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How Does This Gsl Compare To A Gia Grade?

James Harper

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I have been doing research for a little while now, but pass the basics of color, cut, clarity, and carat I am a little helpless. I found a diamond that I like, and that fits in my budget, but I do sacrafice some things, though I sacraficed in the order my girlfriend values. I am looking for Color and Clarity mostly, and am sacraficing on Carat and Cut. I decided to go to a local, and trusted jeweler whose business has been in his family for nearly 75 years. He directed me towards diamonds within my budget, and educated me a little further on the types of certification he offers with them, and was very honest with me when I chose a Gem Scan Labs diamond. He informed my that GS or GSL (not sure which it goes by) is usually lower priced than GIA because it is a smaller lab based out of Canada. Though I think all his GSL diamonds are from Canada, so that would be why they are GSL. He also said they could be somewhat more leniant on grading vs GIA, but that both labs follow the same standards set by GIA.


The diamond I am looking at is a GSL certified, G (near colourless), SI-2, 0.63 carat, Good cut diamond with a measurment of 5.30 x 5.24 x 3.48mm. Under the loupe I can see some imperfections, but with my naked eye I don't see any. It was the same with an almost identical GIA diamond with a 0.60 carat rating, though not sure the measurements (I only took a copy of the GSL diamond, since if I learn that this GSL diamond is not worth it, I will buy a similiar priced GIA diamond).


I tried to read up on measurements, and to learn if this diamond is too shallow or too deep, and if this grade of Good is accurate, but I am horrible at math so I decided to just see if anyone here is able to look at the measurements and determine the quality of cut. I am aware that many people place cut first, but I think I read somewhere that if you place a lower carat, lower cut into a halo or framed setting it kind of gives the diamond a visual "boost", and that is what I plan on doing. The band is also covered in diamonds too!


So please, give me your honest oppinion. This GSL diamond is about all I can afford, and I think I found a good balance between Color, Clarity, Carat, and Cut, but while I know what is good in each of 4 Cs I am still not sure when it comes to how the diamond averages out all together. I didn't want to go to a smaller carat, because the setting she liked fits between a .5 and .75 carat diamond, and upping the Cut means lowering the carat. Anyway, please give me your input, and see if you think it would be comparable to a GIA grading. Granted, you cannot see the actual diamond yourself, but comparing the two side by side, the color and clarity seemed close, and to the naked eye looked identical. Did I give enough information? I will add more if I need to.


Thank you in advance.

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Hello James, and welcome.


Let me clear out a couple of misconceptions. There is no such thing as a "GIA diamond" (or a GSL diamond, for that). GIA and GSL will grade any diamond that is sent their way for a fairly modest fee. The cost for a full GIA report for a stone 0.47 to 0.69 carat is US$64. As such the spiel that your seller gave you about "a GSL-graded stone is cheaper than GIA because GIA is so expensive" is just total bullshit. Here are the GIA fees - updated every month: http://www.gia.edu/l...-Diamond-US.pdf


Second misconception - either the labs follow the same standard, or they do not. Although the difference is totally invisible to the naked eye (or indeed with a 10x loupe once set), a 1.00 E/VS1 is less than half the price of a 1.00 D/IF. If a lab calls the E/VS1 "D/IF", that is not being "more lenient", that is using different standards. And it has a VERY significant impact on what is the fair price for a stone. A fairly graded 0.60 G/SI2 is also about 50% more than an I/I1 - but they will look remarkably similar, particularly if the inclusions in the I1 are quite benign.


One thing I can assure you of is that if the GSL diamond is "cheaper" than another diamond equivalently graded by GIA, it is not because the GSL stone is "a bargain". Usually it's quite the opposite.


So, that's two strikes for the vendor. The third one is the "good" cut. There is very little information you have posted, but the 66% depth means that your 0.63 faces up about as big as a well cut 0.55 - which is not what you want. Dropping cut quality to get "better" colour is not in my view a smart move ever, and particularly in a smaller stone.


One of the things you haven't mentioned is what your budget actually is. Take a look using the Diamond Finder, and you should be able to see prices for many other options. If you feel comfortable posting your budget, I'd be more than happy to help you find some alternatives (and some of those may well be available to your chosen jeweller too) - at the very least to give you a better bargaining position.

Edited by davidelevi
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So, the jeweler sends the diamonds out to get graded personally? They do not buy them already graded? I was unaware this is how it worked, but am glad that you have informed me of such. I was thinking that, in very simplistic terms, people mined the diamonds and sent them to whichever lab to get certified - not sure where the actual cutting of the diamonds took place - then the labs sold the diamonds. Totally bought his little speech, and I will be certain not to go back. I already have the setting, all I need it the diamond.


