There is growing demand for traceability and transparency—including tracking (from mine to market) and tracing (from market to mine)—of gemstones in the jewellery industry. The Swiss Gemmological Institute SSEF has decades of experience in providing scientific opinions regarding claims of origin (geographical and whether a gem is natural or synthetic) and whether or not a gem has been treated.
Gemmological approaches will continue to be important in supporting supply chain integrity and maintain consumer confidence in rare natural gemstones. In addition to existing services, new and combined gemmological techniques (based on unique features within a stone) are being developed to enhance documentation of stones as they journey from mine to market. As such, the Swiss Gemmological Institute has decided to launch GemTrack™ in January 2019 as a new service to the trade.
A GemTrack™ document links a cut stone to a specific rough stone using gemmological techniques.
GemTrack™ is based on a combination of crystallographic, structural, chemical and microscopic analyses that allow for detailed and potentially unique characterisation and fingerprinting of a rough stone. These same features are later investigated in the cut stone, following the cutting and polishing process. Currently, SSEF offers GemTrack™ services only if a specific rough stone is made into one cut stone. A GemTrack™ document can only be issued if sufficient crystallographic and microscopic characteristics are present in a stone. SSEF reserves the right not to issue a GemTrack™ document if characterising evidence is insufficient.
What claims does a GemTrack™ document make?
GemTrack™ provides expert scientific opinion linking a rough stone to a cut stone, thereby gemmologically documenting part of a stone’s journey from mine to market. It does not make any specific claims of mine of origin. When credible documentation is provided (e.g. transparent sales receipts from a rough auction), a GemTrack™ document may state that based on provided documentation a gemstone was sourced from a specific company or auction. GemTrack™ does not make any claims about how and when a gemstone was mined, as this cannot be ascertained using gemmological methods. GemTrack™ is a SSEF document, which presents data of a specific stone in its rough and cut state, and is only issued in addition to a SSEF Report for the cut stone. A GemTrack™ document may also be issued if a gem is later mounted in jewellery, in order to document the stone from rough to jewellery.
What are the requirements to issue a GemTrack™ document?
To be able to offer the GemTrack™ service for a specific gemstone, SSEF has to analyse a stone twice. First, the gem is submitted to the Swiss Gemmological Institute as a rough stone for detailed analysis along with available documentation. Important: The rough gem needs to have a polished window on one side. The rough stone is characterised in detail by SSEF, given a unique identifying number, and sent back to the client for cutting and polishing. No document is issued at this time by SSEF. Subsequently, the client resubmits the cut stone with the unique identifying number. The cut stone is then meticulously analysed by SSEF a second time in order to confirm that it was cut from the rough stone that was previously submitted to SSEF. In the case where this data comparison is positive, SSEF will issue a GemTrack™ document in addition to the SSEF Report for the same cut gemstone. A GemTrack™ document may be updated at a later point in time, for example if the gem is recut again or even after having been mounted in jewellery, thus representing a unique and independent tracking record documenting the journey of a gemstone from rough to jewellery.
What is the price of GemTrack™ services?
- Cost of testing and full characterisation of the rough stone is 500 CHF.
- Cost of testing the cut gemstone is 500 CHF, in addition to the charge for the regular SSEF report. In this case a regular report and a GemTrack™ document will be issued for that stone.
- If the gemstone is later set in jewellery and thus submitted a third time, the update of the SSEF report and GemTrack™ document will cost 200 CHF + recheck fee.