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Bahrain Institute for Pearls & Gemstones

An authority of pearl & gemstone authentication,
gemmological research & education, DANAT plays a vital
role in the regional & international jewellery community.

DANAT boasts truly world-class testing facilities and expertise in both pearl and gemstone analysis. In addition, research is a vital part of DANAT.

In this exclusive with Mr Kenneth Scarratt, CEO - Bahrain Institute for Pearls & Gemstones (DANAT), The New Jeweller bureau gets an insight on the development of DANAT, within the Kingdom of Bahrain and other markets. Mr. Scarratt explains the importance of education and research and discusses the various factors driving DANAT's progression to become the world's preferred Institute for third party verification services for pearls, gemstones and jewellery.'

DANAT is one of the latest laboratories established in the Kingdom of Bahrain to support the natural pearl trade and jewellery industry in Bahrain through pearl and gemstone authentication and verification services. How has the journey been for DANAT in terms of establishing itself as a leading gemmological laboratory in the GCC region?

Founded in 2017, the Bahrain Institute for Pearls and Gemstones (DANAT) was established under the aegis of HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain to enhance and build upon the excellent work of The Pearl & Gemstone Testing Laboratory of Bahrain; the first laboratory of its kind set up in the Middle East. DANAT is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company (Mumtalakat), the sovereign wealth fund of the Kingdom.

DANAT set itself the objective of being the world's preferred institute for third party verification services for gemstones and jewellery, with a particular specialism in natural pearls. It undertakes cutting edge gemmological research and has developed comprehensive educational programmes in pearl and gemstone studies. These courses are unique to the market in their offering of extensive hands on experience with laboratory instrumentation in DANAT's dedicated Educational Facility and world class laboratory. DANAT offers a comprehensive range of reports designed to meet market demands from simple summary reports, the size of a credit card, to tailor made boxed report creations for items that are unique and of significant historical value. Earlier this year, DANAT launched its latest report, the 'Supreme Report' at the Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair in June 2018. Clients are at the heart of everything DANAT undertakes, and listening to their feedback is a critical part of this approach. The Supreme Report was specifically developed based upon the feedback from clients and the wider market. DANAT's focus on client needs has also led to continuous development of the technology used in the laboratory to enable faster turnaround times and peace of mind regarding the accuracy of DANAT's reports. A key stage in DANAT's journey has been the establishment of its private bonded warehouse (Customs facility) on the DANAT premises, licenced by the Bahrain Ministry of Interior (MOI) CustomsAffairs, the first of its kind in Bahrain. DANAT's bonded warehouse was a particularly important development for the servicing of international clients enabling items submitted for testing to come directly to DANAT's premises for Customs processing thus enhancing the security and time efficiency of clearance. All submissions via DANAT's bonded warehouse are duty free so the facility is both convenient and cost effective.

Bahrain is internationally recognised for its natural pearl trade. What has been the reason behind selling only natural pearls in the Kingdom and how has it been helpful in positioning Bahrain as the epitome of quality and reliability?

Laws and Regulations prohibiting cultured pearls from entering and being traded in Bahrain have been in place for a long time. Such measures stem from the development of cultured pearls in the 1920s, which became an internationalphenomenon. As a result, demand for natural pearls fell and this had a detrimental impact on the pearling communities in Bahrain but also within the wider Gulf region. The purpose of such laws and regulations is to protect Bahrain's natural pearling and jewellery industry as well as promote consumer confidence when purchasing pearls and pearl jewellery items by minimising the penetration of cultured pearls in the domestic market. Bahrain is the only country in the world which bans the trade of cultured pearls by law.

DANAT is now been not only positioned as a leading gemmological laboratory within the gulf region but also beyond, such as the Far East. Will you be setting up Laboratories / offices or Mobile labs outside Bahrain in the near future? If Yes, please elaborate.