I recently bought a house and am making house payments, so at this time I cannot afford a diamond that is too expensive. The diamond I was looking at was $579 and I was hoping to stay under $600. Yes I know it is a very low budget to be working with, but I did spend $800 roughly on the setting/ring itself, so I am not completely pulling the cheap-o card. The cheapest diamond below $600, yes still close to roughly .6 carats would be this diamond 0.59 I I1 GIA 65.5% 63.0% none poor good med none 5.14x5.39x3.45 $ 562

but overall I feel it is actually worse than the current one, though slightly cheaper and is GIA certified.


The next diamond that, if I step up from good to vgood (I don't think I can afford anything higher at the moment) would be this one:

0.55 H I1 EGL 57.7% 67.0% none good vgood med-sthk none 5.34x5.42x3.10

$ 652


It is just slightly over my budget, and is roughly the same size as the .63 I was looking at, though its clarity is two steps down (I am new to this SI-3 clarity), but has a very good cut. However, I am a bit hesitant to buy a diamond online.


One last thing, as I was trying to do more research on GSL, I learned that Zales' Certified Canadian Diamond brand is certified by them, and dear me! Are their prices really that inflated? Or is it that "authentic canadian diamonds" have a higher value?


My setting looks a lot like one of zales', but they only have a 1/3 ct H/I I1 in it, and they want $1899! Now I am just worried that maybe I am missing something.

This is the ring:


I can still return my setting (I have 90 days) and just find something that comes to around $1400 from Zales, which was my total budget for a ring, if you think it would be less hassle free, and if Zales is actually a good place to buy from. Or any of the large "mall" stores.

This would probably be the one I would get:


but I am just so unsure of myself now. I thought I was really getting a deal with that GSL certified diamond. Now I feel like I just won't be able to afford a nice diamond for my girl while staying in budget. And the guy at the store made me feel like, while little, that diamond was a good diamond and a good value.


However, on the bright side, it seems like "good" cuts for this size of diamond do seem to be in the same ballpark as the other diamond I was looking at, with a 64%-66% depth, so I guess if there is any good out of this educating experience, is that GSL seems to grade cuts about equally. Who knows about the rest. I did find their website though:


Perhaps you can tell their method for grading there.


Thank you for helping me, even though it was bad news, I am just glad to be informed before I made the purchase.

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Diamonds are sent for grading some times by the cutter, some times by the wholesaler and some times by the retailer, but in no case does the lab buy the diamond for resale. The labs grade diamonds in exchange for a (low) fee, and have no say on the price at which the diamond is sold.


Canadian diamonds: they are more expensive partly because of marketing and partly because of higher costs in mining and working (Canadian salaries are quite a bit higher than in South Africa or Russia). People pay the premium because they like the idea of buying Canadian, or because they want a diamond that is definitely "conflict free" and perceived as less exploitative. As far as I know, after the initial sale to a consumer, no-one is willing to recognise higher prices for a diamond just because it comes from Canada.


GSL (and others) grading systems. Grading diamond cut properly is a lot more complicated than just looking at depth percentages. Don't assume that all diamonds with a 65% depth are "good" cut. Some may well be a lot poorer than others. Here is the GIA microsite on cut, where there is a pretty good explanation of how GIA developed its own cut grading system: http://www.gia.edu/diamondcut/index.cfm.


Bear in mind that on cut, as well as on colour and clarity, the greater issue with labs is not whether the standard is higher or lower (is a GIA F master stone whiter than an EGL D master stone?), but the consistency with which the grades are assigned. A diamond graded by EGL (or GSL) can be one, two or even six grades apart from what GIA would grade it - but the consumer seeing that stone has no way of knowing if it is one or six.


Zales: I honestly would not advise you to buy either of those rings. First of all, you are buying something with a "range" of size, colour and clarity. You can bet your bottom dollar that anything you are sold will be at the bottom of the range (or below it). Secondly, I'd stay well away from I1-I2-I3 stones sold without a report, and from I2 and I3 stones regardless of how many reports they have. Thirdly, I understand the reason for you wanting a halo and/or pave ring. However, pave setting and halo making are things that require time and skill (read: cost) to get right. A cheaply made setting may look pretty good in a CAD rendering or sample image; it may look completely different in reality, and most importantly it won't last well, particularly if worn every day as an engagement ring.


