A Complete Guide to GIA Diamonds

Often referred to as ‘the 5th C’, diamond certification is a crucial factor in the diamond buying process. Despite the longstanding popularity and cultural obsession with diamonds, there are only two laboratories that are globally recognised as offering accurate and consistent grades; they are the AGS (American Gem Society Laboratories) and the GIA (Gemological Institute of America).

What Is the GIA?

GIA Logo
The GIA has played vital role in the world of diamonds since it was established in the 1930’s. As a non-profit organization, the GIA does not sell diamonds, rather it is dedicated to diamond research and the non-biased grading of diamonds.
The GIA was founded by jeweler Robert Shipley. He recognized a lack of knowledge and active research amongst American jewelers such as himself when it came to the finer details of diamonds. Shipley completed the Great Britain National Association of Goldsmiths gemological correspondence course and returned to the states armed with the knowledge he would need to sow the seeds for the GIA.
The GIA is at the forefront of gemological discoveries and the development of industry-specific technology. They created the very language that we use to grade diamonds and established the best practices in order to do so. The AGS has since refined standards for grading cut quality; this is why our A CUT ABOVE® super-ideal cut diamonds are AGS certified. You can read more about the differences between GIA and AGS in our guide. Neither GIA nor AGS are ‘better’ per se, rather they are the top labs with small differences that make them suitable for specific desires.

What is a GIA Diamond?

The term ‘GIA diamond’ refers to a diamond that has been through a rigorous analysis and subsequently issued a grading report by the GIA. Though ‘report’ and ‘certificate’ are often used interchangeably, the GIA makes it clear that the document they provide is a scientific report that outlines the quality characteristics of the diamond.

What is a GIA Diamond Report?

When a diamond is submitted to the GIA for grading, the lab must ensure total objectivity is maintained in order to produce a fair and accurate outcome. All diamonds are placed in transparent cases and all packaging/references to owner are replaced simply with a barcode.
The diamond is then scrutinized on color, clarity, cut and carat weight by the GIA diamond graders, gemological experts who use advanced testing equipment to determine the diamond’s qualities. A consensus must be reached among the graders before a final grade is issued.
The GIA offers several different kinds of report:
Full Diamond Grading Report: A full grading report is available for natural diamonds in the normal color range (D-Z), and weighing 0.15ct or more. The report includes: grading results (for 4C’s), shape and cutting style, measurements, additional grading information, clarity characteristics diagram (stone plote), and a report number. Laser inscription on the girdle is also available on request. For round diamonds only a cut grade is given as well.
GIA Full Diamond Grading Report
GIA Full Diamond Grading Report (click to englarge)
Diamond Dossier: A shortened report for D-Z color, natural diamonds weighing 0.15ct to 1.99ct. A diamond dossier report does not contain a stone plot (a map of the inclusions in the diamond), but is automatically laser inscribed to allow for subsequent identification and verification.
GIA Diamond Dossier
GIA Diamond Dossier (click to englarge)
Diamond eReport: An online report for D-Z color, natural diamonds weighing 0.15ct – 1.99ct. The GIA E-report is similar to the dossier in that it does not have a stone plot. Instead it features a magnified photo of the diamond which reveals some aspects of the diamond’s facet arrangement and clarity features.
GIA Diamond eReport
GIA Diamond eReport (click to enlarge)
Diamond Origin Report: The newest member to the GIA collection of reports, the diamond origin report provides the same details as a full diamond report, with the addition of the diamond’s geographical origin. Please be aware that GIA cannot pinpoint the location, and in some cases the origin information will be very general.
Diamond Origin Report
Diamond Origin Report (click to enlarge)
You can purchase loose diamonds and later have them sent to the GIA for grading for a fee (costs vary depending on the report requested and the size of the diamond), however the preferred method for most consumers is to purchase diamonds that have already been graded. These documents give assurance that the diamond is natural and untreated, and remove a huge risk factor. Without a top tier laboratory report, there are far too many unknowns for a purchase of significant monetary or emotional value.
Buying loose, uncertified diamonds is a gamble that is very unwise for the average consumer.

Are GIA Certified Diamonds Better?

One of the reasons that GIA does not use the term certificate or certify, is they are an ethical and unbiased organization. Their goal is not to sell diamonds, but rather to accurately identify and grade them. The GIA will issue a report for any diamond that meets the criteria for submission (i.e. the correct weight, within the D-Z color range etc) – so a GIA certificate does not automatically equate to a high quality diamond.
However, what the GIA does provide is a firm understanding of the specific qualities of a diamond. GIA diamonds are ‘better’ because you know the information provided on the report is accurate, which allows you to balance matters of budget and quality with confidence. Lesser grading authorities (such as EGL) have a reputation for soft or inconsistent grading. This creates disparity and can result in paying more for a diamond that is actually of a lower quality than the report suggests.
Whiteflash, like many other reputable sellers, trust the GIA implicitly. Having a diamond graded by the GIA costs more than subpar labs, but for us this cost is wholly justifiable and essential for giving peace of mind and confidence to our customers.

Should I Buy a GIA Certified Diamond?

We offer a beautiful collection of the finest GIA graded hearts and arrows diamonds. Each one is in-stock and presented with a full GIA report. Each of these brilliant and fiery diamonds is accompanied by additional advanced light performance imaging, attesting to the outstanding precision of their faceting.
Viewing a GIA report alongside our diamond light performance imaging and HD Video gives you the complete picture of your diamond. At Whiteflash, our aim is to bring the best of the best; this means going above and beyond certification and bringing focus to cut quality and light performance. In our eyes, a GIA or AGS certification is absolutely essential. It should not be thought of as a perk or benefit, but rather as a minimum and vital requirement for customers. Please do not settle for less. Search our Loose Diamonds here.

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