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Since the advent of modern diamond grading about 80 years ago, gemological laboratories have graded diamonds for carat weight, cut, color and clarity using some tools but applying human judgments. Scales, of course, were used to determine carat weight. But loupes, microscopes, millimeter gauges and master color grading diamonds were the tools used to apply standards to the diamond under observation so that a human could make judgments as to the color, clarity and cut grade to give the stone.

And that has led to controversy at times. Everyone in the trade has heard stories of the same diamond being sent to the same lab twice and getting a different grade the second time. And some labs have reputations for grading standards that are more lenient than others. Retailers know which lab to send a diamond to if they need a certain grade to justify their investment in the stone.

Now comes Sarin Technologies to change all that. Sarin is an Israeli company that makes MRI like machines for the mapping of inclusions in rough diamonds and for planning the cutting of rough into finished stones. Now they have produced machines to automate the grading of diamonds. Sarin’s CEO, David Block, says they have tested their clarity grading machine on approximately 20,000 diamonds and their color grading machine on about 10,000. He tells Rapaport magazine that they have shown “greater accuracy and consistency than manual grading by gemologists.”

Sarin has partnered with certain retailers to use their machine graded diamonds as part of the retailer’s “branding” efforts. The Sarin lab reports will also include data on the diamonds’ light performance, a feature that originated with the Gemex reports but has not been embraced as much as I expected it to be.

The big question is whether this will be a competitive option to lab reports from the big gemological labs or will Sarin eventually sell the machines to the labs? Will the big gemological labs embrace them or find fault with them? As the creator of the diamond grading system, the response of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), in particular, will be especially interesting to watch. Stay tuned