As a separate point on Zales (and in general on jewellery) - one of the reasons why "online" retailers have lower prices is because they have lower costs. High street locations (or mall locations), sales assistants, financing programmes and all the other bells and whistles are nice but expensive. Buying a diamond graded by a reliable lab and backed by a 30 or 60 day return program can be a lot better value for money, and lower risk too...


Finally, if I may suggest a review of priorities: you are doing the right thing by buying a house, and that must take priority over splashing out on jewellery. You have set a budget, and you should stick to it - however, spending 2/3 of it on the setting is in my opinion not wise.


If you (or your to-be fiancée) are in love with the setting, please consider the option of getting a diamond simulant in the centre. A good quality 5.50 mm CZ will be less than $50 once set, and it will look a thousand times better than a poorly cut, highly included diamond. You can always buy her a nice diamond once money is a little less tight.


If you really want to give her a diamond ring, then get a simple, good quality solitaire setting for $500 or less, and spend $1000 or so in getting a good looking centre (I or J/SI should be achievable in a size equal to the diamonds you have been looking at). Again, you will have plenty of opportunities later for upgrading the setting, the centre or both.

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Thank you so much for the extra information, I will do some snooping and find out if she would be happy without a halo setting. I agree, it was a little silly to spend more money on the setting, but I knew she really loved it so I bought it. This was, of course, before I set out to learn and shop for a diamond. In hindsight, I would do my research first then make purchases. I really wish I had discovered this site sooner, it would have probably saved a lot of stress on my part.


I have to admit though, I am shocked that you suggested a CZ stone for the middle. I had thought about getting a CZ and telling her that once I have more wiggle room in my budget I would buy her a real diamond, but then I thought - and had read - that many women find CZ stones to be repulsive and trashy, at least when it comes to an engagement ring. It is a great idea for saving money, and you're right, it would probably look better than a small, possibly cloudy, poorly cut real diamond. I will also try to find out if she would be okay with a CZ. We wouldn't have to tell anyone, and then when I can afford it, I would replace it.


Another thing that I found interesting, why are halo settings fragile? I understand the pave set in the band being compromised if the ring is sized down too small, but what makes the halo setting fragile? Is it because of the way it is sitting? Sadly, I was told that the halo around the center stone actually protects the center stone, and because its actually formed onto the band itself, it is more stable than a regular solitare. Now I am thinking that I bought yet another load of bologna, and am seriously considering sending it back. If my girlfriend still really wants a halo setting, would it be a little better the get a halo setting with a plain band? Or just stick with the tried and true regular solitare?


To touch on another point you brought up about diamond grading, and how the grading process works - if I were to evenutally buy a nice diamond that say, was EGL graded, with a 30-60 day return policy, could I send it to GIA and get it graded by them for the fee that they charge? Would it then come with a GIA certification and could I then say it was a GIA certified diamond, granted of course, that I was happy with the report and keep the diamond? Basically it would be to compare how EGL graded it against how GIA graded it. The information about how different the grading can be got me thinking that I might be able to find a good diamond that isn't GIA graded, but still a really good diamond.


I am quickly learning that there is far more the diamond buying than just the 4c's, and I have found that many jewelers (especially those in the mall) sell non-certified diamonds. Does this mean that they have someone in their company look at, and grade, it? Could you possibly get a diamond they claim to be I / I1, and in reality you're buying a K/L I2/I3? I mean, if it doesn't come with some sort of certification, how do you know what you are truly getting? Or is there some sort of code you have to stick to? Meaning, could I (not that I would) sell a J/K I3 as an H SI-2? Does there have to be some backing to my claim? Or is it all kind of vague?


I am certainly not going to buy a non-certified diamond, and am glad that I didn't buy the other one yet. Your suggestion about a CZ seems certainly reasonable, and the information provided about pave and halo settings is very much appreciated. I do like the idea of buying absolutely conflict free diamonds, but I am not sure if the mark-up is worth it. Thank you also for that link to the GIA website. There is certainly a lot more to buying a diamond than I had thought.


One last thing, and correct me if I am wrong, are you saying that I should only buy GIA certified diamonds because they are more "accurate". Accurate is probably not the correct term, but I am not exactly sure how to say what I mean. Basically I guess, I mean if you buy GIA certified diamonds, you know that the diamond is really going to be a D FL 1 carat, ideal cut diamond. (Haha, no, I don't plan on spending 50k on a diamond, but just for a good laugh I used it as my example!)

