The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) will scale back its Antwerp operations from January, but has decided not to shut the laboratory entirely.
“Today, we notified clients of the GIA laboratory in Antwerp that, as of January, the laboratory will offer consolidated services with reduced staff,” a spokesperson told Rapaport News Monday. It will continue to provide client consultations, rough-diamond analysis for the GIA Diamond Origin Report, and some follow-up services and inscriptions for D-to-Z diamonds up to 3.99 carats, he added.
In August, the GIA revealed preliminary plans to close or significantly trim its laboratory and offices in the Belgian city, citing market conditions and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sarine Technologies has entered the running to acquire HRD Antwerp, according to two sources close to the sale process.
The Israel-based diamond-technology company has registered its interest in buying the Belgian laboratory, as have two previous heads of HRD, the two anonymous sources told Rapaport News.
Peter Meeus, who ran the organization between 1999 and 2005, was one of the first candidates be linked to a potential bid around a month ago. He is now joined by Serge Couvreur, who served as HRD’s general manager from 2013 to 2014, as well as by Sarine. The International Gemological Institute (IGI) also entered a bid earlier this year, as reported by Rapaport News in early November, but has since pulled out, the sources confirmed. The situation is changing constantly, another source pointed out.
Sarine’s move could be seen as part of its increased focus on grading and other downstream activities. While its main business is providing diamond-mapping equipment to manufacturers, the polished-grading sector offers considerable revenue opportunities and margins, Sarine noted last month.
Potential buyers of HRD have until next Tuesday to submit a final bid with a proposed price, one of the sources added.
HRD and the Antwerp World Diamond Centre, which owns the lab, declined to comment, as did the three bidders and IGI.