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Sarine Technologies and its ‘time machines’

21 december 2015

uzi_levami_xx.jpgUzi Levami is one of the original founders of Sarine and has a long history of founding high-tech companies. A former major in the Israel Defense Forces, Uzi was personally awarded the prestigious Israel Defense Award in 1992 by then President Chaim Herzog for his endeavors on a development project for the IDF.

Armed with a Master's degree in Computer Sciences from the Weizmann Institute of Science; and a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering (Cum Laude) from the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Uzi has been the CEO of the Sarine Group since February 2009 and an Executive Director since December 2008.

In an interview with Rough&Polished, Uzi talks about Sarine’s growth over the years; its products-- existing and new launches; and the company’s endeavor to continue technological upgrading as an ongoing process.

Some excerpts…

Sarine Technologies is synonymous with highly sophisticated products, especially in the diamond industry. Can you take us down the history of the company, touching upon some of the products as well?

Sarine Technologies was established in 1988, by a group of diamantaires and engineers. From the very beginning, Sarine was based on a unique mix of perspectives and passion – both for diamonds and for technology. Our very first product was the Robogem, which, interestingly, was a gemstone planning product. After the Robogem, we moved into diamond technologies, and here we made our mark and are continuing to do so. Many of our products have been instrumental in transforming the industry processes of diamond planning and manufacturing, on a global scale; for example, our DiaMension™ cut grading software, which was released in 1992, and the DiaExpert™/Advisor™ automated rough planning system in 1995, the Galaxy™ inclusion mapping system in 2009, and more recently the Sarine Profile™ online sales tool, which we launched this year.

Of all the Sarine products that have come into the market till today, which one/s, according to you, are the game changer/s and why?

Since its initial release in 2009, our Galaxy™ inclusion mapping system, together with the Advisor™ software, took the industry to new frontiers in terms of maximizing the potential of rough diamonds. The beauty of the Galaxy™ system is that it operates as a sort of 'time machine' for diamonds. The system takes a rough stone, and reveals to the manufacturer a perfectly accurate picture of all its possible futures as a polished diamond. The idea that now we could predict and design the optimal cutting plan, with complete precision, was a major breakthrough that influences the entire production pipeline. I believe that the Galaxy™ not only changed the way that diamonds are mapped, but also changed the way the industry relates to the concept of rough planning.

Which cutting center has Sarine established itself with maximum clients in the diamond industry? Reason?

That would have to be Surat, not only due to the number of manufacturers and the sheer volume of diamonds produced there, yet also due to the incredible openness of the Surat diamond community to new technological concepts. Our clientele in India has shown strong capabilities and success in the assimilation of advanced technologies in their production processes.

Has Sarine supplied customized products for a particular client/or industry according to their needs? Who, where and why?

I have to say that I am proud of Sarine's flexibility in developing and customizing solutions that meet the needs of virtually all segments of the diamond industry. Take the recent launch of our Galaxy Meteor™ product. Based on our Galaxy™ system, the Meteor™ is an inclusion mapping system specially designed for the smaller stone segment of diamonds sized 0.25 to 0.89ct. We've adapted the technology behind the Galaxy™ into a device that provides a cost effective mapping inclusion solution for manufacturers of smaller stones, offering the same added value of the Galaxy™ yet for a different market segment. Sarine's approach to technology spans the entire pipeline, and cuts across the entire industry.

What are your views on the need for technology to keep on par with the changing consumer trends? How has Sarine coped with such situations and what are the recently introduced products by the company?

Consumerism is undergoing profound change as the tech-savvy, hyper-connected millennial generation comes of age. Technology plays an ever more important role in the interface between the consumer and the diamond product. The most significant change in the production and trade of diamonds, in my view, is the emergence of what you might call the 'reverse pipeline'. Today, with the instantaneous online communication of data, and the pro-active, connected nature of the modern customer, the end consumer is actually steering the industry trends, and driving the manufacturer's activities – not the other way round. The use of technology is the only way to ensure that diamond manufacturers, traders and retailers have the information and flexibility at their fingertips to meet the needs of consumers right now. Our cloud-based trade and retail solutions are part of this transformation to a consumer-driven pipeline. Our Sarine Loupe™ imaging device, Sarine Light™ light performance grading system, and Sarine Profile™ digital diamond sales platform act as the purveyor of powerful diamond data that can be harnessed in real time to drive trends and sales.

Sarine’s latest ‘Meteor system’ for inclusion mapping of smaller stones could be a boon to the Indian diamond industry in particular. Your comments.

As mentioned earlier, the Meteor™ is the best of the Galaxy™ technology, modified for a new market segment. Meteor™ is about reducing the cost of ownership of the Galaxy™ technology, doing for the smaller stone segment what Galaxy™ achieved for manufacturers of larger stones. Viewed from this perspective, it is our hope that the Meteor™ will enhance the production process of smaller stones, with wider effects on the industry, in India and beyond.

What are the main reasons for Sarine registering loss in the 3rd quarter this fiscal? Do you see a turnaround in the near future?

It's no secret that business conditions remain challenging for the entire industry. This is a result of a number of key issues, such as the disproportionate rough to polished diamond prices, high polished inventories resulting in significantly reduced quantities of new rough diamonds entering the midstream, and lesser availability of credit to some diamond manufacturers. Like all other parties in our industry, Sarine has felt the effects. In spite of the current situation, we remain positive and optimistic.

Any plans to introduce more new products/services in the coming months? Can you give a preview of the products, if any?

In an interesting development that takes us back to our roots, we're just now in the opening phase of the service center for our new product, the Allegro™, which is an automated planning and grinding device for non-diamond gemstones. After decades with a singular focus on diamond technologies, we are now launching a device designed to provide best-value planning for gemstone manufacturers, using advanced 3D laser mapping technology. Our service center has recently opened in Jaipur, with plans to expand in Asia and South America.

In addition, we are constantly adding new features to the Sarine Profile™ online diamond sales platform. As this unique product continues to penetrate the retail market in the US and elsewhere, we are continually working on updating the system and enhancing its functionality.

Are you looking at the countries that are growing their new diamond industry as potential market for Sarine. Any plans on the anvil?

At Sarine, we like the expression: "Never say never". We don't rule out any possibility and we're always on the lookout for new opportunities.

What’s your opinion on the current global diamond industry’s slowdown? And how has it affected Sarine’s financial working results on the whole?

Notwithstanding the short-term market challenges, we remain committed to the development of our polished diamond trade products, enhanced rough diamond inclusion scanning and planning systems, and our new Allegro™ non-diamond gemstone manufacturing system. We continue to evolve, both our products and our company ethos. We look forward to a return of the dynamism and vibrancy of the diamond industry, and we remain as proud as ever to be a part of the global diamond family.

Aruna Gaitonde, Editor-in-Chief of Asian Bureau, Rough & Polished