INTERVIEW – Advent of digital gemstone trading will boost need for efficient and nimble lab certification, senior gemmologist says

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By David Brough

The rapid development of digital gemstone trading will boost the requirement for efficient, accurate and swift lab certification and will lead to increased demand for identification of origin and telling a stone’s story, a senior gemmologist said.

Kenneth Scarratt, one of the world’s best known gemmologists, who is managing partner of ICA GemLab in Bangkok, said the requirement for certification by labs will be stronger than ever as digital trading platforms grow.

ICA GemLab prepares reports for gemstones consigned to Gembridge, a Singapore-regulated trading platform for gemstones, jewellery and pearls set to launch in early 2021.

ICA GemLab, Bangkok
ICA GemLab, Bangkok

 

“Lab certification in the digital world becomes even more important,” Scarratt told Jewellery Outlook in a telephone interview on December 7, 2020.

Gemmologist Kenneth Scarratt
Kenneth Scarratt

 

The authenticity of the lab report about a gemstone reinforces trading with trust, especially when clients are trading remotely, he added.

Most clients of ICA GemLab currently request identification of the origin of gemstones, and this trend is expected to increase.

ICA GemLab, Bangkok
ICA GemLab, Bangkok

 

Fifty years ago, clients typically wanted to know if a stone was natural or treated. These days they request much more detail, notably about the supply chain.

Millennial jewellery consumers want to know where a gemstone came from and seek reassurance that no one was exploited during the stone’s journey from mine to finger, and that environmental impact from mining was minimal.

“Origin determination is not just about client compliance. It is about telling the story,” Scarratt said.

Gembridge plans to expand its descriptions of gemstones to tell as much of the story as possible.

QUALITY STANDARDS

Labs will have to maintain the highest qualitative standards, while adapting efficiently to requests for a rapid appraisal of gemstones in digital transactions.

“Digital trading will put pressure on labs to turn around faster,” Scarratt said.

“It is up to the labs themselves to ensure that we have the internal procedures, to allow us to get the job done faster without reducing the pertinence of the information in the report.”

Labs’ work was already evolving digitally before the advent of digital trading platforms: the introduction in the last few years of QR codes enables clients to download PDF reports via a lab’s website, reducing risks of fake reports.

ICA GemLab embraces state-of-the-art technologies in its quest to deliver accurate information to its clients.

“For ICA GemLab it is inherent in the operations that we have to be nimble -– we have to be able to respond,” Scarratt said.

INTERVIEW – Advent of digital gemstone trading will boost need for efficient and nimble lab certification, senior gemmologist says
ICA GemLab, Bangkok

 

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