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  • (from left front row) AVR Reddy, Sumed Prasongpongchai, Yang Lixin and Chen Yu at the signing ceremony for AGA formation
  • Group Photos of NGTC and GII representatives during the Mumbai exchange tour

APAC authorities urge gemstone standardisation

Gemmological Institute of India (GII), National Gemstone Testing Center (NGTC), Gem & Jewelry Institute of Thailand (GIT) and China Gems & Jade Exchange (CGE) signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a Strategic Cooperation Agreement for Asia-Pacific Gemstone and Technology Standardisation Alliance (AGA) drafted by NGTC during the Global Jewellery Industry and Standardisation Forum at the Hong Kong international jewellery show in March this year. 

The prototype of AGA seeded in collaborations between GII and NGTC since 2017. The two oldest institutes in Asia providing formal training in gemmology, gemstones certification services and promote R&D in gemmology agree to exchange within the scope of grading standards development and acquisition and installation of new equipment, etc. NGTC visited GII’s laboratory in Bharat Diamond Bourse (BDB) and discussed diamond inspection process, instrument functions and troubleshooting methods the with Gem Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) president Praveenshankar Pandya and GII president Bakul Mehta during a one-week trip to Mumbai. Both parties then consented to extend the deliberation from bilateral to multilateral level which bought about the formation of the alliance. A Letter of Intent signed by GIT and NGTC to align standards of coloured stones certification especially for ruby and sapphire between Thailand and China in July 2018, a year after the cooperation between GII and NGTC has also paved the way for AGA. A comparison of their gemstones standards have been done in Beijing. 

AGA carries six missions: organises exchange visits among members’ laboratories; carries out technical and scientific research cooperation; shares market information; develops gemstones standards for the Asia Pacific region; sets uniform of nomenclature, technical methods and rules among members’ laboratories with internationally accepted protocols in Asia-Pacific region and monitors the implementation of standards. Members of the alliance believe harmonised standards will remove trade barriers among member countries. NGTC director Yang Lixin said: “Information sharing among industry peers with regard to the global trends in the jewellery trade and the consumer markets, as well as the use of uniform terminology, test methods, and other areas all help provide consumers with consistent information, minimising any apprehension they may have when it comes to investing in expensive jewellery.” 

During the forum, Yang pointed out that China has 24 mandatory national standards of gemstones nomenclature, testing and diamond grading formulated by a 45-member expert group and adopted by 493 jewellery laboratories across China. “The government has continuously worked on the convergence of Chinese and global standards. In line with that, we are striving to facilitate exchange and interaction, openness and inclusiveness, connectivity and the sharing of achievements across different industry sectors and in different regions within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative,” he added. 

India-based GII and GJEPC have buckled down on a similar process of standardisation in India as well. GII organised a half-day seminar ‘Present status on the developments in the area of colour stones and future Directions’ in late February in Mumbai. Shri Bakul R Mehta, GII chairman, explained the importance of harmonised protocols and standardisation of laboratories application and updates on the standardisation progress to 30 local gemstone traders. While GJEPC suggested the Indian government to separate the India Harmonised Code System Code for synthetic stones to provide clear differentiation between natural and synthetics. 

Sumed Prasongpongchai, business deputy director of GIT, said there is a similar alliance named Laboratory Manual Harmonisation Committee (LMHC) which gathers seven renowned laboratories around the world: Central Gem Laboratory (CGL) fromJapan, Centro Informazione e Servizi Gemmologici (CISGEM), Deutsche Stiftung Edelsteinforschung (DSEF), Gemological Institute of America (GIA),GIT-Gem Testing Laboratory, Gübelin Gem Lab and Swiss Gemmological Institute (SSEF) to suggest “preferable language to be used in the trade with the goal to achieve the harmonisation of gemological report language” for both nature and synthetic gemstones used by the members. LMHC issues Information Sheets (IS) once the definition and report wordings of a gemstone have come to a consensus. Thirteen IS regarding gemstones such as padparadscha sapphire, paraíba tourmaline, amber and pearl have been issued so far.

With Hong Kong as the world’s second largest jewellery auction hub, India as the polished diamond exporter accounting for 75 percent of the world supply and Thailand as one of the world's leading coloured gemstone cutting and trading centres, Asia pacific region has become the world largest gemstone trading and consumption hub as well as a leading market player. “Among the problems we face are trade barriers, differences in laboratory standards and nomenclature, loopholes in professional ethics and failures to protect local environments from the consequences of mining,” Yang commented. To tackle the mentioned issues head-on, AGA welcomes other organisations in or outside of the Asia-Pacific region to join the alliance in future. Meetings will be held soon to further define the form of collaboration 

and tasks. 


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