The diamond industry is highly lucrative. Therefore, its sanctity and integrity must be safeguarded at all costs. One common challenge this industry often faces is the infiltration of blood diamonds. Blood diamonds - also referred to as unethically-sourced diamonds - are those diamonds that are obtained from war-ravaged countries. Such diamonds are sold primarily to finance insurgencies. Another common challenge the diamond industry faces is inconsistencies in grading reports.
As a trader, you deserve protection from investing diamonds with questionable integrity. It’s against that backdrop that the Gemological Institute of America was established. The GIA is an organization that researches, identifies and grades diamonds. Besides, it provides a wealth of resourceful information for would-be diamond traders. Most of this info is available on the company’s website.
History of the GIA
The Gemological Institute of America was established in 1931. That was almost ten years after Robert M. Shipley first conceived the idea. In the early 1920s, Shipley was one of the most successful jewelers in the US. However, he was concerned about the unfortunate state of the industry. At the time, there were no professional bodies to set and regulate industry standards. Therefore, unethical business practices were rampant.
Shipley resolved to bring about the much-required sanity into the industry. He flew to Europe, where he took up a gemological correspondence course in Great Britain National Association of Goldsmiths. He then traveled back to Los Angeles and on 16 September 1930, started a preliminary training program in gemology. The primary mission of this program was to train and certify jewelers.
Shipley reckoned that by so doing, that would help weed out dishonest merchants. All certified jewelers maintained close ties. Eventually, they came together and formed a national jewelers’ guild. The guild sought to offer professional jewelry services to diamond buyers. Instead of the traditional sales-based approach, merchants would now focus on providing invaluable information to their buyers. For the first time, the term “certified gemologists” was born. Diamond buyers were also keen on trading with duly-certified jewelers. And that’s how GIA was established.
GIA’s main objective is to set and maintain the standards used in the evaluation of gemstone quality. The association aims to protect both diamond buyers and sellers from illegal business practices. GIA is presently headquartered in Carlsbad, California. However, it boasts 11 campuses and 4 research centers; all spread across 13 countries. Besides, GIA has up to 9 laboratories dedicated to diamond testing and grading.
Significant Milestones in the History of GIA
1931 – GIA is established.
1937 – The company patents the first gemological microscope. It’s a historic milestone that allows gemologists to examine their gems now more closely.
1953 – GIA coins the Four Cs. To date, the Four Cs is a globally-recognized formula used to determine the quality of diamonds.
1955 – The company issues the first grading reports. The report also receives worldwide recognition immediately.
1956 – GIA devises an ingenious way of detecting diamonds that are irradiated for color enhancement.
1960 – The company publishes the first diamond dictionary. That’s another significant milestone for aspiring gemologists.
1987 - The Liddicoat Gemological Library & Information Center becomes the first library to amass the highest number of books on gemology.
1991 – In line with GIA’s social corporate responsibility, the company hosts its first Career Fair.
1999 – GIA introduces HPHT treatment in the diamond industry. The industry can now use this high-pressure high-temperature technique to establish the value of decolorized diamonds.
2003 – The firm invents a technology used to detect sapphires that are made using beryllium-diffusion techniques. Besides, the company is also now able to identify diamonds that are made from chemical vapor deposition
2005 – GIA comes up with a method for grading the round brilliant diamond cuts, using the D-to-Z color range.
2007 – The organization introduces the Synthetic Diamond Grading Report. It’s now quite easy to establish the quality of lab-grown diamonds.
2014 – GIA comes up with Diamond Check technology. Through this technology, traders can distinguish between natural and synthetic diamonds.
How GIA Diamond Grading Works?
As we’ve already mentioned, GIA primarily conducts research on diamonds and the area of gemology at large. The company focuses most of its studies on diamond identification. GIA strives to help traders around the world to distinguish between real and synthetic diamonds. Especially when such a distinction is impossible to make with the untrained eye.
The company also advances research on the various other aspects of diamonds. After giving us the Four Cs, GIA didn’t stop there. It continues to investigate other elements of diamonds, like fluorescence, all in a bid to establish the right methodologies for determining diamond quality. Besides spearheading research on diamonds, GIA also researches on rubies and sapphires. You can click here to learn more about the company’s ongoing research projects.
In addition to research, GIA also offers holistic education programs. The company has 12 campuses around the world. However, GIA offers most of its courses online, via an interactive eLearning model. That makes the online programs nearly as practical as the on-campus ones. The GIA campus-based programs are accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC). On the other hand, the online programs are accredited by the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC).
