By GEOFFREY BEW
Published: 1st JULY 2008
MANAMA: A state-of-the-art pearl and gem testing and grading laboratory was opened yesterday.
The new specialised centre is ranked among the best of its kind, Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Hassan Fakhro said.
He was speaking as he opened the laboratory, which is located at the ministry-owned Khairiya Building in the Diplomatic Area.
He also hailed the new facility as reflecting the government's keenness to promote the sector of natural pearls in the kingdom.
Bahrain's efforts to further bolster control systems and acquisition of hi-tech equipment were also highlighted.
Businessmen and pearl and gem specialists also attended the ceremony.
The new laboratory is more spacious and boasts world-class technical and security equipment. It is specialised in testing and grading natural pearls to ensure they are distinct from cultured ones.
Bahrain is the only country in the world, which bans importing or trading in cultured pearls. Prohibitive laws were passed follwing directives from the kingdom's leadership.
The first such law dates back to 1928, in the era of the late Bahrain ruler Shaikh Hamad bin Isa bin Ali Al Khalifa, who took over from his father the late Shaikh Isa bin Ali Al Khalifa in 1923.
The new lab is also specialised in testing and grading gems, issuing world-standard certificates that are accredited regionally and internationally.
Large quantities of retail pearls, pearl necklaces, and gems are tested and graded monthly.
The lab is staffed with skilled Bahrainis, who were graduated and trained at leading international institutes. A highly-equipped diamond testing and grading unit was also inaugurated yesterday.