Buying diamonds that are “certifiably” beautiful...
Diamond imperfections can impact both sparkle and durability, and it’s important to purchase a quality stone that can withstand daily wear for your engagement ring. Luckily, a diamond with GIA “certification” and a clear grading report can protect your investment! But, what exactly does “GIA certification” mean? And what does a GIA diamond grading report entail?🤔
Let’s take a closer look at:
It goes without saying that GIA diamond grading reports come from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA)—the leading authority on diamond grading and inspection. The organization was established in 1931 by Robert Shipley, a businessman who hoped to professionalize the jewelry industry through education.
Before long, Robert Shipley created the “Certified Gemologist” program, which offered classes for jewelry professionals. What started as an endeavor to restore the nation’s trust in jewelry salespeople became a global initiative to train and certify diamond experts around the globe!
Besides education resources and programs, one of the greatest innovations to arise from the GIA is the 4Cs. Created in the 1940s, these four criteria—Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat—are the building blocks of diamond grading.
These criteria are now the global standard for diamond grading, bringing together diamond experts worldwide with a straightforward, efficient process for judging a diamond’s sparkle. And all of this information can be found in a diamond’s GIA grading report!
When reading the paperwork that comes with a diamond, there are several terms that can seem confusing. Here’s a breakdown of GIA diamond certification and common terminology used in diamond grading:
Saying a diamond has “GIA certification” is a misnomer, as the GIA doesn’t “certify” diamonds.⚠️ However, they do provide grades for the finer details of a diamond’s color, cut, clarity, and carat. Consequently, many retailers state a diamond has “GIA certification” when it bears a GIA grade.
Similarly, the GIA does not issue “certificates” for diamonds, but they do include diamond specs in the grading report.
To say the GIA offers diamond “certification” would imply each stone has gone through an independent, third-party review. In reality, this isn’t the case, and skilled GIA professionals award diamonds their grades. This is an important distinction that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends buyers pay close attention to!
As such, just understand that many sellers use the term “GIA certification” to promote their product and suggest their gemstones have documentation to verify their quality. They’re most likely saying they have diamond grading reports, but there is no paperwork that “certifies'' your diamond!🔔
Again we shall say it: the GIA doesn’t “certify” diamonds. However, GIA experts DO meticulously grade diamonds in their lab via rigorous testing and inspection.
So, when you see the words “GIA certified”, you’re likely shopping at a retailer who offers GIA GRADED diamonds. Retailers offering GIA-certified diamonds are promising well-reviewed gemstones, and they should be ready to share the diamond report with you to verify all of the details mentioned above.
The GIA diamond report is the series of documentation provided with any diamond graded by the GIA.
As mentioned above, the GIA grades diamonds on every aspect of color, cut, clarity, carat, and more. In addition to the proper measurements and grades, the GIA grading report also includes a “diamond plot” or a map of all inclusions and blemishes on or within your chosen stone.
In truth, the GIA diamond report is one of the most respected documents in diamond buying. The paperwork for each diamond is like its ID, detailing all of its identifying information in one place!🏆
The GIA provides a grading report with every diamond they inspect! Let’s dive into the GIA diamond grades, the grading report, and other related topics:
There are multiple checks and balances that make the GIA grading process an exact, reliable measure of a diamond’s quality. Here’s what goes into grading a GIA diamond:
At GIA labs, all diamonds are stored in their own transparent cases with custom barcodes for identification and tracking purposes. Additionally, all client information is masked throughout the process as well as in the software system graders use to log their findings.
By removing ownership information from diamonds, lab professionals can designate impartial grades to each stone without external bias.
As diamonds travel through a GIA lab, they are handled with incredible care to guarantee they are not damaged. This includes all steps in the grading process as well as during shipping back to the client!
Weight and measurements are a crucial part of the diamond grading process. As such, The GIA only uses electronic micro-balances to weigh diamonds. These balances are incredibly precise, and they weigh diamonds to the fifth decimal place.
For facets, angles, and all other proportions, graders use an optical measuring device to make sure they’re getting the most exact numbers possible.
Before a diamond’s 4Cs are graded, GIA experts must test each stone with a GIA DiamondCheck device. This instrument can tell whether a stone is a natural diamond or not, and it can even detect whether the gem has been treated in some way. Furthermore, it can identify lab-grown diamonds, which is a designation that appears on a diamond grading report.
Each diamond’s color is evaluated independently against a standardized white background. Proper light sources are also implemented for easy identification of yellowish hues within each stone.
All color graders must submit their findings individually into the GIA’s software system. What’s more, each diamond does not receive just one opinion, but rather its grade consists of several opinions from a team of independent graders. Once there are enough agreeing opinions, that color grade is assigned to the diamond.
Clarity and finish grades actually require multiple rounds of independent graders examining each diamond! First, they inspect the stone with 10x magnification under standard viewing conditions to locate any signs of laser drilling, treatments, fillings, or other clarity/finish characteristics.
Simultaneously, the grader will enter their opinion of the diamond’s polish, symmetry, and overall clarity into the system. He or she will then choose a diamond plot to map out all of the imperfections they’ve encountered.
Next, the grader must verify the diamond’s weight and measurements as well as indicate the state of the stone’s culet and girdle thickness. Once this is done, the diamond may be double or triple-checked, and additional inspections by more experienced gemologists may be necessary to achieve the right amount of agreeing opinions to assign a grade.
