With larger overseas labs such a the GIA taking the lion’s share of the certified diamond market, it can be hard for smaller or localised labs to compete. However, there are a number of small labs, including those in Australia that do an excellent job of certification, yet are ignored by consumers and the trade alike.
With labs such as the GIA erring on the conservative side (GIA still has little cut information for fancy shapes), there exists a huge opportunity for smaller labs to take the initiative and offer niche or boutique services to both the trade and consumers. These services could include:
- Grading optical symmetry. Lab graded symmetry rarely correlates to optical symmetry and no ways to grade light performance these days, yet only a handful of labs, most notably the AGS do it.
- Light performance. There seem to be a million ways to grade light performance these days, yet only a handful of labs, most notably the AGS do it.
- Offer an “E-Certificate”. This is essentially a diamond certificate designed for internet selling. Much like we already do, the E-Certificate could include a photo, Sarin and light performance information and maybe an Ideal-Scope image and video.
- Grade”eye-cleanliness”. With more and more non-eyeclean SI1 and SI2s being graded nowadays, grading eye-cleanliness would belp buyers, especially internet buyers, decide between SI clarity stones. This would involve viewing the stone in various lighting conditions by multiple people to decide if it is eye-clean or not. Much better than vendor definitions, don’t you think?
- Offer a jewellery certification service. Diamond certification comments on the quality of the diamond and valuations provide an estimated value, but no independent service comments on the quality of jewellery manufacture.
However, it seems nowadays it’s not good enough to offer a good and accurate service – you need the marketing to go with it. Ways to do this include:
- Making a video. Both the AGS and GIA have done this. Alternatively, labs could also distribute DVDs. When producing the video, make sure to focus on the 4Cs, as there seems to be no information online or in print regarding the 4Cs. Brownie points can be scored by criticising other labs.
- Give better cut grades. For example, if one lab gives an excellent grade, give an ideal grade. If one lab gives an ideal grade, give a “super-ideal” or “Tolkowsky ideal” grade. Likewise, if a lab grades to IDC rules with cut grades of very good, good and unusual, it is important to extend these rules to give excellent and ideal grades.
- Print prettier certificates. The better looking the certificate, the better the lab right? Just don’t try to compete with the AGS.
- Create some kind of brand for the lab. This could be independent of the lab, or just some in-store signage that retailers can use.
- Make some affiliations or endorsements. For example, GSL is endorsed by the Gemmological Association of Australia. DCLA is internationally recognised and fully compliant.
As you can see, whilst the certified diamond market is growing, smaller labs need to both create and market themselves as a superior to the big boys such as the GIA and IGI and with a little creativity, it’s not a hard thing to do!