By Michelle Graff
New York--EGL USA laboratory plans to introduce a new, free diamond trading platform for the industry that will list certified diamonds from “all major labs”--but not any diamonds graded by EGL labs outside the United States.  

Like other diamond trading platforms, the site will offer basic inventory data on certified diamonds and provide posting and browsing capability, allowing wholesalers, dealers and jewelers to contact each other and do business directly. In addition, platform members will be able to register an unlimited number of users on each of their accounts. 

Mitch Jakubovic, director of EGL USA’s New York office, said there will be no charge for any users to list their diamonds on this new platform. 

“The new platform will be free, open, and independent,” Yaakov Tversky, who runs EGL USA’s Los Angeles office, said in a company statement. “And it will provide an immediate, no-cost solution for our business partners, who were unfairly displaced by RapNet.”

Diamonds graded by EGL USA, along with all other EGL labs, were removed from RapNet earlier this year due to ongoing complaints in the trade about some EGL laboratories overstating the quality of, or “over-grading,” diamonds. 

Polygon followed with an announcement that it would no longer list diamonds graded by EGL International but would continue to list stones graded by EGL USA. IDEX Online and GemFind said they would continue to list diamonds graded by all EGL labs. 

Following the ban, Rapaport Group Chairman Martin Rapaport has been particularly outspoken about the issue of over-grading, most recently publishing an editorial calling for an end to the practice. While acknowledging in the editorial that some EGLs have more ethical grading practices than others, Rapaport said having so many labs that use the EGL name causes nothing but confusion and allows EGL labs with sub-par practices to trade on the name of the more ethical EGLs.  

EGL USA, which has offices in New York and Los Angeles, has maintained throughout the controversy that it’s not affiliated with any of the EGL labs outside of the United States and does not deserve to be lumped together with other EGL labs accused of over-grading, regardless of its name. (EGL USA actually has been locked in a federal court battle with EGL International for the last 10 years over rights to the EGL name in the U.S., among other issues.)  

In an open letter responding to Rapaport’s editorial, the lab pointed out that a survey published by RapNet just last year stated that EGL USA’s standards are “comparable” to those of the Gemological Institute of America and the International Gemological Institute, “two decidedly ‘good’ labs that you (Rapaport) work with every day.” 

As of Friday, EGL USA was not releasing the official name or URL for the new diamond trading platform, nor the name of the “leading interactive firm” that will handle day-to-day maintenance of the site. That information, Jakubovic said, will be disclosed closer to the platform’s launch. 

The site initially will operate in beta format, meaning it will be nearly but not quite complete with additional features added over time. Jakubovic could not say Friday how long it would be before the platform is out of beta mode. 

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