EGL International Aims to Strengthen Ties

According to Guy Margel, president of the European Gemological Laboratories (EGL), EGL and its affiliates in eight countries—England, Belgium, France, Republic of South Africa, Israel, Turkey, India, and Korea—agreed at a recent conference in Antwerp to promote their brand and improve communication and standardization among themselves.

Margel founded the first EGL facility in Antwerp in 1974. Its affiliate laboratories are independently owned and operated. EGL New York and EGL Los Angeles originally were part of that international brand.

The consensus at the recent meeting was that there is a need for improved communication among the labs. Margel believes this will “enhance their ability to share information when dealing with customer inquiries, which will lead to speedier problem solving and increased customer satisfaction.”

To that end, the directors of the EGL affiliates agreed to meet annually and to send senior graders from their laboratories to visit the other affiliates. In addition, Margel has agreed to finance a set of “test” diamonds through EGL South Africa. These stones will be used as a reference for all the affiliates. Alan Lowe of EGL South Africa was named EGL conference chairman for 2004-2005, with the responsibility of serving as liaison among EGL’s affiliates.

The affiliates also concurred that each EGL laboratory has “a pivotal role to play in promoting the EGL brand.” According to the press release, one of the advantages of close cooperation was “evidenced by the EGL International affiliate in Israel recently having helped train EGL-USA gemologists in the detection of laser drilling methods.”

That’s a curious testimonial from the international group, given that the EGL USA group of labs—which now includes Los Angeles, Toronto, and Vancouver—has seceded from the international union.

According to the EGL USA Web site, “EGL USA is not affiliated with any other EGL labs outside North America. Every certificate issued by our lab states ‘A member of the EGL USA Group.’ Certificate numbers are preceded by either ‘US’ or ‘CA,’ to indicate country of origin and to provide consumers the assurance that their certificate has been issued by a member of the EGL USA Group.”

This is in concert with last fall’s notice that, based on trademark infringement, EGL USA would try to stop any EGL international diamond grading reports from entering the country, according to the lab’s attorney, Robert Hanlon. (See JCK July 2003, p. 33, “EGL-USA Requests Customs Ban on Illegal Certificates.”)

At press time, the issue was still unresolved.