By Ronen Shnidman
RAPAPORT... European Gemological Laboratory (EGL) operations outside of North America will adopt a unified grading standard to restore the reputation of the lab's grading reports, the company announced on Monday.
Menahem Sevdermish, EGL's global manager, told industry members meeting at the Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE) that all company labs outside of North America will undergo a franchise re-certification process to ensure that a consistent color and clarity grading standard is maintained across the EGL network. The new standard will be based on one originally developed by EGL's founder, Guy Margel, decades ago, he said.
The new EGL standard complies with the recent decision on color grading by the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB), said Sevdermish. The WFDB announced last month that selling diamonds with grading reports that differ from accepted industry standards for color grading by more than one grade is sufficient grounds for the buyer to seek arbitration. The group specifically named the color grading scales set either by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or the International Diamond Council (IDC) as accepted industry standards.
For re-accreditation, labs will need to meet a professional threshold requirement set by management and the heirs to Margel's estate. All gemologists from labs seeking re-accreditation will attend a two-week refresher course in Israel. In the meantime, master stone sets used for color grading by all EGL labs are being sent to Israel to ensure that they are calibrated with a master set that will be held in Israel and based on the original standard set by Margel. EGL representatives will also visit EGL labs following their re-accreditation to ensure their operating procedures continue to meet EGL standards.
"Can EGL succeed as a lab if it is stricter in its color grading? We will see," said Sevdermish.
Sevdermish said EGL certificates still provide added value to the diamond trade by using both a D to Z color scale and a numerical system that reflected the old European method of color grading that was commonplace until the 1970s. EGL certificates will also retain a clarity grade of SI3 for stones below SI2 but in the top-end of the broad range of stones that the GIA considers I1.
EGL also encouraged those in the diamond trade that still possess certificates issued by the now-defunct EGL International lab to have those diamonds re-graded according to the new standard by one of the existing EGL labs at a significantly discounted cost.