What is the back history of the IGL?
We opened the office in Jan 2014, but the company actually started back in 1981 in Canada. About eight years ago it also opened in Israel as a diamond exchange, and then we opened here this year. At the beginning of the next year, we are also opening in Antwerp in Belgium.
What is the core operation of the new UK branch?
We deal mainly with the UK and European markets. We are different from the other UK assay offices because we are international – we certificate not just for the UK. With other offices, the certification is essentially only for the UK market, whereas our certificate is recognised all over the world, not just in the UK. If I go to Israel with a certificate just from one of the UK assay offices, I cannot do a match.
How do you compete against GIA, with its international reach?
They do do not have a laboratory here in the UK. Also, the turnaround time of sending a stone from the UK to GIA over in the States is about six weeks, but if you send it to me it’s about 24 hours. There is no GIA laboratory in the UK.
How fast is IGL’s UK business growing?
We’re growing pretty fast after we exhibited at the most recent International Jewellery London trade show. We now have around 500 clients in the UK – which makes us one of the biggest labs here. We are currently issuing 1,500 – 2,000 certificates per month.
What is the plan for the Antwerp branch? Will it be the same?
We will open there but it will be very limited to the Belgian market, and more for rough stones. It will also provide more of a ‘consultancy’ role there for the customers.
What are your plans for expansion?
In the last month or so we have begun certifying pearls – find out if they are cultured or if they are natural. We are going to make a lot of changes including introducing a special department for training clients about marketing, and teach them how better to sell stones and jewellery.
This article first appeared in the December 2014 issue of Jewellery Focus