The early to mid-2000s proved to be the heyday for Australian diamond grading laboratories. At its peak, there were five major labs - ADGL, Auscert, Bauer Gem Labs, DCLA and GSL. Diamonds certified by these five labs dominated the Australian diamond industry - from chain stores to high end retailers. Nowadays, the popularity of these certificates have dramatically declined, at least one of the aforementioned labs has closed and no new labs have opened, including the much hyped, or some say maligned, EGL Australia.
Last week, a furore erupted in the Australian jewellery industry over The JAA promoting Rapnet. Essentially, this promotion of Rapnet (which is a website which allows buyers and sellers from all around the world to trade diamonds) was seen by many as a way of bypassing local diamond wholesalers and giving business to diamond vendors overseas - certainly not what the JAA should want to promote?!
A recent editorial in Jeweller Magazine calls for the banning of jewellery valuations on new jewellery, arguing that a piece of jewellery bought for $700 one day can then be mysteriously valued at $4000 the next day. The article then goes on to say that jewellery is the only everyday consumer product that valuations exist for, since TVs or furniture don’t have valuations.
From time to time, we get asked why our prices are so cheap. Whilst I don’t like answering that question, my standard answer usually includes statements like “our overheads are lower”, “we buy directly from the manufacturer”, “we manufacture our jewellery in-house” and so on a so forth. Anyway, today I was reading in the Australian Jeweller Magazine, an article about jewellery industry benchmarks in respect to cost of goods sold, labour and rent.
“Brass and Glass” is the affectionate name given to silver replica rings set with cubic zirconias. It essentially allows jewellery shoppers to try on rings and other jewellery before they buy so they can see what it looks like on their hand, whilst keeping inventory cost for the retailer at a minimum.
For a potential diamond buyer, it is easy to research online and find out which are the best diamond grading labs located overseas. For example, GIA and AGS have a stellar reputation, whilst IGI and EGL don’t.
Ronnie Bauer, the current Federal Chairman of the GAA has just been awarded the Association’s only Diploma in Gemmology (Diamonds). At the same time he also was awarded the Association’s accredited Diploma in Gemmology and Diploma in Gemmology (valuations). “I feel very honoured to be the first and currently the only recipient of the Diploma in Gemmology (Diamonds).” Said Ronnie, “ But that’s it! At 53 I don’t want to do any more exams.” That statement however was short lived. Ronnie revealed in the next breath that he has enrolled in the GAA’s jewellery sketching and design courses.
In the May issue of the trade publication Jeweller, Anthony Bates of SGTL (Auscert) sounds off about local vs international labs. In the article, he states that he got a call from a retailer who perceived Auscert’s certificates to be inferior to those produced overseas. He then goes on to counter the retailer’s claim and explain why local labs such as Auscert are actually superior to those overseas.