Sarine To Acquire Majority Stake in GCAL

GradingJan 13, 2023

Sarine To Acquire Majority Stake in GCAL

The acquisition allows GCAL to expand overseas while giving Sarine a “recognized and respected” channel for offering eGrading in the U.S.

Sarine Technologies Ltd. has signed a memorandum of understanding to acquire a majority stake in New York-based grading lab GCAL, which will transition to using Sarine’s automated, cloud-based and artificial intelligence-driven eGrading technology.
New York—Israel-based Sarine Technologies Ltd. is set to acquire a majority stake in the Gem Certification and Assurance Lab, the laboratory Don and Pamela Palmieri opened more than 20 years ago.

Sarine announced the pending acquisition early Thursday, stating it had signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) to purchase GCAL in an all-cash deal that’s subject to customary due diligence.

The financial terms of the deal are not being disclosed. A closing date and the name for the combined entity will be announced once due diligence is completed, Sarine said.

The acquisition will give New York-based GCAL, a single-lab operation, opportunity to expand overseas by using Sarine’s automated, artificial intelligence-driven eGrading while giving Sarine ownership over a grading laboratory with a known and respected name.

“We are thrilled by this opportunity to join forces with and acquire a major position in GCAL,” Sarine CEO David Block, who was traveling Thursday and unavailable for an interview, said in a press release.

“I am confident that GCAL, leveraging Sarine’s technologies, will now be able to increase its market presence, to the benefit of the industry in general and to U.S. consumers in particular, without degrading from their industry-unique principles of guaranteed quality and consistency. No less importantly, Sarine will gain access to the Palmieris’ decades-long experience in managing a gem lab with the highest standards possible and will gain a recognized and respected channel through which to offer the expansive key U.S. retail industry its grading technologies, to the benefit of retailers and consumers alike.”

Angelo Palmieri, GCAL’s chief operations officer, said in an interview Thursday that in the last decade or so, the industry has seen major labs rapidly open multiple locations overseas, only to have the quality and consistency of their grading deteriorate.   

GCAL views using Sarine eGrading as the way to expand overseas without sacrificing quality or its Zero Tolerance 4Cs Consumer Guarantee, the lab’s cash-back policy for consumers that guarantees the accuracy of the cut, color, clarity and carat weight on GCAL certificates. 

“We would have not sold the company if we had to abandon the guarantee,” GCAL President Don Palmieri said.  

Angelo said Sarine’s AI machine grading offers consistent and accurate grading if the machines are programmed correctly, and GCAL is “highly confident” they are. 

Don added, “There’s no question that when it comes to diamond technology, [Sarine] is the leader in the world. We like to believe we [at GCAL] are the most accurate and consistent, though probably the smallest, of the internationally recognized labs. 

“By taking our integrity and the quality of the work we do and connecting it with AI, it’s a grand-slam homerun.” 

 Related stories will be right here … 

GCAL leadership will remain in place following the proposed acquisition, and Don and Angelo said GCAL will be retaining all of its staff and likely adding more. 

It will also stay in its current location, on the 27th floor at 580 Fifth Ave.

Both Don and Angelo said it is too early to say where and when GCAL might be opening labs overseas. 

While GCAL will be transitioning to AI-based grading, Don said gemologists are still going to be examining the diamonds submitted to the lab for grading.

He also said GCAL will not stop offering any of its services—like its new cut grade standard 8X—because of the acquisition but, instead, will be adding more, such as Sarine’s Journey reports, which trace diamonds from mine to market. 

Don and Pamela Palmieri opened GCAL in 2001. 

They sold the lab to Collectors Universe (which also owned American Gemological Laboratories, or AGL, at one point) in 2006 but bought it back in 2009. 

Angelo joined GCAL in 2005. He became an equal partner in the business after they repurchased the lab from Collectors Universe. 

Sarine is based in Hod HaSharon, Israel, and is publicly traded on the Singapore Exchange Mainboard. 

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