DANAT's laboratory in Bahrain is equipped and staffed to meet the demands of international clients. In addition, DANAT's private bonded warehouse (Customs facility) allows timely, duty free and convenient submission of items for testing with Customs processing complete on DANAT's premises. These provisions mean that DANAT is confident in its ability to service current and future clients based anywhere in the world from its existing laboratory. However, as part of DANAT's participation in international industry shows such as the Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair and Jewellery Arabia, DANATwill be offering on-site pearl and gemstone testing. DANAT will be the first and only exhibitor to offer on-site pearl testing at the Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair (14th -18th September 2018).

What are your plans in these markets to expand education, grading and other services?

As an international laboratory, DANAT plans further global expansion, with a particular focus on the Asian market initially. DANAT will be launching and expanding a wide range gemmological courses as well as building upon the existing verification and authentication report range available to ensure it remains relevant to market demands and adds value to consumers. DANAT will be investing in global industry fairs and shows where its products and services can be better communicated and demonstrated to consumers and professionals of the gemmology and jewellery community. In addition, DANAT will be participating in the prestigious JNA Awards 2018 as a Headline Partner, which is a privilege and an exciting opportunity to promote DANAT on an international scale.

Tell us something about DANAT's educational programs. Please emphasise on courses that are being offered in the Gulf region and outside?

DANAT's gemmological courses, specialising in natural pearl and gemstone studies, have been developed by DANAT's expert team of gemmologists. The courses are tailored to a wide variety of students including gemmology enthusiasts (without gemmological knowledge), jewellery trade professionals and gemmological academics and are delivered in DANAT's fully equipped Educational Facility. Some courses also included hands on experience in DANAT's world class laboratory using different instrumentation for pearl and gemstone analysis. In parallel, DANAT hosts gemmological classes from world recognised authorities to offer a broader range of courses including diamond grading and jewellery design. DANAT launched two internally developed courses this year, namely the 'Natural, Cultured & Imitation Pearls Introduction Course' and 'Gemstone Introduction: Faceting' Course. The launch of the pearl course was particularly significant as it is the only course of its kind in the world allowing those who complete it to gain technical knowledge as well as the practical skills to test and accurately identify natural pearls, cultured pearls and the treatments applied. The faceting course, the first of its type in the region enables attendees to learn about faceting (gemstone cutting) and gain practical experience by faceting gemstones provided by DANAT. These courses are just two examples from DANAT's comprehensive educational offering developed by DANAT's team of expert gemmologists with many more courses scheduled for 2019. Future plans regarding DANAT's education offering include developing online educational capabilities to facilitate a much larger global community of students to enrol on DANAT's pearl and gemstone courses.

Lastly, tell us something about those important factors including education, technology, online services etc that has taken DANAT to a leadership status in the global gemmology sector?

The Kingdom of Bahrain's rich pearling heritage provides DANAT with a foundation of an unparalleled knowledge, understanding and respect for the pearl industry on a local, regional and International level. DANAT's team have some of the best pearl and gemstone experts in the world allowing the laboratory to offer truly exceptional pearl and gemstone authentication and verification services as well as contribute meaningful research in the study of pearl and gemstone origin.

DANAT boasts truly world-class testing facilities and expertise in both pearl and gemstone analysis. In addition, research is a vital part of DANAT. The Field Gemmology team, led by worldrenowned Field Gemmologist Vincent Pardieu, travels around the world collecting gemstone samples directly from mining sites so the origin of the samples is certain. These samples are sent back to DANAT's laboratory and added to its reference library to be used for research as well as test crosschecking purposes. DANAT is one of the only laboratories internationally with such a reference library being established. The launch of the online report verification search feature, available on DANAT's website, enables holders of DANAT's most popular report 'Standard Identification Report' to access its content electronically as a PDF copy by using the report's unique identification code. This online feature allows confirmation that the report has been generated by DANAT's laboratory team and provides peace of mind when buying or selling the tested item. Only a few gemmology laboratories globally offer an online report verification search feature similar to DANAT.