When you’re shopping for rings, chances are you’ll come across the words:
Simply put, GIA is an independent authority on diamonds,
it created the 4Cs used to grade diamonds and when this term is associated with a certain stone it proves that it has been graded by this organization.
Should you be relying on this entity when shopping for engagement rings or other jewelry?
Smart buyers do.
Let’s answer your questions so you can shop the right way too.
A GIA Diamond Explained
‘GIA diamond’ is how jewelers refer to stones which GIA has already graded.
It’s important to also know who GIA is: It’s an independent NPO involved in various gem related tasks:
Educating professional in the industry
Setting standards used for defining a stone’s quality
Diamond grading, for which GIA devised the standard of using weight in carats, the color, a stone’s cut as well as the clarity.
This is called the ‘4 Cs’ in the diamond industry.
There are scientific processes with which professionals can determine each C of a certain stone.
GIA also set up a list of appropriate terms to describe the various features.
GIA is not a mine, doesn’t do stone appraisals and is also not a commercial trader who sells or buys stones.
By operating separately from all these commercial activities, the organization maintains objectivity and can make unbiased decisions.
How does this knowledge apply to you as a buyer?
In your own interest you should be on the lookout for GIA diamonds and ask sellers for grading reports from this organization.
That’s how you can ensure what quality of stone you’re investing in.
Because quality affects price this is essential to make sure you get value for the money you pay.
Are All Diamonds GIA Stones?
You’ll find a large percentage of diamonds are GIA-graded these days, because sellers and buyers trust the entity’s independent functioning & accuracy in diamond grading.
But not all of them have GIA reports.
If you want to ensure you get a GIA diamond, request a stone’s GIA report from the jeweler. On this you’ll find:
The 4 Cs assessment
A number unique to that stone, and this is occasionally also added to the gem’s girdle
That unique reference is important: use the organization’s online database’s ‘Report Check’ for verification and viewing the various aspects of its grading.
This is a global database that any buyer from around the globe can use.
GIA Certification: What Does it Really Mean?
Be careful when you speak about diamonds: while GIA isn’t involved in ‘certifying’ diamonds, many professionals and consumers talk about “GIA certified diamonds”.
You’ll also come across terms such as ‘CIA cert’.
In truth, GIA only grades stones.
But these terms are widely mentioned in the industry when role players talk about GIA reports and the stones that have gone through GIA’s steps of being graded.
From GIA you won’t see a mention of a ‘certificate’, not even to refer to the documentation they provide.
Their activities should be referred to as:
Examinations of stones
Assessments of the gems regarding cut, clarity, color and carats
Descriptions of the diamonds
The outcome is an evaluation, called a ‘report’, which can be given in various formats, even digital.
This is similar to what many scientific laboratories call the documentation they issue.
Nowhere in the process does the entity provide certification or even refer to the stone’s value.
Is GIA Objective? How is This Maintained?
Built into GIA’s processes are procedures that make sure each stone is treated anonymously and that the entity stays objective when grading the gem:
Stones are put in see-through cases when they arrive.
The transparent container doesn’t showcase information about the gem’s owner, because it is concealed, or someone removes it completely upon arrival.
Instead of the name of the owner, a barcode is allocated to each stone.
This code is placed on a label and helps to track & identify the gem as it moves through the grading steps.
Thanks to anonymity you can be sure your diamond’s grading is done objectively, with the report containing an accurate representation of the stone’s features.
Consensus among role players is vital in the grading process.
It will start off with graders that consider the 4 Cs of each stone.
Gemmologists with more experience can then review the data of a stone and offer independent feedback.
Only when there’s agreement between these role players will GIA issue a grading.
Is the Grading Process Really Necessary for my Diamond?
Not only does engagement jewelry symbolize a long-term commitment, but you’re making an expensive purchase.
That makes it important to weigh your options before deciding.
Make sure you get value for the money you spend.
You can easily do that by choosing a GIA diamond.
Thanks to the advanced equipment and manner of testing each stone, the GIA report gives you the data that proves it’s a natural gem and what value you’ll get with that stone:
Treatments it underwent
GIA continually does research, so you know state of the art instruments are used to provide you with the necessary information.
This report also becomes an easy tool to compare different stones to each other.
There’s no bias in reporting from GIA, so you can make a fair comparison of quality.
Identify which one will give you the most value, and which one aligns with your preferences.
You can think of a GIA report in the same way as getting an objective assessment when buying a new home or a vehicle.
Similar to purchasing these assets, proof of GIA grading may be a prerequisite to have the asset insured; in this case the asset is your new diamond.
Getting Your GIA Diamond Certification
Let’s be clear once again: while ‘certification’ is a common term,
‘Grading’ is the accurate reference to the GIA process.
Any individual is eligible to request a GIA report for their diamond.
You simply submit it by taking it to one of nine GIA labs.
These are situated in cities known as jewelry capitals, situated across the globe.
You can do this yourself, but be prepared for a complex process regarding insurance, how to ship the diamond and properly wrapping your valuable package.
A more effortless process is to ask your jeweler for assistance.
As mentioned, a large percentage of diamonds on today’s market is already graded and you can request this report when you buy yours.
Once the sale is complete the document should be presented to you to take home.
Do You Pay More for GIA Graded Diamonds?
Surprisingly and contrary to many people’s belief, a GIA graded stone doesn’t necessarily have a higher price tag.
This assumption is made when individuals compare stones by only looking at their prices.
Remember that price of any product closely relates to its quality.
Without an assurance of the quality you won’t know whether you’re paying an unnecessarily high price, or you’re actually getting a bargain.
The right way to go about it is to take two stones that are similar in the details of the 4 Cs and compare these gems’ prices with each other.
Remember, to ensure a fair comparison, it’s important the 4 Cs be graded by the same independent party, such as GIA.
The good news is that you don’t have to pay that much to get your stone’s grading.
For smaller stones between 0.70 carats and 0.99 carats you can pay less than $50.
For sizes up to 1.49 carats it only costs around $80.
That’s a very low cost when compared to what many people spend on engagement rings.
In 2017, the average for this type of jewelry was over $6300 (USD).
It’s worth getting grading done so you have no question about the quality of your gem.
Also, when purchasing a diamond from a jeweler, this grading cost is usually worked into the selling price.
Where to Purchase Your GIA Diamond
When you shop at reputable jewelers, GIA reports are often a given.
You can also use the Retailer Lookup to determine where appropriate sellers are located near you.
Ideally, they should have GIA diamonds on their stock list and have staff members trained by GIA.
These days you can even search for GIA graded stones online, with many eCommerce jewelry stores having these gems on offer.
Now you have the knowledge to make an informed decision.
Pick the stone for your engagement ring that looks spectacular and comes with the right paperwork too.