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Surely she is aware of your budget limitations. If not, you have bigger issues than diamonds. That said, the compromise between a lower quality diamonds vs. a CZ with a better mounting is an entirely valid issue if a slightly awkward discussion.


GIA will grade pretty much anything someone will pay them grade but recently 60 days isn’t enough lag time for their service unless you pay extra for rush charges and overnight shipping. They don’t call their process ‘certification’ and actually object when others do as well but if the stone has been GIA graded it’s entirely fair to say that. That said, EGL graded stones when submitted to GIA rarely get the same grade and often the difference is dramatic. That’s probably why it was sent to EGL (or GSL) in the first place. If a dealer could have raised the price by $1000 by throwing $100 or so at GIA and waiting a few months, this would have been done long before you ever saw the ad. Yes, it’s possible to game the system but remember that you aren’t the only player and who you’re going against is probably a full time professional who is an expert in his own right, has the stone in hand and makes this sort of decision on a daily basis. Possibly even dozens of times a day.


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To pick up on the couple of items that Neil has left open:


CZ: I think they are perceived as trashy largely because of the quality of the jewellery in which they are typically set, and because of the implausible sizes in which they are often worn. You can always buy one for $3 including shipping from eBay, and see what you think... http://www.ebay.com/itm/Loose-Round-5-5-mm-CZ-Cubic-Zirconia-AAAAA-Quality-/110610582713?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item19c0e78cb9#ht_3052wt_912


Reports/Descriptions: Unfortunately, diamond grading is regarded as "expressing an opinion", and there is no regulation as to what colour/clarity one may call a diamond* or what qualifications are required to grade diamonds. This means that a dealer is free to call "E/VVS1" a diamond that GIA would call "N/SI2" - neither can be called "wrong" (legally) purely on the description. So yes, you could sell (what GIA would call) a K/I3 as an H/SI2 - if you found anybody ready to take your word for it. Most private sellers cannot, and must have some independent report showing at least size, colour and clarity. Many dealers can find buyers that will trust them, and sell without a report or with an unreliable one. Smart buyers will only (in my opinion) buy from an unknown seller if the seller can provide a report from an independent, trusted third party - not just their word or a report from a lab known to be less than reliable.


* Even though there is for example an FTC guideline for not using colour names (e.g. yellow, blue, pink) improperly in diamonds, there is no such guideline (AFAIK) regarding colour grades.


Halo settings: it is true that the halo will protect the centre stone. It is also true that the melée set in the halo is exposed, and if the setting work is not first quality, it will often come loose. Of course, the more pavé there is, the more chances of losing a stone, and the shank sizing issue you mention does not make things better.


I have seen the difference in return rates because of lost/missing stones between cheaper pavé settings (halo and/or shank) and better quality ones, and it is considerable; if you are going to use a pavé setting in an engagement ring, I would strongly recommend that you choose a top quality one.

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Thank you for also replying to my topic and answering some of my questions. Yes, she is aware of my financial situation, and certainly understands my budget (for all things), but as far as I know, she is till aware that I am seriously looking at rings, and I've used her friends and her family to "spy" on what she likes. I was talking to a friend of mine and asked him his oppinion, and to ask his wife if she would be okay with a CZ. He told me that his wife actually chose some sort of diamond coated CZ instead of a real diamond. While, I don't think I will be doing that, it has certainly brightened my outlook on giving her a CZ "place holder".


And as far as my question regarding the grading, it was mainly out of curiosity and to obtain a better understanding of how grading (I will try to avoid certification as the term) actually worked. For example, if EGL owned the grading rights to the stone, or if any lab could grade it. I figured that, if something like this were an option, there would be people very experienced playing the "game" and my likelyhood of obtaining a valuable gem for a bargin would be slim to none. Personally, from reading that differences in diamonds can be difficult to spot (such as the case explained above), I think I will use this information to help buy a decent diamond in the future, but perhaps not only pay attention to the grading, but to what I think of the diamond. If it is well cut (I think I will try for Excellent or better when the time comes) and has no visible flaws to the naked eye, and in daylight looks near colourless I will be happy. Not sure if that is a good game plan, but if someone is selling a diamond they claim to be G SI1 <carat> Excellent cut, but looking at the measurements, colour, and clarity prove to not be up to what I want, say it looks yellowish and has visible inclusions, then I will pass. I feel slightly better equipped to make a diamond purchase in the future.




