European Gemological Laboratory Expands Into Canada
As Canada joined the ranks of diamond producing countries, many foreign-based companies that provide down-stream processing –the cutting, polishing, evaluating and marketing of stones–began looking north with an eye for expansion and new opportunities. One such company was privately owned, New York-based European Gemological Laboratory (EGL), a full-service lab providing a wide range of services to evaluate and certify diamonds and coloured stones.
In less than a year, the company established a lab in Vancouver and more recently another in Toronto because, according to EGL USA’s director Michael Gersburg, Canada represents a significant opportunity. “Right now Canada is a small market compared to the US but it’s growing and with a lab in Vancouver and another in Toronto, we think we are very well positioned,” states Gersburg. Currently the EGL evaluates approximately 30,000 to 40,000 stones a month, primarily in its New York and Los Angeles locations.
The decision to come to Canada was based not only on the dawning of diamond mining in Canada’s north but also on the development a new diamond marketplace in Canada. “There’s no question our lab in Vancouver, which is also a research centre, was established because of its proximity to the diamond mines. Our lab in Toronto services the further developing wholesale and retail markets as well as providing services for individual clients,” explains Gersburg.
Established in 1974, EGL’s primary business is to provide identification, certification and validation of mounted or loose diamonds as well as pearls, jade and other coloured stones. It is also, however, heavily involved in research on topics including determination of the country of origin for diamonds and the determination of whether a stone has been subjected to high-pressure high-temperature (HPHT) enhancement. They are the only North American lab that grades and certifies rough diamonds.
An opinion by EGL on the origin of rough diamonds is possible through the “passportisation of mine” technique, first developed in Russia. This technique is significant because is used to authenticate where a stone was mined and to ensure that it was not derived from a so-called “conflict country”. It is accomplished by examining the morphological characteristics, impurities and isotopic composition of several hundreds of diamond chips and crystals from a particular source. Similar examinations of diamonds from other sources were also collected. The resulting database can then be used to compare diamonds from an unknown origin.