Following an inaugural meeting on Friday 30th May in Las Vegas, a group of Gemmological experts representing organisations from around the world have formed a Task Force which is proposing an unprecedented scheme to establish international technical standards for diamond grading, including inter lab comparisons.
The initiative was launched by the Accredited Gemmologists Association, driven by consumer dissatisfaction with inconsistent grades and a specific concern that current procedures used to colour-grade fluorescent diamonds result in grades that are inaccurate, unscientific, and misleading. The principal objective was to determine standard light sources for grading fluorescent diamonds but discussions revealed that while the experts agreed that lighting standards must be re-examined, the urgent need for clearly defined technical procedures went far beyond this.
Respected Gemmologist Antoinette Matlins chaired the meeting and was delighted with the result: “I was optimistic that we’d put together a team that would make something happen, but certainly did not expect such an immediate and positive response,” she said. As a starting point, a “Task Force On Lighting and Gemstone Grading” has been formed, chaired by Chuck Bauer of Dazor Lighting, and including representatives from the University of Arizona, EGL/Canada, EGL/USA, Professional Gem Sciences Laboratory, Pennsylvania Gemmological Laboratory, with Don Palmieri of GCAL and Michael Allchin of AnchorCert Birmingham, UK in an advisory capacity.
The Task Force determined a need to establish illumination standards and procedural guidelines for the lighting used in grading diamonds and gemstones and to develop systems to ensure compliance among labs claiming to adhere to established standards. The team will gather additional data on the broad area of lighting and its impact on diamond and gemstone grading, explore possible alternatives and carry out inter lab comparisons.
AnchorCert Diamond Certification, a division of The Birmingham Assay Office in the UK, has agreed to draft the protocol for ‘round robin’ testing, and start the process with GCAL in New York. Both of these organizations are accredited to ISO 17025 which certifies the competence of testing and calibration laboratories, providing assurance of their strictly controlled procedures for diamond grading. One of the requirements of ISO is that organizations measure themselves against others in the market and so both are already familiar with this practice.
Michael Allchin, CEO for The Birmingham Assay Office is enthusiastic about the project. “The diamond industry needs proper international standards in order to provide comparable, meaningful, and credible diamond certification” says Michael. “Modern Diamond Grading relies upon expertise coupled with sophisticated technical equipment. It is as much about scientific measurement as personal judgement, and it makes sense for the technical aspects of grading to be more tightly defined. It is accepted practice for precious metal testing assayers to carry out ‘round robin’ testing; our experience suggests this will be of great benefit to the diamond certification bodies who get involved. A more consistent international diamond grading system will ultimately help both the trade and the consumer and everyone is welcome to join.”