The Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) is expected to introduce a list of ‘Approved Diamond Grading Laboratories’ by early 2015.
Sabyasachi Ray, Executive Director, GJEPC, said to BDI, “The Council is planning to come out with an approved list of diamond grading laboratories in India, which will be part of the new Foreign Trade Policy- 2015-19, expected to be declared between January – March 2015.”
The approved list will contain the names of internationally reputed diamond grading laboratories. “We have proposed to the government to recognise the names of certain internationally renowned diamond grading laboratories, planning to set up their branch offices in India,” Ray said.
This is a welcome move following the recent stir in the industry related to certain laboratories providing diamond dealers and retailers, their primary customers, diamond over-grading services for a fee, paid for by unwitting customers.
For example, grading the colour and clarity of a diamond is a qualitative assessment and more open to subjective analysis. Hence, a stone graded in-house by the jeweller retailer as VS1 with E colour could actually be a SI2 with G colour in a stricter laboratory, or perhaps even worse, a difference that could account for a fat price variation.
Currently, anybody can set up a grading laboratory in India as there are no established guidelines. Any gemmologist after a short course and some training can give a grading certificate.
“There is no restriction on setting up a diamond grading laboratory in India at present. The active laboratories are not regulated by the Government of India. Nobody knows how many grading laboratories operate in India. No survey has ever been conducted. This will happen once there is an approved list. The draft guidelines of the process to be adopted for approving and inclusion of laboratories in the Foreign Trade Policy has been submitted to the Office of DGFT, which is under their active consideration,” Ray informed.
Equipment, Expertise and experienced gemmologists are the essentials of a reliable grading laboratory. Says Tehmasp Printer, MD, International Gemological Laboratory (IGL), “It is important for a grading laboratory to have the scientific equipment, the necessary expertise and experienced gemmologists, which could be the benchmark for approved laboratories.”
The IGL has 10 working laboratories in India with 400 gemmologists and handles more than 5,000 stones a day. Each IGI is a subsidiary of the parent IGI, and not a franchisee. When a lab operates under a franchisee, it is a structure, which makes each laboratory working under a common brandname, an independent operation and therefore more susceptible to the lure of overgrading.
It is important for a customer to favour diamond purchase from a retailer who gets the diamond graded from a reputed and established laboratory. Costs of diamond grading are actually just a fraction of the diamond cost as grading roughly costs about US$ 65, around INR 4,000 per carat of diamond with smaller stones costing less. “In-house qualitative assessment of diamonds by jeweller retailers are almost always overgraded,” warns Printer.
The customer pays the price and needs to be aware. Advertisements and awareness campaigns through retail outlets, to educate consumers and increase their knowledge and consciousness about diamond grading should be intensified by the industry and done regularly,” advises Ray.
[Cover Image Courtesy: Cheryl Cirelli, Lovetoknow, iStockPhoto]