In late November, Peter Yantzer retired after 20 years as executive director of the American Gem Society Laboratories. The following week, he spoke with JCK about his time at the lab and current industry issues.
Do you think that the AGS cut grade improved the quality of make in the industry?
Yantzer: Absolutely. We kept the zero cut grade at a really high standard. We introduced some factors into our system like weight ratio that plugged the hole of cutters killing fine makes by dinging the upper half so they could save on weight. A better-cut diamond is a better-looking diamond. That is my professional and personal opinion.
Another issue that has come up is different lab standards.
Yantzer: For a while to see what was going on I would go to Polygon and RapNet, and I would look at the stones that were listed. The market is really smart. The market knows how to price the goods. I would look at stones with the same grade and with one report they would be priced at Rap minus 14 percent, and another report would be priced at Rap minus 70 percent. What that says, just based on the asking prices, is that certain labs were not grading straight. The unfortunate thing is the consumer doesn’t have access to this information.
For a long time, this issue was like the skeleton in the industry’s closet. People just hoped it would go away. Now it has kind of come to a head, and the industry is trying to address it. But it’s a complex issue, and there is no easy fix.
Any thoughts on lab-grown diamonds?
Yantzer: The whole synthetic world is going to change the diamond world tremendously. I think the millennials are more in tune with it. Ten years ago, everyone was petrified about the Internet and worried that people would be out of business. But they just wanted to deny that it existed and hoped it would go away. I would not like to see the industry get into that mindset with synthetic diamonds. We have to start thinking about how we integrate them into the industry.