DANAT: Introducing the leading Institute for the study and certification of pearls

Bahrain translates from Arabic as “two seas”; the first of which is surrounding the Kingdom, and the second is large reserves of fresh underground water. Here, the extraction of natural pearls has been going on for many years, a practice that ancient scholars, merchants and travellers have written about and something which Bahrain is famous for to this day. It is so close to the Gulf that you can find everything you need for a detailed study of this mineral – and therefore the opening of a specialised Institute in Manama was just a matter of time. So, in 2017, DANAT, an institute of pearls and gemstones, was established to conduct studies and provide certificates for precious minerals.I first visited the laboratory in March 2019 when I came to explore the natural pearl jewellery exhibition organised in collaboration between DANAT and Christie’s Auction house. At that time, I mistakenly believed that the Institute operated behind the closed doors and its core speciality is mineral identification and issuing of certificates for tested gems and pearls. However, it actually turned out that, in addition to these two workstreams, DANAT also regularly conducts training courses that are open to anyone.

“DANAT does a lot of field research for natural pearls and corals in addition to rubies, emeralds and many other gemstones that are mined. We strive to research and collect as much useful data as possible in order to offer high quality third-party verification services,” Noora Jamsheer, CEO of DANAT tells me.

Sure enough, the Institute has its own vast collection of rough gemstones mined from deposits around the world. It helps to study the characteristics of various precious minerals and get acquainted with the features of a stone found in different locations. In general, gemmology allows you to delve inside minerals using various tools, and to learn about them from existing inclusions, or the absence of them, as well as the results of various tests on a spectrometer, refractometer, diamond detector, and many others. Seeing approximately 20 machines of varying complexity in DANAT (most of which we were not even taught about in gemmology class,) there was no room for any doubt: here, they take a truly thorough approach to stone testing.

Appearances can be deceiving – not every colourless stone is a diamond, not everything that is green is an emerald. Similarly, cultured pearls might look similar to the natural saltwater ones and cannot be distinguished from each other by the naked eye. To correctly determine if the pearl is cultivated or not, DANAT uses special equipment with different testing methods. As a rule, the first stage in the process is to run X-ray scans.

DANAT is the number one laboratory in the world for pearl testing achieved through our research work, database and latest technology,” Noora Jamsheer assures me. This is not just hot air but a statement of fact.

In the lab, pearls and precious stones are tested even if they are part of a jewellery piece and the metal frame complicates the work. Unlike other labs, DANAT offers jewellery companies and individuals four different types of documents to choose from: a printout with the stone’s basic data (a Quick Assesment Report), a wallet-sized card with test results (a Micro Card Report), a folder with a detailed report including a microcard (an Identification Report ) or a beautifully bound high quality pamphlet which includes the stone’s or piece’s whole story (a Premium & Supreme Report). The latter certificate is especially suitable for high jewellery art because the premium-issued accompanying documents only serve to further emphasise the importance of jewellery.

Finally, I want to briefly share some information on the training courses: everyone can start from scratch or broaden their knowledge in the field of coloured gemstones, including rubies, emeralds, sapphires, in addition to understanding the intricacies of classification and composition of diamonds, learning from experts at De Beers Institute of Diamonds- a partner of DANAT. The Institute also has a separate course on stone faceting, but personally I most liked the sound of their week-long course on pearls, during which one day is allocated to diving for these exquisite minerals in the Arabian Gulf. Perhaps I will see you soon on one of DANAT’s courses?

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