September 25, 2002
AGTA Lab to Open in Sri Lanka
An AGTA-approved gemological laboratory will be opened next year in Colombo, Sri Lanka, announced American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) president Richard Greenwood. A letter of intent setting the project in motion was signed last week in New York City. Greenwood added the laboratory idea had been vigorously negotiated over a period of three years with the Sri Lankan government.
The announcement was confirmed by Sri Lanka's Ranjit Fernando, secretary of the Ministry of Enterprise Development, Industrial Policy, Investment, Promotion and Constitutional Affairs. He described it as a "win-win" situation. Sri Lanka's government made a commitment to finance the project through a tax which is to be levied through the gem community. Sophisticated gemological equipment, similar to that used at the Gem Testing Center in New York City, will be operational in Sri Lanka. A lab director was not announced at the meeting.
"For the buyer who goes to Sri Lanka there will be laboratory-certified goods. It will help one of the largest gem-producing countries sell gems more efficiently because buyers will soon be able to puchase gems with total confidence," explains AGTA board member Jeffrey Bilgore of Oscar Heyman & Brothers, Inc. Bilgore has decades of gem buying experience in Sri Lanka and other Asian nations. He noted that the advantage of AGTA-certified goods at the source would make Sri Lanka a much more attractive destination for serious, qualified gem buyers.
Greenwood noted that the laboratory would be comparably equipped and managed as AGTA's New York-based Gem Testing Center. "It is a fundamental leap for our member traders to perform their buying functions, and it will help AGTA's bottom line," Greenwood added.
A first step in making the laboratory a reality will be a rigorous training period for Sri Lankan gemologists, to take place in the New York lab. In turn, the Gem Testing Center plans to rotate their gemologists on assignments in Sri Lanka, to ensure synchronicity between the labs.