GIA Gem Laboratory is expanding to meet demand

The Gemological Institute of America is expanding its East Coast and West Coast laboratory to meet increased demand, the institute said.

Construction has begun at the GIA Laboratory headquarters at 580 Fifth Ave., and at the institute’s Carlsbad, Calif., laboratory location. GIA said the laboratory has been focused on growth for some time, and through aggressive hiring, the laboratory has increased its grading, gemological identification, research, and support staffs to nearly 700. The expansions will allow the laboratory to continue growing at the same pace, GIA said.

When construction is complete, the New York location will have added 11,500 sq.ft., for a total of 32,500 sq. ft. GIA will more than double its laboratory space in Carlsbad by adding almost 45,000 sq.ft., for a total of 85,500 sq.ft..

Construction at both locations is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year. In New York, this includes remodeling the former education center (relocated to 270 Madison Ave.) and adding space on the third floor to expand the Grading Laboratory. Renovations of the grading laboratory, research, identification services, and other laboratory-support functions on both coasts are either in progress or scheduled.

GIA Laboratory CEO Thomas C. Yonelunas said that since 2001, the total number of items processed by the Institute’s laboratory has increased by more than 20% each year. In 2004 alone, the demand for all GIA Laboratory diamond grading services increased by 22%, GIA Diamond Dossier services by 49%, its fancy color diamond services by 28.5%, and its diamond inscription services by 35%.