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.
In most respects, Anthony is correct. Whilst I personally have had limited experience with Auscert gradings, I found their turnaround time to be superior and their grading to be spot on. When compared to overseas labs such as EGL and IGI, my opinion is that most, if not all Australian labs can do a better job than them, not to mention the myriad of overseas labs that “grade” mounted stones.
Unfortunately for local, second and third tier labs, diamond certificates are all about marketing to consumers – in fact – the truth is that they are not necessary at all. Back in the old days, certificates were rare – now they are a must have, as consumers seek more transparency and commoditisation (ability to compare from one vendor to another) when buying a diamond. This has meant that those labs who have weak marketing campaigns are seen to inferior to those that spend thousands, maybe millions on marketing.
However, the fact is that even “the best” labs are prone to errors, not to mention using archaic cut grading systems (eg: GIA). Therefore, it is always best to use a vendor who can grade the cut and make correctly and if possible, use an independent and local appraiser.
The main problem with Australian labs, that no one seems to understand or wants to talk about is that of acceptance. Whilst one jeweller may accept Auscert and say they’re the best thing since sliced bread, the jeweller across the road may rubbish Auscert and talk up DCLA.
These little “lab cliques” within the local industry are destroying the Australian diamond grading business, which, as mentioned before is one of the best in the world. Everytime a jeweller bad mouths one local lab over another local lab, they are not only destroying the reputation of the lab in question, but also the entire local industry.
Of course, there’s no prizes for guessing who started this all this, but as it stands, I, along with a lot of other diamond merchants will be sending our uncertified stones overseas, merely to avoid these silly “lab cliques”.