One notable course the company offers is the Graduate Gemologist diploma. Some of the skills you’ll learn under this program include; jewelry design, casting, mold making, wax carving, and CAD/CAM. The program covers the full spectrum of how diamond processing works, from exploitation at the mines to production at the factories. You’ll also learn about the various aspects of diamonds and how those aspects influence the quality of the stone. Plus, there are units on how to use gemological equipment safely and effectively.
Upon completion, you receive the Graduate Gemologist diploma. Besides, those who complete the course also receive Graduate Colored Stones and the Graduate Diamonds diplomas. At this point, you’re a certified gemologist. However, you can pursue any other career path of your choice from the list below;
- Jewelry Merchant,
- Diamond Sorter/Grader,
- Diamond Appraiser,
- Diamond Auction Specialist,
- Inventory Control Specialist,
- Estate Jewelry Dealer, and
- Gemological Lab Technician.
The best part is, professionally-trained and certified gemologists administer the courses. Apart from these two learning models, GIA also provides corporate training programs. You can follow this link to apply.
3. Manufacture of Gemological Instruments
GIA designs and manufactures diamond grading instruments. Any diamond merchant can use these apparatus to determine both the physical as well as the optical characteristics of diamonds.
To maintain the industry standards, GIA is selective regarding whom it sells the appliances. You must be a reputable diamond dealer to order these tools. Examples of these instruments include a 10x eye loupe, gem clothes, and tweezers. You can also get other sophisticated equipment such as spectroscopes and microscopes. Visit the GIA store to sample some of these high-end gemological apparatuses.
4. Laboratory Services
Laboratory facilities are also some of GIA’s flagship services. The organization offers professionally-prepared diamond grading reports. The reports typically analyze the four parameters used to determine the quality of diamonds – cut, carat weight, color, and clarity. Usually, there are two types of reports. The Diamond Dossier is a less-thorough, less expensive version of the detailed report. The comprehensive report is known as the Diamond Grading Report.
If you can, always go for the detailed report. It analyses the various elements of the diamond in detail. The Diamond Grading Report will highlight the specific carat weights in the stone. It also specifies the color, country of origin, and cut of the diamond. Above all, the report will state if the stone has any inclusions. Remember, a diamond may look all eye-clean to you. But there could be way too many inclusions that ultimately affect its clarity score. A GIA report seeks to highlight the details that would otherwise escape the attention of the undiscerning buyer.
In most jurisdictions, a seller must issue their buyers with a Diamond Grading Report for sales of 0.5 carats or over. Generally, insist on getting the report even if your purchases are lower than that. A merchant that issues a GIA Grading Report is likely to be reputable.
Why GIA Certificate?
GIA is a non-profit organization. It also works independently. That means there’s no interference from the government, other gemological agencies, or diamond merchants. When seeking professional opinion on diamonds or gems in general, you’d prefer a company that works independently. That way, you’re assured there will be no conflicts of interest. And since GIA is not a profit-seeking organization either, its services are primarily geared towards helping diamond traders.
The company has set and maintained high standards in the industry, mainly due to these two factors. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a diamond dealer seeking to have your diamonds certified. Or a diamond buyer who’s looking for appraisal services. Your best bet is to consult GIA.
Besides being independent and a not-for-profit agency, another thing that makes GIA stand out from most gemological institutes is its massive resource of information. The company seeks to educate members of the general public on all matters diamonds. To that end, GIA runs rigorous outreach programs through periodical publications. One such publication is Gems & Gemology.
Additionally, the organization runs an online Gems Encyclopedia. The encyclopedia contains many of the terms commonly used in the world of gemology. Whether you’re considering taking up a course in gemology or trying to start up a diamond store, you can invest in the Gems Encyclopedia to learn about some basic terms and jargon used in the industry. Some of the terms the encyclopedia tries to explain include the different diamond cuts.
If you’re based in Carlsbad, The Richard T. Liddicoat Gemological Library & Information Center might be your go-to resource center. The Richard T. Liddicoat center is still the world’s largest and most diverse gemological library. It houses over 38,000 books, 700 international magazines, 80,000 digital images, 1,000 videos/DVDs, and 300 maps. Besides, the library features over 6,000 original jewelry-design renderings. Most of these works are older than the library itself. What’s more - the center has reference staffs who are always happy to answer all your diamond-related questions.
Indeed, GIA is a trailblazer in initiating and fostering the best practices in the diamond industry. You can visit this link to check whether they’re present in your location. You can also click here to contact them for any queries and clarifications on diamonds and gems in general.