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Tom Moses: Automation May Give More Consistency But Not Accuracy

Tom Moses

Tom Moses, Executive Vice President, Chief Laboratory and Research Officer and member of the Governing Board of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), was in Mumbai recently. He spoke to GEMKonnect Chief Editor Vinod Kuriyan on a range of issues, including the likely impact of fully automated diamond grading.

Excerpts from the interview:

  • There has been a lot of talk and speculation about the recently-announced Sarine automated grading system. What is your assessment of a fully automated grading system? Are we at a point where technology can remove at least a major chunk of the subjectivity in a grade?

I am not aware of the technology that Sarine is using, but GIA has been involved in supplementing visual grading with instrumentation for several decades. The first GIA colorimeter developed was in the 1940s and we have continued to add more instrumentation into the grading process.

As you are aware, we introduced Facetware a number of years ago that is integrated into measurement scanners that gives a predicted GIA cut grade. GIA will continue to add technology and automation to the grading process, but without a deep understanding of the GIA system, automation may lead to more consistency but not greater accuracy.

  • Technology is increasingly meeting the challenges posed by synthetics and enhancements, and has now even taken on the job of high-quality grading. But what impacts the value of a diamond is the assurance to the consumer behind the certificate it carries. So now increasingly, the need appears to be effective consumer-oriented communications that establish the brand behind a certificate and thus the assurance it carries. Is the GIA looking towards greater directly consumer-oriented messaging?

I generally agree with your comments, although the challenge of treatment identification is a dynamic issue that requires significant research efforts with well-trained staff. GIA is looking at how we can reach the consumer more effectively. Protecting the consumer is a key tenet of the GIA non-profit mission.

  • On the subject of the brand behind a diamond certificate, is there a possibility that fully automated grading systems that can be accessed by consumers at retail outlets might render branded certification redundant?

I suppose that is possible, but I believe a potential challenge of brand self-certification is the lack of independence from a brand.

  • Provenance is now the next big requirement from the consumer. How much of the GIA’s future efforts would you think will be focussed on chain-of-custody systems?

Are you familiar with the GIA M2M program? We have invented significantly in tracking rough to polished, but not only with an audit trail, but with innovative technology.

  • In terms of cheating and fraudulent business practices, what in your opinion is the single biggest technical challenge that laboratories face today?

With regard to fraudulent business practices, I am less familiar with these issues. From a technical standpoint, the correct identification of treatment and synthetics continues to be a priority for GIA.

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