GCAL Certification: Diamond Grading Review

Sharif Khan
Sharif Khan
Last Updated    EST 
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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 a reputable lab has carefully analyzed and professionally graded the stone. 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 assures that a buyer is investing in such a stone whose value and cost correlate. The lab’s primary mission 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, implying that their processes are not subject to undue influence.

Sarine Technologies acquired a majority stake in GCAL in January 2023. Learn more here.

Read our insights on the best grading labs in the world. Also, search & watch loose diamonds in super HD 360° here.

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 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 organic, inorganic, radiochemistry, and numerous other specialty testing techniques—all to uncover the level of contaminants in various products.

As expected, the lab employs cutting-edge technology to ensure that the entire of its 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, GCAL is always happy to take it up.

The GCAL grading reports are generally consistent with reputable firms like 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.

The GCAL reports usually feature close-up shots of the diamond's laser inscriptions for authenticity.

How GCAL Works

GCAL employs cutting-edge technology in its diamond grading processes. To ensure maximum accuracy while 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 process happens via microscopes and other equipment 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 the evaluators uncovered in the diamond.

The GCAL evaluators assign a unique identification number to their reports for trackability and reference purposes. 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 their desired inscriptions. For instance, a client might have them inscribe a company logo, image, or a short slogan on the diamond.

Management Structure

The GCAL’s management team consists of the company’s CEO, Operations Manager, Technical Services Director, and 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 the company’s accurate and consistent gem grading goals are always met.

Their history of excellence is evidenced by the many state certifications 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 of 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 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, GCAL is also keen to understand their client’s requirements.

The lab endeavors to respond to concerns with integrity and urgency by keeping their client’s best interests at heart.

3. Lastly, the model ensures consistency when reporting across all parameters owing to the fact that 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.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to diamond grading, nothing matters more than the consistency of the issued reports. However, 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.