GIA to Open Johannesburg Laboratory

The Gemological Institute of America is planning to open a laboratory in Johannesburg, South Africa, and expand its educational offerings.

Tom Moses, senior vice president, GIA Laboratory and Research, said at a press conference in Johannesburg Monday that starting in early September, GIA will begin absorbing the laboratory operations of the Jewellery Council of South Africa. The JCSA will continue to operate its other interests, but GIA will take on the JCSA’s laboratory functions.

“GIA is making itself available to its ever-growing number of international clients,” Moses said. “Our international laboratory business has grown significantly in the last decade and it is our desire to be more accessible to our clients. By being in key producing and consuming regions, we can better promote GIA standards, and shorten the distance between all our customers and ourselves.”

Moses said JCSA’s current executive director, Leslie (Les) Milner, will become the director of the GIA Johannesburg Laboratory. Moses also announced GIA’s timetable for full implementation of the new program. 

In September, the JCSA lab will commence operating as a “take-in window” or “consolidator” for GIA and its customers, thereby joining the GIA Lab Direct Network. Submissions will be invited from Botswana and Namibia as well as South Africa.

In early October, an experienced team of JCSA laboratory diamond graders will visit the U.S. for training in the methodologies of GIA’s standards. They will then return to Johannesburg in late 2007 and be joined by veteran U.S. graders and management from GIA to begin an eventual establishment of full laboratory services.

In early 2008, GIA will formally open GIA South Africa, Laboratory in Johannesburg, limiting its initial offerings the GIA Diamond Dossier Report, which covers stones ranging from 0.15 cts. up to 1.99 cts. GIA said the laboratory will eventually offer services for all sizes and types of diamonds, colored stones. Those items GIA is not presently prepared to service in Johannesburg will be shipped to the U.S. for work.

This announcement comes three months after GIA Board of Governors approved global expansion plans. GIA did not elaborate on educational offerings they are planning in South Africa.

“We believe GIA’s Education offerings can be very valuable both to the manufacturers and retailers here, and will provide additional opportunities for the local population,” Moses said. “We currently offer classes locally; however, it is our intention to expand those offerings.”