The head of EGL South Africa said he was disappointed in RapNet’s ban of diamonds that carry European Gemological Laboratory reports, arguing his lab operates to the highest standards.
“Whilst I strongly agree with Martin Rapaport that action must be taken against any laboratory that issues overstated certification and in so doing damages consumer confidence in the diamond industry, I am very disappointed that EGL South Africa was grouped with some of the other EGLs around the world when it comes to ethics or grading policy,” said Alan Lowe, the lab’s managing director, in a statement.
He maintained his lab operates independently of other EGLs.
“We believe our Johannesburg laboratory is one of the best-equipped labs on the continent, and as such it allows us to certify diamonds to the highest international standards,” Lowe said.
In an interview this week, Rapaport Group chairman Martin Rapaport states banning all EGLs was necessary because not everyone can distinguish between them.
“Some of them may be better, but they are all under the same banner,” Rapaport says. “How is the consumer supposed to tell the difference? It is time for the legitimate EGLs to change their name. You can’t expect the consumer to tell the difference between EGL USA and EGL International.”
He says he decided to take this action because he felt the industry was enabling a “culture of misrepresentation.”
“You can’t say, ‘I don’t think this is an F, but the lab said it,’ ” he says. “You are hiding behind the report. A jeweler is absolutely liable for what he represents to the consumers. We are setting ourselves up to get our reputation destroyed.”
“When people say there is no grading standard, anything goes, and that is not acceptable me,” he says. “We have standards, and it is not a theoretical standard. You will see us enforcing that standard. If EGL International wants to say we are using a new grading system, fine. But if you are using GIA terminology you need to use the GIA standards.”
He adds that about 10 percent or more of the diamonds listed on the trading network, generally considered the largest in the industry, bear EGL reports.
“Maybe we will take a hit here, but we need to do what we need to do,” he says.
He has also banned green-tinted diamonds from his network, as diamonds from the Marange region of Zimbabwe generally show a green tint.