Graders utilize a diamond’s proportions as well as its polish and symmetry notes to designate a cut grade. This final step also accounts for the diamond's fire, brilliance, and scintillation, and its weight ratio and durability also make an appearance in these calculations.
There are actually FIVE different GIA grading documents available for diamonds! However, we’ll break down the two most common reports below: the GIA Diamond Grading Report and the GIA Diamond Dossier.
The GIA diamond grading report includes every detail you could possibly need regarding your diamond’s grades. This document is available for every diamond inspected by the GIA in the D-Z color range, and it has a full quality analysis of each grade and related criteria.
The GIA diamond grading report also includes a diamond plot, so you can see the location of any inclusions and blemishes. The diamond plot also lists proportions as well as GIA grading scales.
The GIA diamond dossier is basically a “lite” version of the diamond grading report! It includes all of the quality analysis details of the grading report, but it does NOT have a diamond plot.
Unlike the grading report, a diamond dossier doesn’t come with every diamond in the D-Z color range. Instead, diamonds that are 0.15-1.99 carats are issued a dossier. However, all diamonds that receive a dossier are also laser inscribed and are noted in the GIA inspection registry.
A GIA diamond grading report provides a wealth of information about your diamond! The details listed in a diamond grading report include:
Let’s look at an example to see where you can find important info! This is a real GIA diamond grading report below.
We’ll divide this section by page:
This page is reserved for the finer details of your diamond. At the top, the “GIA Diamond Grading Report” section lists the date of your stone’s inspection, the report number, the gem’s shape and cutting style, and its measurements.
Then, the “Grading Results” section notes the diamond’s carat weight, color and clarity grades, and its overall cut grade. Finally, the last section, “Additional Grading Information”, includes polish and symmetry grades as well as information regarding your diamond’s fluorescence.
This last section is also where you’ll find additional comments and info regarding any inscriptions or potential stable treatments your diamond may have.
The center of your GIA diamond grading report is where you’ll find the diamond plot. This section usually has two different diagrams: one for “Proportions” that includes your stone’s relevant measurements and another for “Characteristics” or any inclusions/blemishes.
The third page of your GIA diamond grading report is more for reference, as it includes the full scales used to grade diamonds for color, clarity, and cut. However, it’s an excellent tool for understanding where your diamond falls on the larger scale of each diamond grading criterion!
Another document well-respected in the diamond industry is the report provided for diamonds graded by the American Gem Society (AGS). Similar to the GIA diamond report, the AGS grades diamonds with strict criteria, but their process and requirements are slightly different.
Founded in 1934, the AGS focuses on protecting buyer interests from fraud and false advertising by retailers. In the interest of safeguarding consumers and creating a transparent buying process, over 3,400 diamond retailers, distributors, and professionals have joined the AGS today!
However, only 1 in 20 jewelers actually meets the criteria necessary to join the AGS. That’s because the organization insists on a rigorous application process and strict requirements for entry to ensure every member is providing a top-notch shopping experience to clients.
The AGS takes the same approach to diamond grading, and their labs are known to be uncompromising. They take pride in their work and promise superior ethical conduct and exacting grades for each diamond specimen!
So how do AGS and GIA diamond reports differ? Both groups provide comprehensive details about your diamond in an easy-to-read format, and they pride themselves on accurate grading. However, the scales and criteria they use to grade a diamond differ slightly.
When it comes to diamond cut, the GIA relies on a grading scale that ranges from Poor to Excellent, and there are 5 possible grades. In short, they focus on diamond proportions, polish, symmetry, weight ratio, and fire, brilliance, and scintillation in their grading.
In contrast, the AGS offers 11 possible cut grades! Diamond cut grades range from 0 to 10, which allows for more precise grading. While each number correlates to a “verbal” category—for instance, grades 5 to 7 rank as “Fair” on the AGS scale—11 possible scores mean more precise cut grades and the ability to create a hierarchy within each category.
Furthermore, an AGS diamond cut grade requires extra testing for light performance in addition to studying the stone’s proportions and symmetry. Light performance tests require the use of ASET and Idealscope imagery as well as advanced analytical software to grade light play accurately.
Finally, the AGS actually has an entirely new category of diamond cut grade that the GIA does not. A grade 0, or Ideal diamond, is thought to be the cream of the crop, and these stones are completely optimized for light play and take up to 4x more effort to create!
So why should you want a GIA diamond report? Here’s a round-up of all the benefits you receive when buying a diamond with a GIA diamond grading report:📑
Learn more about GIA's next-generation report—GIA Blockchain Diamond Grading Report📹👇🏻
Both the GIA and AGS offer quality diamond reports and unparalleled grading processes to guarantee your diamond is graded fairly and transparently. However, despite this, the GIA is widely regarded as the authority on diamond grading due to their research regarding the 4Cs, and there’s a higher demand for their reports over AGS documentation.🙂
Overall, the GIA made the rules for diamond grading, and we highly recommend purchasing a diamond that has a GIA diamond grading report. A GIA report secures your diamond’s value, and having this paperwork is important when looking to insure your diamond or include it as part of an estate, will, etc.
But, if you’re more interested in your stone’s light performance, consider looking at diamonds with AGS reports to see if they would be right for you. The AGS is still an exemplary diamond authority, and while most prefer the GIA, the AGS is an excellent choice for individuals more interested in finding the sparkliest diamond possible!