It is very important for diamonds shoppers to protect themselves by buying diamonds that were assessed & graded by highly reputable labs, and GIA is the #1 lab that comes to mind or any context when we speak about diamonds certifications.
Why you should educate yourself about diamond grading?
Because there is a lot of unscrupulous trading when it comes to diamond trading.
There are a lot of fake certificates, blood diamonds, and unreliable labs, that’s why you need to know about the best places to buy certified diamonds so you make sure you’re getting what you’re paying for (and of course, playing a role in stopping conflict diamond industry).
Diamonds Before GIA
Before 1930, most people -traders included- knew very little about diamonds. People we buying flawed diamonds at very high prices and traders would unsuspectingly sell diamonds of more value at very low prices.
A jewelry trader named Robert M. Shipley wanted to standardize this industry:
Like the physician, the architect and the engineer, the gemologist must complete prescribed studies and examinations in order to be of exceptional service to the public in the new profession of Gemology
At that time, each jeweler had their own grading system, hence there was no uniformity in standards at all, resulting in more & more confusion in the business, and especially for the consumers.
There was a huge need for knowledge, and a universal solution had to be found.
Then, GIA Came to Life
That trader Robert M. Shipley decided to create an institute that controls & standardizes this mess, and named it GIA, which stands for Gemological Institute of America, and was in 1931.
The institute headquarters is located in Carlsbad CA. The institute is a non profit organization that researches, educates on matters pertaining jewels, grades and issues certificated of diamonds that have passed their standardization test.
GIA has employed experts in the field of diamonds and they are quite thorough in their work. This is the sole reason why it has become one of the most trusted sources of diamond certification in the globe.
Apart from protecting the consumer, it has also helped thousands of individuals grow their careers in this industry.
GIA is present in 8 countries, and have +3500 employees worldwide, they also offer a huge selection of courses in their online academy for those who want to become experts in the field in gemology.
They even offer official diplomas and intensive programs if you want to go beyond an online course, all available on the education section of their website.
How GIA Changed the Diamonds Industry?
GIA was the institute behind almost everything we see in any diamond grading report today (or at least, played a part of it), but out of all diamonds grading characteristics, their main contribution to this industry was the 4Cs.
Yes, GIA created the 4Cs (Cut, Clarity, Color, and Carat) grades we know today, which we use as the very first measures to determine the quality & value of a diamond, in order to see if it matches what we want or no.
Some might think, what’s the deal in creating a grade for simply “weight”? We know weight since the beginning of life.
Let me tell you, before carat, diamonds were sold by size, which in many cases (low cut grades) will look much larger than they actually are, where it’s actually less valuable since it has a low cut grade!
Diamond clarity is influenced by factors such as blemishes that might interfere with the diamonds beauty.
Color is dependent on the yellowness or whiteness of the diamond, white diamonds are more expensive than the ones with a yellow tint.
Diamond Cut is the most important factor among all others, because it can interfere with the symmetry, and symmetry is a critical factor because it influences the brilliance, fire and reflected light.
Fancier cuts are more sophisticated and come with at a higher price, but keep in mind that a wrong cut can make a flawless & D color diamond appear dull.
Diamond Comparison Before & After GIA
When nothing was graded or classified into groups, diamonds comparison was more like comparing an apple to a banana!
Buyers needed (and still) to compare diamonds in order to get the best value for their money. With the absence of a standard certificate, the buyer would get different views and opinions from different sellers, this jeweler told them that a particular diamond has the cleanest surface, the jeweler next door was able to see some inclusions!
This will obviously forces the buyer to settle with the most convincing jeweler since they cannot be sure without the information needed to make their own decision. If the jeweler is dishonest, the buyer ends up getting conned, and this what used to happen before GIA.
When GIA started grading diamonds according to the standards we all know, things became much clearer for everyone (including jewelers), and comparisons were way easier (and made more sense) when GIA issued grades for each diamond characteristic.
How GIA Played a Role in Decreasing Stolen Diamonds Business?
GIA offers the option to inscribe diamonds using laser technology, so they can tell if a diamond came back to them, how this can be useful when diamonds are stolen?
If diamond got stolen, they don’t get stolen with their certificates enclosed (at least that’s what we think in most cases), when the burglar wants to sell that diamond, getting a certificate is crucial to know the value of that diamond, and they have 2 options:
- Sell the diamond for a much cheaper price in black market
- Send it to be graded
If they chose #2, the diamond would be known immediately by grading labs like GIA or AGS, but in 99% of cases, they go the first route, selling it in black market for unfortunately much lesser value (sometimes 10% of its worth!).
If everyone stops buying diamonds without certificates, this black market will eventually disappear, but the truth is, it’s still alive.
GIA and Stopping Conflict Diamonds
Commonly known as blood diamonds, that come from areas where there is illegal mining and production of these diamonds, which involves a great deal of suffering and oppression for the miners, or even worse, the money is used to finance & inflame wars in Africa.
Such diamonds come from factions and governments that are not internationally recognized.
The Kimberley Process was introduced to curb the trading of conflict diamond and since inception, the trade has greatly reduced.
GIA will never certify diamonds that have not passed through the Kimberly process, this way we can keep the world safer and reduce human suffering by buying diamonds that are legitimate, and never financed a war, or obsessed a minor.
Other than stolen diamonds and conflicts, GIA has a lot to offer in terms of assuring diamonds quality.
GIA is a respected and trusted organization, gained trust over almost a hundred years in educating generations of gemologists, grading millions of diamonds, and raising diamonds quality standards,.
So, buying a certified diamond from GIA assures that you are buying quality.
It is better to trust the word from who has nothing to gain from your purchase than to believe the word of a seller who is in business to make profit, as mentioned above, GIA is a non profit organization, meaning that no one will get rich there by grading more diamonds.
Can you imagine buying a very expensive diamond for your loved one, then you discover that the diamond is not of the value you thought it was? Like getting an F color diamond (you thought so), just to discover after regrading it that it’s an H.
That’s why it’s good to know exactly how to buy diamonds the right way.
All GIA-certified diamonds protect buyers from unknowingly buying synthetic jewels.
GIA has continued to provide employment opportunities. A lot of people are employed to conduct the training as well as research and grading. Every time you use GIA services, someone at GIA gets to keep their job.
It has also made it easy for people to join the diamond trade and earn a living. You get to also contribute towards world growth by supporting GIA efforts.
To sum it up, GIA is the best diamond certification lab in the world, and getting a diamond that is graded by GIA guarantees that you’re buying what is exactly listed on the certificate.
It should never be uncomfortable asking the jeweler for the certificate, and even better, always get your diamond online from one of the reputable stores: James Allen, Blue Nile, and Whiteflash.