Diamonds / Industry

Sarine To Purchase GCAL—Here’s What That Means


Israeli equipment maker Sarine Technologies has signed a nonbinding memorandum of understanding to purchase a majority share in New York City–based grading lab Gem Certification & Assurance Lab (GCAL).

Terms were not announced. The all-cash agreement is subject to the standard due diligence reviews and to reaching a definitive and final agreement.

According to Sarine, “it is anticipated that GCAL’s principals will continue to run” the lab—including cofounder and president Don Palmieri; cofounder and vice president Pamela, Don’s wife; and their son Angelo, the lab’s chief operating officer.

Angelo tells JCK that his family is committed to continue running and having a stake in GCAL. He says the lab will still offer its 8X cut grading reports, as well as Gemprint certification, which is not part of this deal.

But GCAL will “transition” to using Sarine’s artificial intelligence-based e-grading, Angelo says.

“It will be an incremental approach,” he says. “But it is certainly the goal to be grading using AI.”

The deal means the GCAL–Sarine combo will have exclusive rights to North American customers, and to offering business-to-business grading reports for generic non-branded natural and lab-grown diamonds. Sarine will continue offering its services independently to its high-end branded luxury customers outside the United States—such as its recent deal with Cartier and Bulgari—and will still seek cooperative arrangements in other geographies.

But the vision is for GCAL to expand globally.

“Our conundrum has always been, with the expanding desire for GCAL services worldwide, how do we continue to offer our current high standards?” Angelo says. “So many of our vendors have asked, can we open in India and Dubai?

“When our peer labs have done that, they have lost control of their standards,” he asserts. “We now know that machine grading is the answer to our dilemma. Being able to bring our standards—which is the GIA standard—globally is a huge benefit to all of our customers.”

He says that GCAL’s faith in Sarine’s e-grading technology is demonstrated by GCAL continuing to offer its zero-tolerance certificates—which guarantees its grading to consumers. Don Palmieri says in the 15 years the guarantee has been offered, it’s paid out only three times.

GCAL will also offer Sarine’s Journey reports, which offer traceability for both natural and lab-grown diamonds.

Don Palmieri will continue to offer his expert witness services, separate from GCAL and Sarine.

Founded in 2001, GCAL has been purchased once before, by Collectors Universe, in 2005. It was later repurchased by the Palmieri Group when Collectors Universe exited the jewelry business in 2009.

Top: A Sarine e-grading machine (photo courtesy of Sarine Technologies)

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By: Rob Bates

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