Buying diamonds comes with mixed feelings of excitement and fear. A buyer would want to invest in the highest-quality stone but may not be sure about its integrity and value. This predicament is oftentimes further exacerbated by the fact that it is hard to take dealers at their word. Amid such confusion, a written guarantee is required to prove that the stone has been carefully analyzed and professionally graded by a reputable lab, and this is exactly what the GCAL offers.
The Gem Certification & Assurance Lab is one of the most reputable third-party diamond grading labs. Their certification is an assurance that a buyer is investing in such a stone whose value and cost correlate. The primary mission of the lab is to analyze and test diamonds, grade them, and issue consistent reports depending on their overall quality.
The lab continually forges and maintains high standards in diamond grading and certification. Diamond grading reports by GCAL labs are consistent and valid given that the lab is an independent entity, thereby also implying that their processes are not subject to undue influence.
The History of GCAL and the Sanctity of Their Reports
The history of the GCAL dates back to 1978 when Dr. Phillip W. West and Dr. Mannie D. Paine opened a 2,500 square-foot lab—known at the time as West-Paine Laboratories—in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Efforts from like-minded gemologists saw the lab rise in both reputation and scale, and in 2000, the GCAL was officially established in New York City. From then onwards, it has been on a consistent growth trajectory, expanding into the 22,000 square feet giant entity that it is known as today.
The GCAL maintains expertise in gem analysis, with special interests in diamond grading and certification. Being the only gemological lab to guarantee their clarity and color grades, this analytical lab conducts all kinds of environmental testing procedures besides gem testing. The GCAL analytical testing processes encompass both organic, inorganic, radiochemistry, and numerous other specialty testing techniques—all in a bid to uncover the level of contaminants in various products.
As can be expected, the lab employs cutting-edge technology to ensure that the entirety of their findings has the least error margins. They presently employ over 70 scientists, each of whom brings a different level of experience and expertise to the firm. No matter the size or magnitude of a project, the GCAL is always happy to take it up.
The GCAL grading reports are generally consistent with those of other reputable firms, such as the GIA and the AGS. Such reports are often as detailed as possible, and while drawing attention to a diamond’s Four Cs, they also go a notch higher by investigating other aspects of a stone. The finer details will be uncovered, such as the diamond’s actual size relative to the size that the report indicates, often illustrated in a proportion diagram noting the actual size and specific dimensions of the stone.
For authenticity purposes, the GCAL reports usually feature close-up shots of laser inscriptions on the diamond.
How GCAL Works
As already mentioned, the GCAL employs cutting-edge technology in all of its diamond grading processes. To ensure maximum accuracy while still avoiding conflicts of interest, the lab works in partnership with independent and internationally recognized laboratories. Each diamond presented at the GCAL labs is independently evaluated as it should be since every stone is unique.
The process begins by analyzing gems based on the Four Cs—color, cut, clarity, and carat weight. It then proceeds to examine the finer details, such as the polish and fluorescence. The entire process happens via the aid of microscopes and other equipment that are scientifically designed for accuracy and consistency. The final stage involves issuing a report based on the individual attributes of the diamond. The report will also feature a visual map pointing out any inclusions that the evaluators uncovered in the diamond.
For trackability and reference purposes, the GCAL evaluators assign a unique identification number to their reports. Moreover, for an extra layer of security, the technicians may add a microscopic inscription on a gem. To avoid suspicion, it is important to note that these inscriptions do not mar the quality of the stone. In most cases, evaluators consult their clients on the kind of inscriptions they desire. For instance, a client might have them inscribe a company logo, image, or a short slogan on the diamond.
Management and Organization Structure
The GCAL’s management team consists of the company’s CEO, Operations Manager, a Technical Services Director, and an IT Director, not to mention other departments such as sales and marketing. The company strives to foster a synergic relationship among all team members. It does not matter the position one holds; one must abide by the team philosophy and adhere to the set standards. This ensures that the company’s goals of accurate and consistent gem grading are always met.
Their history of excellence is evidenced by the many state certifications that the lab enjoys. For instance, it boasts a 541380 certification by the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS). Besides, the lab maintains Dod, ELAP, NELAP, and ISO 17025 certifications. It is also one of the few gem grading labs that perform the ILM-CLP and OLM methodologies.
What Keeps GCAL Going?
GCAL maintains a single-facility business model that not only eases management work but also ensures that all the set objectives are met. Operating a single-facility model has numerous other advantages as enumerated below:
1. It offers clients the peace of mind knowing that their samples are handled in one location. They do not need to worry about any inconveniences that would normally result from paperwork, error, shipping, or extra points of contact.
The fact that samples are handled in one location also simplifies the Chain of Custody, thereby minimizing the risks of error.
2. The single-facility model makes it possible for the GCAL to manage their clients’ needs, queries, and concerns in real-time. A client can work directly with project managers to expedite the grading process. The gem evaluators are always willing to listen and factor in their clients’ inputs. While they strive to deliver quality services, the GCAL is also keen to understand their clients’ requirements.
By and large, the lab endeavors to respond to concerns with integrity and a sense of urgency by keeping their clients’ best interests at heart.
3. Lastly, the model ensures consistency when reporting across all parameters owing to the fact all the testing and grading equipment is similar. Besides, the facility also uses similar Electronic Data Deliverable formats; one reason why it reduces the inconveniences a client would otherwise encounter when working with multiple-site gem labs.
When it comes to diamond grading, nothing matters more than the consistency of the issued reports. But finding a lab that offers reliable reports is akin to looking for a needle in a haystack. Thankfully, one does not have to look any further. Entrust GCAL labs with any project and watch them deliver.