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How technology plays an important role in improving the grading process
David Block, CEO, Sarine Technologies in an exclusive interview with Diamond World, talks about why technology and data are even more important than before and will play an even larger role than in the past in the diamond pipeline
By: Diamond World News Service
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Nov 6 2021 11:19AM
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Reference: 25971  

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I believe that technology-basedgrading will increase consumer trust going forward. Let’s take an example of carat weight and cut which are both performed on technology. Today everyone trusts blindly these two parameters which are measured and graded using technology. Now with AI grading, colour and clarity can also be graded using technology which will only increase the consistency and accuracy of such grading thereby increasing consumer confidence. I would even dare to say that today’s young consumer trusts technology even more than any manual process.

 

 

The very foundation of Sarine is built on technology – since the inception of your company, how have you technologically scaled over the years?

As a technology company, Sarine is always in the process of researching and developing innovative new ideas that can add value to the different segments of the diamond pipeline. Over the past 30 years, we had focused on developing technology that adds value mainly to the manufacturing segment. I believe we can proudly say that our technology has played a crucial role in transforming diamond manufacturing into what it is today. Therefore, it was only natural that we also looked how we can add value to other parts of the pipeline, and today I can say that we are involved in different technology based projects both for the producers (miners) as well as the retailers thereby covering the entire pipeline from the mine to the consumer. Even though technology has transformed the manufacturing segment over the past 30 years, today’s world is highly dependent on technology and data so we believe that technology is even more important than before and will play an even larger role than in the past.

 

What are some of your most sought after/popular products that have revolutionized grading within the industry pipeline?

Sarine introduced the world’s first technology for cut grading (DiaMensionTM) in 1992. This technology which is now in its 6th generation has become theglobal standard for grading cut used by manufacturers, retailers and grading labs. In 2016 we then became the first company to introduce AI -based grading technologies for both color and clarity.

 

Grading labs have been incorporating AI and ML in their quest for consumer trust. How far can this technology go in ensuring transparency of the grading process?

I believe that technology-basedgrading will increase consumer trust going forward. Let’s take an example of carat weight and cut which are both performed on technology. Today everyone trusts blindly these two parameters which are measured and graded using technology. Now with AI grading, colour and clarity can also be graded using technology which will only increase the consistency and accuracy of such grading thereby increasing consumer confidence. I would even dare to say that today’s young consumer trusts technology even more than any manual process.

 

How will the automation of grading processes impact the trade? Will human involvement become redundant? Will it replace a human grader?

The impact of automated AI- based grading will be dramatic… but in a positive manner. It will shorten the grading cycle time from a number of weeks (sometimes even longer) to days, enabling the customer to shorten his overall manufacturing and sales cycle thereby being able to offer his polish goods to the market much faster. Having grading capabilities onsite at the customer will also save costs of shipping, insurance as well as cost of money (during the time the goods are at the lab). Enabling the customer the flexibility of setting his own priorities rather than being dependent on the quantities of goods at the lab is another advantage that also cannot be underestimated (generally everyone wants the goods graded at the same time which creates long backlogs due to the inability of the labs to scale up/down quickly). Naturally human involvement will not become redundant but the type of skill sets will change, transitioning the workforce from using a loupe to working on advanced AI technologies.

 

What percentage of diamonds is being graded by this technology presently?

Technology based grading is still a small percentage of the total diamonds graded as such technology is still new. We are starting to see a wider acceptance of grading based on AI. As the technology is starting to mature and has only been available commercially for a few years at our grading labs. In the near future, Sarine will be introducing our eGrading™ technology which will enable the grading process to be done at source (rather than in a Lab) thereby saving significant time and cost as the diamonds will be able to be graded on-site without having to send them to a lab.  As the advantages of such technology are so significant we expect that within a number of years most diamonds graded will be done using AI- based technology.

 

How big a role can AI play in resolving disputes about grading inconsistencies?

One of the major advantages of automated AI - based grading is that the level of consistency is significantly better than manual grading. Unlike graders, technology is ‘immune’ to the many factors that create most of the grading inconsistencies.  Human graders are impacted by many external factors including fatigue, environmental conditions, mental conditions (mood), lighting conditions etc… Therefore, as AI - based grading consistency is much higher than manual grading there are expected to be very few disputes on grading.

 

Who gets to monitor the algorithms? Who will decide what data will be fed into the AI/ML software? Is it possible that wrong or even mischievous inputting will defeat the very purpose of adopting it in the first place? How can the industry guard itself against that possibility?

That is actually a very important question as the quality and validity of the data that is used in the learning algorithms is critical to the ability to grade correctly. The learning data is collected from a very wide range of sources and is verified prior to using it so the chances of such mistakes or manipulations are very low. Sarine as a public company also implements best practices in terms of data security, monitoring and data access in order to ensure the grading algorithms and data are independent and not influenced by any external source. Lastly, unlike manual grading where there is no audit trail to the grading process, technology has a complete audit trail enabling us to track the grading process of each and every diamond that is graded.

 

How big a role can blockchain technology and cryptography play in determining the provenance of a diamond and certifying it?

I think the purpose of blockchain and cryptography is mostly misunderstood when it comes to traceability. Blockchains main purpose is to store data rather than ensure its accuracy or verify its validity. Therefore, I believe that Block chain platforms have a role to play in storing information but are in no way any assurance of the provenance of the diamond.Sarine Diamond Journey traceability™ solution has an API that can integrate into our customers or other 3rd party blockchain platforms if needed. I actually wrote a blog a while back specifically on this subject - https://blog.sarine.com/blockchain-equals-traceability-or-not

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