I would agree, I looked up pictures of CZ rings, and some of them are impossibly large, and completely unbelievable. However, the small CZ you linked to me would probably be taken as the real deal at a glance, since it is of believable size, and I am looking forward to being able to see it in person. Now, is this the one you would recommend placing into the setting (whichever one I end up with) or would this purely be for educational purposes. $3.00 isn't much to pay, so I wouldn't mind either way, just curious.


I must express my shock over the grading of diamonds, but I can certainly see how this is a "matter of oppinion" and would be hard to create a legal guideline. Basically then, all diamonds are graded on the same scale (D-Z) (F-13) etc. but to the standard they are graded can vary greatly depending on the lab grading it? Certainly makes me re-evaluate my standing on diamonds, and like I mentioned to Neil, I believe now I will base my oppinion on the diamond less on what it is graded (unless it is graded by a well known lab like GIA) and more on my oppinion. While I am far from an expert, I believe the diamond is a better "speaker" of its grading, not just a peice of paper. Interesting fact about coloured diamonds though, but I can see how you can't say a fancy yellow diamond is a colourless diamond or a pink diamond.


From you experience, who would you consider to be a top quality creater of halo settings? Would James Allen, Zales, or the like be considered worth it? Or should I buy a setting from a more expensive place? If I go with halo, I am going to go with a plain band and a well crafted setting, that way there will be no issue with the pave setting on the band during resizing. I know you said, while talking about Zales, that the image can look good, but it actually be cheap. Was this in regards to Zales' product or just places in general? Or did you mean like department stores such as Walmart? I guess I always figured Zales, Kay's, and the likes to be of good craftsmenship, though inflated in price. Is this another misconception?


I would like to say thank you again for taking time to read and reply to my questions. I feel that I've learned far more talking with you (and Neil now too) than I had in all my time researching online. It is nice to have the oppinions of professionals.

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I think Davide's outfit, www.diamondsbylauren.com sells mountings like you're discussing. He's too polite to point that out but it definitely deserves a look. I don't know if they'll set a cz or not but I'm sure they'll be happy to discuss it. In your shopping, check the warranties.


It's worth noting that CZ doesn't wear quite as well as diamonds and you should plan on replacing it every year or 3, especially if it's on a ring that's to be worn daily and she has a fairly typical lifestyle. The 'diamond coated' stones don't really help this and they drive the price way up. I don't recommend them as being worth the premium. Replacing a few times in a decade if needed isn't that difficult or expensive.

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Yes, I've been admiring Davide's website, and actually wish I had more to spend because I found a wonderful looking ring (with the diamond) that I think would be perfect, and I really like the fact that you're able to see videos on the rings - not just a CAD rendering of what the ring "looks" like. Unfortunately though, while wonderful selection, the halo mounts would be a little too out of budget at the moment. However, they do have an awfully nice cathedrial semi-mount, which may be worth looking into if my girlfriend seems to be okay with a more "classic" look.


In your oppinion, if I did go with this http://rockdiamond.com/index.php/jewelry/semi-mount--cathedral-style-14kt-gold-classic-solitaire-setting do you think it would fall into the trashy range if I got her a full 1ct CZ stone? It isn't unbelievable that I could get her that, and in all practicality I can get a real 1ct, but at this moment in time it is neither a wise financial move nor a wise desicion, due to the fact that I still have much to learn about diamonds. I am however, going to promote Davide's site to my friends. They seem to have some very reasonably priced (especially compared to mall retailers) rings, and lovely at that. My thinking behind getting that setting I linked you, would be that I assume it is of good quality (I've yet to be led to believe otherwise by either of you) and that when it comes time to put a real stone into it, I can be fairly certain that it will last the test of time. I also like how friendly they make their site. Makes me feel comfortable about possibly shopping there.


As for the CZ, yes, I'd read that CZ scratch more, and dull more, but that, if not abused, can last a while. Though at the prices I am finding, I might just order 4 or so, to have them on hand when and if I need to replace them. Also, I looked into getting a diamond coated CZ just a while ago, and I have to say, the hype is pretty wonderful, but in the terms I am thinking, I don't feel it is worth the money, regardless of how "wonderful" many of their buyers claim it to be. Perhaps perfect for other people, but it is not something I would consider. Why replace a $400-$600 cz (or even buy one) if I have the option of upgrading from a $5 CZ?


I would just like to add, this forum, well especially you and Davide, have really given me a possitive experience, and you and he are offering up extremely valuable ideas and oppinons. Thank you. And thank you for not making me feel horrible about my budget, and instead offering suggestions for more affordable and sensable alternatives.



