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CIBJO Releases 7th Gemological Special Report

It’s considering process of separating measurable facts from opinion.

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(PRESS RELEASE) MILAN, ITALY — With fewer than four weeks to go to the opening of the 2019 CIBJO Congress in Manama, Bahrain, on November 18, 2019, the seventh of the CIBJO commissions’ Special Reports has been released. Prepared by the CIBJO Gemological Commission, headed by Hanco Zwaan, it considers measures that should be taken to ensure that a person reading a laboratory report understands what information is measurable fact and what information represents the opinion of the gemologist.

“Dividing the report so that there is a section with test results and a section with interpretations or opinions may cause even more confusion. The more prudent policy could well be what some laboratories already do, and that is clearly stating on their report that specific results – such as those dealing with origin—are in fact opinions,” Mr. Zwaan writes.

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The readiness of many gem labs to assign variety names to gemstones, despite there currently not being universally accepted gemological standards for those names, is particularly controversial, and has been driven more by commercial interests rather than science. “The general attitude has been that, as long as new variety names were not in conflict with science, logic, or other, already given names, they could be accepted,” he notes.

“Conflict with commercial interests are fraught with problems,” Mr. Zwaan continues, citing the case of Paraiba tourmaline, which most commonly is recognized by its distinctive color, but some insist also needs to have been sourced in the Brazilian state of Paraiba. This means that similarly colored tourmaline from Mozambique and Nigeria should not share the same variety name.

“Does that make Paraiba tourmaline a variety or brand?” he asks.

“What we do know is that, historically, once a brand or trading name becomes widely accepted in the public sphere, it is more likely to be used as a variety name. This in itself is a compelling enough reason to define variety names precisely,” the president of Gemological Commission states in the special report.

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To download a full copy of the CIBJO Gemological Commission’s special report, click here.

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