EGL International, the lab that has become a flash point in the dispute over diamond grading, is shutting down, says Menahem Sevdermish, the EGL network’s new global manager.
The Ramat Gan, Israel–based lab will “soon cease to exist,” Sevdermish says, with the “International” brand name being phased out.
EGL International CEO Guy Benhamou did not return a request for comment at press time.
Sevdermish was recently appointed the European Gemological Laboratory network’s global manager, with a mandate to develop and maintain homogenous grading standards across EGL-branded labs. (EGL USA remains independent of the network and is not affected by this reorganization.) The move comes in the wake of RapNet’s decision to ban all EGL reports from its trading platform, citing inconsistent grading standards from the different labs.
The new network—which encompasses the EGL labs in Asia, India, Belgium, and South Africa, as well as Sevdermish’s Israel-based lab, EGL Platinum—will show consistency in reports and grading standards, Sevdermish says.
“Grading will all be controlled,” he says. “There will be one type of certificate, not 10 types. All the labs will be under one umbrella. We will make sure all the masters are the same, and we will train and fine-tune each laboratory.”
But he stresses the grading will be done to EGL’s traditional standards, not necessarily GIA’s.
“Our masters were also slightly different than GIA masters,” he says. “It’s the system we have used for 40 years. We used to give grades of 0, 1, 2, 3. But we went to D-E-F because that is what took over.”
The system sometimes results in a one-grade bump up in the higher colors, he says.
“We take into consideration the way the stone looks not only from the side, which is how the GIA taught everybody to do, but also from the top,” he says. “So a nice GIA G may be an F.”
In the lower grades (J, K, L, M), the difference can be more pronounced, as founder Guy Margel did not believe in yellow grades, says Sevdermish. It has also added SI3 to the traditional clarity scale. Sevdermish says he may write an article spelling out the differences in the two systems.
“Who is to say the GIA scale is better than EGL’s?” he asks. “The problem is when it’s abused. You can’t see a five-grade difference, like you see in certain court cases in America. I want to stop the abuse.”
He hopes the reorganization will lead Martin Rapaport to reconsider his EGL ban.
“It is unfair to suddenly [tarnish] all the EGLs, including [EGL South Africa director] Alan Lowe, the people in the U.S., and other honest people,” he says.
He argues that RapNet still lists other labs that deviate from the GIA scale and show inconsistent standards among their different branches. He admits, though, that Rapaport’s action has sparked the desire to change the network.
“EGL was always my passion,” Sevdermish says. “It is my baby. I always admired Guy Margel. If there was abuse, I’m going to clean it up and make sure the EGL name is one you can be proud of.”