To add to my comment about being able to by a 1ct real diamond I mean like a 1ct that isn't that great, but still one carat. For fun, I actually did a search on your diamond finder for 1cts and found that I could buy a 1ct for under $1000.

Edited by James Harper
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CZ: no, I wasn't recommending specifically that CZ, though I think it will be absolutely fine; it happened to be the only 5.5 mm round advertised on eBay, and you seemed to be looking for a 5.5 mm round, I assume because that's the size of the setting. My recommendation would be to get a Swarovski/Signity CZ. They are not hard to find, and should still cost less than $10 online (or $20 if you buy it through a jeweller), but there were no 5.5 mm Signity advertised on eBay.


A "1 carat" (6.5 mm) stone is definitely not trashy, particularly in a plain setting. Here is a Signity one for $9.75 incl. shipping http://www.ebay.com/itm/ROUND-Cut-Cubic-Zirconia-CZ-6-5mm-Loose-AA-1-Piece-Swarovski-1-carat-Size-NEW-/120813467936?pt=Loose_Cubic_Zirconia&hash=item1c210b3920#ht_1124wt_1163


Grading: no-lab has "grading rights". Labs survive (and prosper) by selling grading services, and in fact it could be argued that it is in their interest not to require exclusivity: this way, the dealer can get the same stone graded by two or more labs and use the report that gives him (her) the best chances of making a high return. This game is played a lot more frequently than you think, and the chances of you finding a "bargain" are very very slim. Bear in mind that 1) the differences can be difficult to detect even in optimal conditions, but they are undoubtedly there, and they can mean 10, 20, 50 or 100% "fair price" differentials, and 2) you are pitting yourself against people that do this for a living, have done it for decades and have seen thousands and thousands of diamonds.


You should definitely buy the diamond, not the paper. And it's absolutely fine to prefer the J/SI2 to the G/VS1. The paper however is there - or should be - to protect you financially; if you choose an unreliable grading lab, it cannot protect you.


Colour: Sorry, I didn't explain myself clearly. For a while, diamond dealers would sell some top colour white diamonds as "blue white" (and in fact they were probably colourless but blue fluorescent stones). The FTC saw this as an abuse of the term "blue", and forbade it, together with any reference to colours that aren't "really" there. This makes more sense when you think that a blue (or a pink) can easily cost 10x the best D/IF...


Setting: I think this is the best halo setting in the world, bar none. http://rockdiamond.com/index.php/jewelry/semi-mount-ring-custom-made-halo-ring-with-single-or-full-cut-diamond-melee-so3956 I'm saying this not because I sell it, but because my wife has a ring made by the same craftsman (it's my avatar image), and I know how it's made. In general, one does get what one pays for. I'm also very aware that you have other priorities at the moment. ;)


Finally, a big thanks to Neil (and to you, James) for the endorsement.

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  • 1 year later...

I would question something that was stated in an earlier post.  It was stated that "GSL (and EGL) can grade a stone one, two or even SIX grades apart from what GIA would grade it"?!?!?!?


I can't speak about the other organization, however, GSL is the grading organization recognized and partially helped organized by the GAA (Gemological Association of Australia).  It was formed to have a recognized grading organization for Australian diamonds and is now used quite a bit in Canada.  They grade diamonds very accurately!!!  I know, as I have a GSL diamond, which I sent to GIA, just to make sure it was properly graded...it was!


A second statement that was made was also inaccurate and very misleading.  The statement was something to the effect of "claiming that GIA graded diamonds are more expensive is bull sh*t...GIA charges x amount for grading.".  It is true that having GIA grade your diamond is very inexpensive, but that's not the issue.  ONCE a diamond has already been graded by GIA, there IS a significant premium placed on the stone.  My advice would be to find a very experienced and trusted jeweler to "grade" your diamond, THEN send it to GIA for grading.  You do take the risk of buying a diamond less valuable than thought, unless the jeweler will offer, in writing, the ability to return the diamond if it is graded lower than the grading provided by the jeweler.

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1) My experience with EGL (and GSL - Canada) - limited as it may be - indicates that 6 grades are a real possibility. Just like "spot on" is a real possibility. That is the fundamental problem, not soft grading but inconsistent grading.


I have no experience with the Australian organisation going by the name GSL, but the fact that you have one stone graded correctly is no proof of anything in terms of consistency.


2) The claim that  "GIA diamonds are expensive because GIA is" is incorrect and misleading. Correcting it is not.


