66 STATE OF THE MAJORS 2018 THE STATE OF THE MAJORS THE DIAMOND INDUSTRY JEWELRY DESIGN THE COLORED STONE MARKET COME TOGETHER For some, in an ideal world the labs would stop including opin- ion-based findings such as origin and color designation altogether. TheAIGS’s Ho says his idea of harmonization is “all the labs remov(ing) the subjective comments from their reports.” (He did not respond to a follow-up email from National Jeweler asking ifAIGS had plans to do so.) Gemworld’s Robertson says, “I think we’re at a point now where it’s very difficult for the labs to withdraw from some of these practic- es because there’s so much paper in circulation. But I do think what they can do is start to phase it out.” But Boehm says that while some dealers feel that origin reports create confusion, many more feel they add value, credibility and confidence. What’s more, the spigot has been turned on, so to speak, and so the flow of grading reports containing origin and terms like “pigeon’s blood ruby” might not be so easy to turn off. One solution advocated by some that would allow for the inclusion of these factors while also potentially clearing up some of the confu- sion is lab harmonization. There’s already some groundwork being laid in this area. To start, labs sometimes communicate about individual stones when requested and permitted by the client, which might also in- clude the exchange of analytical data and a discussion about how the conclusion has been reached, Nyfeler says. Hughes says Lotus Gemology regularly meets with other gemol- ogists and shares information—privately, in scheduled meetings, at conferences and through publications—and notes that most of the major labs do the same. On a larger scale, conversations among labs about a more formal harmonization are taking place. A Laboratory Manual Harmonisation Committee has existed for many years, comprised of a number of the top labs in the trade that are working together to harmonize report language. They have pub- lished a number of informational handouts regarding use of language available for all laboratories to utilize. “I think most of the major labs, we don’t disagree that it would be a good thing to try to come closer, or to at least compare, what we’re doing with those colors,” the GIA’s McClure says. “I think we will do that.” He says they are working toward understanding the differences among labs and how they can or should adjust. Nearly three years ago, Gübelin and SSEF announced they had harmonized the criteria and the definition of the terms pigeon blood red and royal blue in an attempt to decrease the discrepancies between the two labs. “However, the devil is in the details, and minute differences in the in- terpretation of the criteria can make a specific stone pass the test at SSEF and make the same stone fail at Gübelin, or vice versa,” Nyfeler allows. Operating three labs on three continents, Gübelin knows that ensuring consistent color calls requires highly standardized tools, methods and processes, per- manent quality control and continuous training. “Consistency that goes beyond one company is even more demanding, and will never be 100 per- cent,” he says. “While the desire of the industry to have consistent results among all labs is understand- able, it is also unrealistic to expect different labs to [achieve full] global consistency.” There are some who still believe an international standard can and should happen. But Danat’s Scarratt says he doesn’t think it will—until the trade insists on seeing not only the reported results but also the supporting data and justified interpretation, which he would welcome. “I would like to see labs having a greater transparency in their operations.” Gübelin, for its part, is attempting to go this route by giving clients access not only to the final conclusion written on the lab report, but also to the underlying data collected for the stone. Nyfeler says by the end of this year, the lab plans to offer clients the option to get the analytical data and additional documentation, like microscopic imagery, to help end users understand the basis on which the lab is drawing a conclusion. But he also notes that while such measures might help in under- standing a lab result, they don’t necessarily solve the issue of inconsis- tencies among labs. “The most sustainable solution to overcome inconsistencies of gem lab results, specifically on origin and treatment, is a transparent supply chain/a proper chain of custody, tracking every step of a stone along its way from the mine to the retail shop,” Nyfeler says. Gemstone identification reports from Danat (at left) and AIGS (at right)