different and
The two most valuable items in the sale are a $70,000 necklace,
featuring 15.29 carats total in gems, and a single-stone ring valued
at $59,000, its diamond a hefty 2.01 carats.
GRAPHIC: Colour Photo: Larry Wong, The Journal; Mary Crowley, owner
of Crowley’s Jewellers & Goldsmiths, holds a handful of rough
diamonds valued at $50,000.; Colour Photo: Larry Wong, The Journal;
Polisher Chad Snider works on one of a collection of Polar Ice
diamonds worth more than $1-million at Crowley’s Jewellers &
Goldsmiths in Kingsway Garden Mall.