When you start out your quest to select the perfect diamond for that very special ring, you may not know very much about diamonds, and that might be daunting. For many purchasing a diamond for an engagement ring, for example, it is often a step into previously unexplored territory for them. Those who have bought diamonds previously would typically have a better understanding with regard to the ways in which the precious stones are ranked, compared and sold. If you are a first timer, there’s no need to be too anxious about this. We are here to help you; furthermore, these days there is an extensive array of readily available information. In particular there is a global system of grading diamonds which amounts effectively to a ‘safety net’ for consumers. is done by the Gemological Institute of America, usually referred to as the GIA. A substantial proportion of diamonds sold around the world have been graded by the GIA, which provides one-off certificates for each and every stone it examines. These bona-fide certificates provide the highest form of protection or guarantee for buyers as to the authenticity, quality and ethical sourcing of a diamond. At Paul Bram, all of our diamonds are certified by the GIA. This enables you, our valued customer, to have total confidence in the virtue and value of the diamond you select. We will of course answer any questions you may have with regard to a stone’s GIA certification and grading, during the process of choosing a diamond with one of our specialists. However, we are often asked, as a general query, “How do I check a GIA diamond grading?” For those pondering this question, read on to learn all about this very important matter.
WHAT IS THE GIA?
The Gemological Institute of America, or GIA, was founded in 1931. They are based in California, USA. It has a few functions, but its primary purpose is to protect both buyers and sellers of diamonds and other precious stones. It does this by framing and advancing the standards for evaluating the quality of gemstones. The GIA is also involved in ongoing research and education. It is an organisation which operates globally – with laboratories, research facilities and offices in 13 different countries.
GIA research is instrumental in evolving the science of gemmology. New techniques for identifying and grading gemstones are regularly tried and tested by the GIA; breakthroughs in the field are evaluated, and all the work they do diverts into their terrific educational programmes.
The GIA tests not only diamonds but also gemstones such as sapphires, rubies, emeralds and even pearls. They are also involved in designing and producing the professional instruments and equipment used for analysing gemstones.
GIA certificates include a ‘report’ which is a science based, impartial assessment of a stone’s quality. This is described mainly in terms relating to the ‘4 C’s’ – colour, clarity, cut and carat. The quality of a diamond or other precious stone – and subsequently its value – is ascertained as a combination of these four factors. The GIA report will provide an in-depth description of the stone in question, and disclose any flaws or treatments. A GIA certificate is more than just the average valuation paperwork which accompanies many consumer products, it is more particular and specialised than that. Every single one is unique, has been compiled via the expertise of several specialists, and is very important documentation that serves both vendors and buyers equally. Quite amazing really. A diamond’s GIA certificate is to that stone what your birth certificate and passport combined are to you, we might say!
WHAT ABOUT ETHICAL SOURCING?
The GIA is a key figure in the global effort to stamp out the unethical mining and supply of gemstones, particularly diamonds. The process of establishing that a diamond has been ethically sourced is known as the Kimberley Process. The mission statement for the Kimberley process is “a commitment to remove conflict diamonds from the global supply chain. Today, participants prevent 99.8% of the worldwide trade.” ‘Conflict’ diamonds, also sometimes referred to as ‘blood’ diamonds, may have been mined illegally or in circumstances which are unethical or contravene human rights standards, in terms of mining practices and wages and conditions. Or, rough diamonds can be used as financial backing to fund illegal wars and militias, in developing countries. You want to know that the diamond you choose has been legitimately and ethically sourced, of course. Your gemstone’s GIA certification is also your ticket to peace of mind on that count. The Kimberley Process involves a lot of background work from a number of parties, for each diamond, so the seal of approval from them is no light matter.
WHAT ABOUT DIAMONDS WHICH ARE NOT GIA CERTIFIED?
Ideally, your diamond has been certified. If you buy it from Paul Bram it will certainly be certified, by the GIA. You may have an heirloom gemstone or diamond acquired elsewhere which is not certified. This does not necessarily mean its quality is compromised or that it was somehow unethically sourced or was a conflict diamond. In the past, many excellent stones with a decent provenance but without GIA certification were sold by jewellers, because it allowed them to keep their assessments and valuations in-house and personalised – the dealer can describe and advertise the quality and value of the stone as they see fit. Also, certification costs. It does involve additional expenses for dealers. So, by avoiding these extra outgoings, they could potentially offer stones at lower prices. Favourable conditions for the seller, but not really for the buyer. You cannot be guaranteed that the diamond is ethically sourced, conflict free or exactly what the dealer says it is. You’ll have to take their word for it. Are you happy to do that, when it comes to such a significant purchase? For most people the answer is no.
By the way, there are alternatives to buying diamonds which have recently been mined from the earth, which may be of interest. These are laboratory diamonds and recycled gemstones. Laboratory grown diamonds are rather like the gemstone equivalent of a cultured pearl. Lab diamonds are essentially man made, but are considered genuine diamonds, and they too will come with a GIA certificate. Another option is ‘recycled’ diamonds. These are diamonds which may have been mined years ago, have been previously owned but have been re-purposed, possibly re-cut, definitely re-polished and re-set. These are then sent off to receive GIA certification, if appropriate. They have all the same characteristics, as far as quality is concerned, as newly mined diamond – but have not travelled quite the same path by the time they reach the point of sale. It is an alternate choice with environmentally friendly kudos.
CHECKING OUT THE GIA AND THEIR CERTIFICATES
The GIA is a fascinating organisation and their website is well worth having a look through. On their website, you can perform a ‘report check’, which will verify a diamond’s certification. GIA certified diamonds all get a unique serial number, which is laser inscribed on the stone, in the area known as the ‘girdle’, which is the slender perimeter of the stone, between the top or ‘crown’ and the underside, or ‘pavilion’. It’s the widest part of the diamond. The laser inscription is so tiny, that you will definitely have trouble reading it at home, unless you have specialist magnification equipment. The easiest thing to do is take the gemstone to your jeweller and we will be able to read the unique identifying number and then match it up with the corresponding report and certificate. If you do this with your jeweller, they can also take you step by step through all the elements involved and details associated with the stone’s background and sourcing, GIA paperwork and quality assessment and valuation. Nellie Barnett is an industry expert and manager of public relations at the GIA. Her summation: “We’ve been doing this for decades, and have graded tens of millions of diamonds. The GIA Diamond Grading Report is the premier credential of a diamond’s authenticity and quality, especially when buying engagement rings.”
At Paul Bram we are always happy to discuss all aspects of our beautiful diamonds and other gemstones with our clients. Whether it be provenance and GIA certification, current market value or insurance valuation, we can offer you the discreet and professional advice you seek around your precious stones, engagement & wedding rings and any other beloved jewellery.
Is GIA the only diamond certifying organisation?
No it’s not, there are others, but GIA certification is universally understood to be the best.
What is the most important factor in the process of diamond grading?
The GIA needs to be consistent and strict in its gradings.
Is it really important to get diamond certification?
Yes, it really is. You shouldn’t buy a diamond which doesn’t come with the appropriate paperwork.