Gem Laboratories & Details
The gemological sciences have grown in scope and technology at a high rate over the last 5-10 years. The basic vital instruments for gemological purposes such as microscopes, refractive indexes, specific gravities, fluorescence and others have been used for more than half a century. But with the onset of advanced treatments in gemstones today, advanced sciences have been introduced in the field to identify these.
Now it is necessary to use highly developed instrumentation in many of the gem materials examined today. Depending on the type of treatments used, the price of the gemstone should reflect accordingly. It is now necessary to have sophisticated laboratory equipment to make a judgment on most gemstones today. These stones need to be identified accurately.
The following are the most well-equipped, trained, experienced and respected laboratories in the world. Most have gemologists on staff that have dedicated their entire careers to the study of gemstones and the many treatments that they undergo. These laboratories are used by the gemstone trade, the public, and the research community. They are dedicated to the advancement of gemstone knowledge and crystal sciences.
If you do not see a laboratory below that you were told is reputable; then we suggest you ask that laboratory some more questions about what qualifications it has. Gem laboratories are not flawless, but the below laboratories all belong to an international organization that has very strict credentials for membership. The LMHC (The Laboratory Harmonization Committee) shares research data with each member and has very high standards which need to be met in order to remain part of the organization. Uniform grading and reporting is consistent throughout this group. The reputation of one is dependant on many, so all members are very careful and concise in reporting, for this reason we strongly suggest that you only rely on a laboratory report from the following laboratories:
GIA Gem Lab (Gemological Institute of America)
This is considered the premiere diamond grading laboratory in the world. Most people that have shopped for a diamond will usually be familiar with this lab. It is the oldest and most widely used gemological laboratory in the world and most respected in diamond grading.
Click here for the text on the reverse side of the GIA Report.
AGTA-GTC (American Gem Trade Association Gemstone Testing Center)
Considered the premiere colored stone laboratory in the USA, if not the world. Obviously we choose to use this more than any other lab due to its exceptional reputation in research, technology, staff, and ethics.
UPDATE: As of July 2009, The AGTA lab was forced to close due to the severe economic recession. The American Gem Trade Association at this time has no plans to reopen the laboratory. The Natural Sapphire Company has successfully purchased all of the AGTA’s advanced gemological equipment and hired the AGTA’s laboratory technology director.
Click here for the text on the reverse side of the AGTA Sapphire Report.
Gubelin Gem Lab
If you are in Europe, the Gubelin laboratory is the equivalent to the AGTA lab. It has a long history and an excellent staff. If you don’t see many laboratory reports from this lab in the USA it is because of the large shipping costs associated with shipping high value stones overseas for reporting. Usually, European collectors are most familiar with this lab. The Gubelin lab also does diamond and pearl reporting as well. We recommend it highly.
The SSEF (Swiss Gemological Institute) is another leading laboratory in Europe. It has not been in business as long as some other European labs, but is considered to be as reputable and a reliable laboratory. Professor Dr. Hänni has pioneered some very important research and testing within the diffusion identification process in sapphires. He continues to be a leader within the trade on this important subject. We recommend the SSEF highly.
The GAAJ (Gemological Association of All Japan) is the premiere laboratory in Japan and Asia. Japan has a large market for fine gemstones, and this lab continues to lead the world in the volume of certificates issued on colored gemstones. Unfortunately it had an experience of falling victim to not catching some new treatments entering the Asian market (diffused Padparadschas), but has since upgraded its technology and reliability.
The CISGEM (Centre for Information and Services in Gemology) is a leading laboratory
in Italy. It was established in 1966 as a small laboratory by the Italian government,
but has since been privatized and is now widely used within Italy. It is part of
the LMHC, and maintains the levels of reliability in reporting on gemstones to be
a part of this exclusive group.
The GIT (Gem and Jewelry Testing Institute of Thailand) is located in Bangkok, Thailand. Thailand is known to be the main trading and processing center for the colored gemstone industry. Most treatments to gemstones happen in Bangkok and most of the laboratories in Thailand should not be considered reliable. The GIT has been the only lab that is committed to maintaining the highest ethical and quality reporting standards needed in order to be a member of the LMHC. For this reason we recommend the GIT and the acceptance of its reports.
If you are looking for information on a laboratory that is not listed here (part of the LMHC international group) then you should seek at least a second opinion on the reputation of the laboratory. The LMHC is not an "exclusive" marketing group or organization seeking to bar competitor laboratories. Rather, it is an organization that shares research and reporting information within the group so that that it may always improve and maintain quality and accuracy. A laboratory that is not a member of the LMHC is either not keeping strict standards or does not have the needed equipment to accurately report on gemstones.