For the last few years, De Beers has operated the International Institute for Diamond Grading and Research (IIDGR), a lab that issues reports for Forevermark-branded diamonds. (The AGS Lab grades diamonds for it in the United States.) Earlier this year, the IIDGR opened a branch in Surat, which the Times of India said will put it into “direct competition” with IGI and GIA.
So is De Beers planning to open a lab for the trade, as Rapaport is?
No, says IIDGR president Jonathan Kendall, though he is sure to add qualifiers such as “for the near future.”
“Forevermark is taking up all the capacity we have,” he says. “We are not looking to go up against anyone else in the market.”
The Surat lab will bulk-screen melee as a service, using De Beers’ automated melee screener, Kendall says. The IIDGR also does some private-label grading and grades diamonds for sightholders who request it—but that is it, Kendall says (while adding “for now”).
“If you want to get into generic [grading] you need to be 100 percent committed,” he says. “There is a significant opportunity, but you have to go into it with a commitment that is very, very strong.”
The IIDGR is also noteworthy as one of the most automated labs: It uses an automated color screener and hopes to have its automated clarity screener operational within the next 12 months. “We hope to use more technology, rather than less,” Kendall says, adding that will eventually mean quicker turnover and lower costs.
The ultimate goal is to build a business, he says—but slowly.
“You have to make sure that you are consistent with your standards and you don’t fall into the trap of expanding too quickly,” he says.
The IIDGR also sells devices, including the synthetic detectors DiamondSure and DiamondView.
Kendall also wants the trade to know that, within the last year, DiamondSure added a new attachment that can detect lab-grown stones that are mounted in jewelry.
“The synthetic story has moved to jewelry, so we specifically developed this probe for jewelry,” he says. “It is a very important technological advance, and we are struggling to get people to realize it is there.”