The diamond is what it is; paper by GIA (or anyone else) does NOT change its value. People buying and selling diamonds for a living know how to grade them, or they don't survive in the business. If there is uncertainty (e.g. "is this a D or an E?"), then a GIA report (but not an EGL or GSL one, I assure you) may settle the issue, but the diamond would have already traded as a "high E" in any case.

Edited by davidelevi
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I would question something that was stated in an earlier post.  It was stated that "GSL (and EGL) can grade a stone one, two or even SIX grades apart from what GIA would grade it"?!?!?!?


I can't speak about the other organization, however, GSL is the grading organization recognized and partially helped organized by the GAA (Gemological Association of Australia).  It was formed to have a recognized grading organization for Australian diamonds and is now used quite a bit in Canada.  They grade diamonds very accurately!!!  I know, as I have a GSL diamond, which I sent to GIA, just to make sure it was properly graded...it was!


A second statement that was made was also inaccurate and very misleading.  The statement was something to the effect of "claiming that GIA graded diamonds are more expensive is bull sh*t...GIA charges x amount for grading.".  It is true that having GIA grade your diamond is very inexpensive, but that's not the issue.  ONCE a diamond has already been graded by GIA, there IS a significant premium placed on the stone.  My advice would be to find a very experienced and trusted jeweler to "grade" your diamond, THEN send it to GIA for grading.  You do take the risk of buying a diamond less valuable than thought, unless the jeweler will offer, in writing, the ability to return the diamond if it is graded lower than the grading provided by the jeweler.


I’m solidly with Davide and there is a fair amount of statistical evidence to support his position.  Here's a few facts that seem to be beyond dispute.


#1 GIA prices are public and, in most cases, nominal.  Most of the other labs aren't quite so public but given the fact that these other folks aren’t free, the difference is in the dozens of dollars on a product that costs thousands or even tens of thousands.  Lab fees aren’t the issue and apparently everyone agrees with this.   I would add that GIA is a bit slow, and they are a pain to get along with, but these are tiny issues as well.  Diamonds aren’t perishable and taking a month to do a job that everyone else will do in a week is irritating but it simply doesn’t drive the market pricing.


#2 GIA branded stones command substantially more in the marketplace than most other brands for similarly described goods.  Again, this seems undisputed but it’s easy enough to observe with a few minutes looking through any database (check out the diamond finder utility at the top of the page if you haven’t already).  There is no difference in the rock, any lab will grade any stone sent to them.   Labs do not manufacture stones, they don’t cut them, they don’t even sell them.  They issue paperwork and the difference is in that paperwork.  Period.  See above comment that the cost of paperwork is roughly the same no matter where they get it. 


#3 If a client is unhappy with the results they are welcome to send it somewhere else and see if they’re happier.  It happens regularly.  That is to say, if a stone goes to EGL, and the client thinks they would like it better with GIA paperwork, or visa versa, they can and will resubmit it elsewhere without the slightest trace that this conversion has been done.   Every cutting house has an account at every lab in the world.  Every set of hands the stone passes through can do this.


Nearly every stone submitted to the major labs is coming from one of the big cutting houses.  We’re talking 90%+ of the workflow.  None of the above is secret to ANY cutter anywhere in the world.  The lab is chosen strategically with the intention of maximizing profit.  Wouldn’t you?  Anything less would be foolish and, I assure you, these people are not fools.  They are wickedly competitive, they work on single digit margins and there are millions of dollars on the table.  All you need to do to see the difference a grade makes is to look at the numbers.  So what’s the strategy?  If everyone is so smart, why do multiple labs even exist?


Here's some opinions on that little tidbit. 


GIA is the most recognized brand in the world.  Stones with GIA paperwork sell quickly and for good prices.  They set the benchmark. 


EGL International and EGL-USA are big and very successful outfits.  They're fast, they're cheaper and they're very agreeable people to work with.  They use different grading standards and scales from GIA and often stones sent in will come back with ‘higher’ grades.  Sometimes a lot higher. The scales use similar to identical nomenclature so it’s very difficult to compare.   They also use different standards for cutting and for stones that you don’t WANT the GIA cut grade to be applied, they are often chosen for that reason.  GIA-fair is a commercial death sentence for a stone and neither EGL uses that cutting scale so the phrase never appears.   None of this is by accident.  Both EGL's are run by savvy business people who train their graders to do exactly what they want.  EGL and many other labs sell for a discount, but it’s discounted from a higher grade.  They also have more consumer resistance which makes them sell slower (many customers object to EGL branding, none ever object to GIA branding).  It takes a bit of math to decide which will command a higher price but the people making this decision are expert graders themselves and have plenty of computers to help.  It’s about the money.  Isn’t it always?


