Gems lab angles for global recognition

A privately owned gems laboratory equipped with the latest technology opened its doors yesterday, but it will take time for the industry to receive international recognition, insiders say.

Myanmar Gemological Laboratory will be able to provide a range of reports at a cost of K15,000 to K150,000 to identify natural or synthetic stones, including treatment and geographic origin, according to its founder U Wai La Win.

“If we can make hundreds or thousands of reports matching [the quality of reports by] internationally recognised labs, with local coordination, it will be quicker to get the reputation of local labs recognised in foreign countries,” he said.

U Wai La Win added there are about 10 such labs in the country, but most use somewhat outdated technology compared to his lab.

Leading Myanmar geologist Daw Yin Yin New said she supports the private sector as the government itself is decentralising.

“By competing with the private sector, processes on the government side become more competitive and qualified. There should be no more monopolising by the government, I think,” she said.

Government gems experts should also work closely with their private sector counterparts in efforts to receive international recognition. Currently, local stones often must be certified in foreign countries, but this business could be completed locally, she said.

“The government needs to liberalise and decentralise the sector by handing over mining processes to the private sector and simply collecting tax from them, like Indonesia. This avoids conflict of interest, though does not fully control all the country’s resources from leaving,” she said.

Gems dealers say they welcome efforts to bring international-quality gems appraisal to Yangon.

U Thaung Tun, owner of Yadana Theingi Gems and Jewellery, said when local gems are resold at international exhibitions, they must often be re-appraised to meet their standards.

Gary Nelson, a gems businessperson, said that while some of the laboratories here may not be globally recognised, they have a lot of experience and understand Myanmar gemstones.

However, laboratories bring a level of objectivity to gem appraisals. They have necessary equipment and can tell the characteristics of stones and how they stack up against international gems.
“They can identify stones very easily and very correctly,” he said.

Part of the problem for local gems laboratories is the world was in the dark for so long about the industry in Myanmar, and it was also difficult for Myanmar people to take in international best practices.

Mr Nelson said the situation was different for U Wai La Win, as he studied and worked overseas for the Gemological Institute of America, and is bringing that experience back to Myanmar. In the past, most Myanmar labs catered to the local community.

Ideally, locally valued gems with a proper certificate should be accepted internationally, which will help local traders have the confidence to go to places like New York or London and present the stone, he said.

Source: Myanmar Times

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