EGL South Africa Head Upset With RapNet EGL Decision

EGL South Africa Managing Director Alan Lowe has issued a statement regarding his lab in response to a RapNet press release issued on September 9 regarding its suspension of EGL diamond certificates.

However, the Global Diamond Portal is inviting members of the diamond industry around the world to continue uploading their diamond stocks to the site, regardless of the certificate with which they are provided.

“Whilst I strongly agree with Martin Rapaport that action must be taken against any laboratory that issues overstated certification and, in so doing, damages consumer confidence in the diamond industry, I am very disappointed that EGL South Africa was grouped with some of the other EGL laboratories around the world when it comes to ethics or grading policy,” Lowe wrote.

"EGL South Africa (EGL SA) has been in business for 34 years and during this time has never been accused or found guilty of any wrong doing in grading of diamonds. I was the founding managing director of EGL SA and I have always made it my mission to ensure that we produce certificates to the highest international standards based on sound gemological criteria. We believe our Johannesburg laboratory is one of the best equipped labs on the continent and, as such, it allows us to certify diamonds to the highest international standards.”

“EGL SA has two laboratories in South Africa. Its head office is based in Johannesburg and the second laboratory is situated in Cape Town. The company operates independently from any other EGL laboratory globally and grades diamonds according to acceptable international grading standards. The South African company is 20 percent owned by its managing director with the balance of shareholders residing overseas. EGL SA only does grading at its own facilities in Johannesburg and Cape Town and this is clearly stated on all reports and certificates. EGL SA is one of only two big diamond grading laboratories in South Africa.

“Alan Lowe as managing director of EGL South Africa, has been a member in good standing of the Diamond Club of South Africa (DCSA) for many years and also serves on the DCSA executive.”

Earlier this month, RapNet announced that as of October 1, diamond grading reports from all European Gemological Laboratories (EGL) would no longer be listed on the RapNet Diamond Trading Network. “RapNet is concerned about the misrepresentation of diamond quality by laboratories that use Gemological Institute of America (GIA) grading terminology while applying alternative grading standards that overstate the quality of diamonds. While some EGL grading reports are more consistent with GIA grading standards than others, there is, in our opinion, confusion and inconsistency among the various EGL grading reports; RapNet has therefore decided not to list any EGL grading reports on RapNet.

“RapNet recognizes that GIA and other diamond laboratory grading is based on human evaluation and is therefore subjective. We recognize that a difference of one color and one clarity between diamond grading reports from the same or different laboratories is within a reasonable tolerance range. We reject the idea that there is no diamond grading standard and caution RapNet members not to use GIA grading terminology to describe diamonds that are below a reasonable tolerance range of the GIA standard. RapNet members using GIA terminology are required to honestly communicate diamond quality based on the GIA standard.”

On September 9, RapNet announced that as of October 1, diamond grading reports from all European Gemological Laboratories (EGL) would no longer be listed on the RapNet Diamond Trading Network.

Earlier this year a TV station Nashville broadcast a program claiming that a local company, Genesis Diamonds, was selling jewelry with diamonds whose grading reports, provided by EGL International, were too generous.

There are three lawsuits filed in the United States against Genesis Diamonds relating to certificates provided with its diamonds.

Eli Richardson, Genesis Diamond's attorney, told that the store stands by what it sells. "All grading is subjective, and EGL International is known to be more lenient than GIA," Richardson said. "That does not make EGL International certifications fraudulent, just more lenient."

Israeli diamantaires held a meeting with Rapaport about his decision and expressed their anger, saying that it could affect the value of their stocks.

EGL Israel, based in the Israel Diamond Exchange was not available for comment.

Meanwhile, MID House of Diamonds has moved to assure its clients regarding the decision concerning the suspension of EGL certificates. “We are sure that there is a little concern about this from your side,” the firm wrote in an email sent to customers. “We are dedicated to make sure that you will not be affected and that the transition will be smooth.

There are more than $500 million of diamonds certified by EGL annually. “There has been a strong demand for many years and EGL is a very acceptable and important product in the diamond industry.

“In every consumer market there are always price points. Price points are what make up the retail market in our world. The consumers need to be given a choice on what they want and can afford. It is our Job to clarify exactly what they are buying and if it meets their expectations, then it is their choice to purchase it.”

“Our website will continue to host 4,000 EGL's in all shapes, colors and sizes,” MID added.