AGS is decently comparable to GIA in terms of grading standards and sells for about the same prices.  Their gig is that they have a near cultlike following because of their cut grading scale.  In particular, the AGS-0 cut grade sells quickly for their dealers and people will send stones to them in the hopes of getting that grade.  AGS-1 is a failure and will normally be resubmitted to GIA for 'excellent' paperwork or to some other lab for one of the other reasons presented.  They're actually pretty hard to find in the marketplace and AGS graded stones with below 2 are effectively non-existent in the market.  As with the above comments, it's not that the stones don't exist, they're just being sold with different paperwork.


HRD, NGCG, CGL etc. operate in specialized markets.  CGL is in Japan, NGCG is in China, HRD is in Belgium and so on.  For people selling into those markets, it makes sense to use those labs.  GSL, by the way, has a huge foothold in Canada.


IGI is a highly efficient and successful operation, especially in working with large volume dealers like Costco or Walmart.   This sort of dealer has some specialized requirements that aren’t offered by the other labs in terms of dealer support and they dominate this market.  For stones bound for this marketplace, that’s the lab.  IGI is the biggest volume grading company  in the world by the way.


GCAL, AGA, AGR (that’s me) and other boutique sorts of labs.   Unlike the above, nearly all of the work in boutique labs comes from the consumer, not the seller, and they are chosen because they want an opinion from their own expert.  The seller already said what they thought it was and the buyer is looking for lab services to refute or confirm what they’ve been told (or what’s been omitted). 

Edited by denverappraiser
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Does GSL stand for Gem Scientific Laboratory? 


I bought an engagment ring on Ebay 3 years ago and it was certified by Gem Scientific Laboratory Inc. out of New York. 


I am now looking to sell the ring and someone had stated they never heard of Gem Scientific Laboratory or GSL.  3 Years ago, I didn't think anything of it, because it looked legitimate, but now that I am trying to sell the ring, I am wondering if I was taken for over 7k 3 years ago.


Can someone please give me some insight on Gem Scientific Laboratory or tell me if this is the GSL that is being discussed? 


Thanks in advance.

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Three letter acronyms (TLAs) are easy to find and there are probably more than one lab that uses that combination but in EVERY case, the onus is on the lab to convince you that their opinions have merit.  Not all do, and the default answer is no.  If you don't trust your grader, hire one you do.  If you're buyer doesn't trust your supplied paperwork (and they shouldn't), THEY should hire one as a contingency requirement of the deal. 


It's entirely likely that you will find buyers who don't agree with the findings on your paperwork.  Your option is to ignore them and sell to someone else, drop your price to where they're satisfied, or get different paperwork that may show different results but that is more likely to be accepted. 

Edited by denverappraiser
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FWIW, it's unlikely that it's the same organisation. The Australian lab uses GSL as an abbreviation for "Gem Studies Laboratory", and the Canadian one is a moniker for "Gem Scan Laboratories".


(which incidentally, DLNOK, is another reason why your criticisms are out of place).

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  • 3 months later...

FWIW, it's unlikely that it's the same organisation. The Australian lab uses GSL as an abbreviation for "Gem Studies Laboratory", and the Canadian one is a moniker for "Gem Scan Laboratories".


(which incidentally, DLNOK, is another reason why your criticisms are out of place).

I stand corrected.  My diamonds were evaluated by Gem Scan Laboratory, in Canada.  As previously mentioned, their evaluation matched my independent GIA evaluation.  While it's true that an "N of 1" doesn't prove that their grading is consistent, it also doesn't prove that they are inconsistent.  Also, as someone else mentioned, they have a huge foothold in Canada, which would indicate (but not prove), that they are a reliable organization.  Just my 2 cents.


To the person trying to sell a diamond evaluated by Gem Scan Lab, just send it to GIA for an independent evaluation.  It won't cost you very much and will make it more marketable. 

Edited by DLNOK
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An n of 1 proves nothing either way, agreed. However, Neil and my company see GSL (Canada)-graded stones pretty much every day, and the inconsistency is there allright. Incidentally, the fact that they "get it right" every now and then, is part of the inconsistency; very rarely it even goes "the other way" with GSL being tougher than GIA by one grade or so.


You are also right that the fact that they are large proves nothing - IGI end EGL are the largest independent labs, and the reason why they are is not that they are reliable in grading: they are reliable in providing a service to cutters and wholesalers (while GIA can be a pain in that respect), but as a consumer their paper is worse than useless.

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