The Gemological Institute of America has announced plans to open overseas labs in Southeast Asia, southern Africa, and what it terms the “major industry centers.”
GIA president Donna Baker said the first priority is for GIA’s Thailand colored stone lab to expand into diamond grading, which she says will happen relatively soon. The rest of the labs will open over the next few years, she said, although she had no dates or locations to offer at press time. “We plan a methodical approach,” she said, “carefully planned and implemented.”
As for maintaining standards in these far-flung locales, Baker said, “We pay attention to that every single minute of every day.” She added that GIA’s current strategic lab review, which aims to cut turnaround time, also is working to maintain quality standards across the board.
In the 1990s, GIA planned to open a lab in Antwerp but backed down after the proposal met with howls of outrage from New York dealers, who feared losing what they perceived as their exclusive access to the New York lab. So far, the new announcement has not drawn a similar reaction, since, in the intervening years, GIA opened a network of over-seas “take-in windows,” mostly run by Rapaport Corp.
GIA already operates 14 education facilities, four research centers, and three laboratories throughout North America, Asia, and Europe. An education center in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, is scheduled for completion next year.