The Israeli diamond technology company, Sarine, has announced that has signed an MOU to purchase, subject to due diligence review, a majority share in GCAL, the New York-based diamond-grading laboratory for an undisclosed amount. It is an agreement that once may have raised eyebrows, but it should not, for the purchase will almost certainly be strategic.
Sarine, which is best known for its high-tech systems than scanning rough and polished diamonds, and plan cutting and polishing strategies, has also been a pioneer in the area of e-grading. Like it did in the diamond cutting industry, it may bring about a massive change in the diamond grading sector.
“We are thrilled by this opportunity to join forces with and acquire a major position in GCAL,” said David Block, Sarine’s CEO when the announcement of the deal was made. “I am confident that GCAL, leveraging Sarine’s technologies, will now be able to increase its market presence, to the benefit of the industry in general and to U.S. consumers, in particular, without degrading from their industry-unique principles of guaranteed quality and consistency. No less importantly, Sarine will gain access to the Palmieris’ decades-long experience in managing a gem lab with the highest standards possible, and will gain a recognised and respected channel through which to offer the expansive key U.S. retail industry its grading technologies, to the benefit of retailers and consumers alike.”
GCAL, or the Gem Certification & Assurance Lab, was founded in 2001 by Don Palmieri, a veteran of over 50 years in the diamond industry, and his wife, Pamela. Today, it operates as a family-owned business on 47th Street in New York City.
“Sarine’s introduction of its AI-derived and cloud-based eGrading has, for the first time ever, provided us with the means to resolve our conundrum of how to expand our business both locally and overseas beyond our immediate control, without compromising on our principles,” said Don Palmieri.
Sarine, which pioneered the development of high-tech systems for scanning rough and polished diamonds and planning cutting and polishing strategies, has delved into the area of e-grading.
LEARNING TO ‘THINK’ LIKE A GEMOLOGIST
Gemology is a discipline that was always likely to be transformed by artificial intelligence. For years, only one of the four Cs, namely caratage, could be definitely ascertained without the assistance of a trained gemologist, for it only involved weighing the stone on a sensitive scale.
In contrast the other three Cs – clarity, cut and color – all required examination by a gemologist, whose trained eye could differentiate slight differences in each of the categories, every one of which impact on the final asking price of the stone. Gemologists also required training to examine whether as stone showed fluorescence, was treated and possibly laboratory, often using equipment that typically would only be found in a gem-grading lab.
But the scanning technologies that Sarin developed, and particularly those that were able to look deep into the stone, could be adapted to measure automatically what before was done visually by a gemologist. At the very least they were able to provide raw data on the size, nature and frequency of inclusion, the proportion and angles of the stone and its facets, and the color that was seen when viewed from above.
What was required was understanding the raw data and interpreting it into a standard grade, the type of which would be printed on a grading report. That is where artificial intelligence came in, for the machine could be taught to fulfill the interpretative role of the gemologist, and arguably produce results in a more consistent manner.
With the essential scanning technology operating at facility of the diamond manufacturer of wholesaler, Sarine’s eGrading enables advanced grading processes to be completed on-site, eliminating the need to ship out diamonds to a lab.
The results of the scanned stone are uploaded to the Sarine cloud storage system in real time, where the algorithms grade the diamonds using AI, and the data is returned to the client. This process is managed independently by the client, so objectivity is assured with no outside interference.
THE ROLE OF THE GEM LAB
So if the technology is able to manage the process, why is grading lab required? Sarine did not elaborate, but it is fair to assume that a sizable number of consumers still prefer the certificate to be produced by a reputable lab.
“It is anticipated that following Sarine’s acquisition, GCAL’s principals will continue to run GCAL, and the lab will continue to offer its customers the same products and services they have come to rely upon,” Block stated.
“GCAL will be able to develop its services globally, while concurrently significantly expanding its services to U.S. retailers and wholesalers, without compromising its renowned stringent levels of quality and consistency., he continued. “Sarine and GCAL will exclusively cooperate on serving North American customers, as well as on offering the industry B2B reports for generic non-branded diamonds.”