b'Along time ago in a grading lab not far away, Don Palmieri recalls everybody talking about the proverbial black boxa mythical, singular instrument that determines a diamonds carat weight, cut, clarity and color, and spits it back out again with a grading report.Decades later, the idea of an all-in-one-instrument has morphed from abstract concept into reality, sort of. While it was the fantasy of just about everyone in the gemological world [back then], when you fast-forward [to to-day], we have a lot of black boxes, notes Palmieri, president and co-founder of the Gem Certification & Assurance Lab (GCAL).There is no one machine that does it all, but the technology around diamonds and diamond grading has advanced considerably. Scientists have developed machines to measure a diamonds light performance and created methods to track stones through the supply chain. There are cameras that take 360-degree pictures and instruments that aid in distinguishing between natural and lab-grown diamonds.And, there are machines that can grade a diamonds color without human intervention and even determine clarity, considered the trickiest of the 4Cs for machines to tackle, that are currently in use by two of the biggest players in the industry, the Gemological Institute of America and Sarine Technologies Ltd. While the idea of automated grading might be unfathomable to some gemologists, its not at all shocking to Palmieri, who has witnessed the evolution of grading technology for decades and knew the industry would get here, someday.Though Ive never been what I would call a technologist, I always realized there was technology; I knew it was there, I knew it was coming. Whats happening right now, today, does not surprise me. Its just sort of like, where have you been? Ive been waiting for you. However, with modern technology comes questions and concerns about how the machines work, their accuracy, and, probably the biggest worry of all: if, in the future, machines are going to grade diamonds, will gemologists find themselves out of a job? NATIONAL JEWELER 53'