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The Importance Of Gia Certified Diamonds


Moti Israeli
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Buying diamonds online or from a local retailer shouldn't be taken lightly. They can be very expensive and you want to make sure you're getting your money's worth. This is where GIA certification comes in, both in online purchases and at jewelry stores.

 

What is GIA?

 

GIA is a non-profit organization called "Gemological Institute of America". It is an independent laboratory and is considered the largest, oldest, and most reputable one in the world. You may have heard about the "4 Cs" (carat weight, cut, color, and clarity), a diamond grading system developed by GIA and used globally today.

 

Diamonds are usually sent to third party laboratories, like GIA, to be fully evaluated. Once a diamond is evaluated, the GIA provides what is called "diamond certification" or "GIA certification". This certificate is uniquely numbered for one specific diamond and contains all of the characteristics of the diamond. This allows professionals and buyers to understand the quality and to get a better picture of its value.

 

Once a diamond is certified, it's GIA certification will accompany it whenever it is sold.

 

Why is GIA certification important?

 

When you purchase a diamond with GIA certification, you know exactly what you're buying. Once a diamond is sent to GIA, gemologists thoroughly inspect it under a microscope, providing you with information about its clarity, dimensions, and even polish, among other things. The certification, however, is not an appraisal, and does not provide you with information as to the market value of the diamond. If taken to an appraiser, the information provided by GIA will allow him/her to give you a current market value.

 

Even if you don't have the diamond appraised and are simply purchasing it from a jewelry, buying GIA certified diamonds will ensure that you know what you're getting, regardless of what the retailer says. This makes purchasing diamonds online much easier since you can't actually see the diamond. You'll also be able to rest assured that the lab that provided the certification, GIA, is reliable.

 

Where do I find GIA certified diamonds?

 

GIA certified diamonds can be found with most reputable retailers and wholesalers. Not all diamonds are certified, and among those that are, not all are certified by GIA. When purchasing in a store, it is best to simply as what kind of certification comes with the diamond. If you're purchasing from online diamond wholesalers or retailers, you'll usually find information on their website about the certification they provide.

 
Edited by Moti Israeli
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FWIW, GIA objects strenuously to use of the word 'certified' to describe their work product.  It's for good reason.  Consumers tend to assume from this word that it contains some sort of guaranteed grading and value when neither is the case.  It's also incorrect to describe their graduates (like me) as being certified by them.  They are a college and we are their graduates, nothing more.   I, of course, understand that it's a widely used term both within the trade and by the general public but in published pieces it really should be described as a grading report.  They 'certify' neither diamonds nor gemologists.  

Edited by denverappraiser
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Thank you Neil (?).

Yes, I'm a diamond wholesaler and manufacturer from Israel.

Have you ever visited here?

You have really nice forum, I did't find a lot like this before.

I guess you are an admin.

If it's fits, I'll be glad to post here my new articles also in the future.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello! So my big question is GIA certified diamond studs or not certified. Of course I would only think about this from a local trusted jeweler. Studs are 3.05 tw, G, SI3. I saw them loose in person and they are beautiful. Very white and bright. You don't see any inclusions to the naked eye. They are at a minimum $1000 less because of no certificate.

I do understand the importance of the certificate, but he's the second reputable jeweler in my area that suggests buying NON certified studs.

I really don't know the correct answer. You? Thank you!

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They are at a minimum $1000 less because of no certificate.

Let's see. GIA fees are $110-120 per stone. Shipping back and forth is $200 from anywhere in the world. I end up with less than $500, not a "minimum of $1000 less". And GIA does not use SI3 as a clarity grade. I think that, reputable or not, people haven't been advising with your interests in mind.

 

(GIA publishes its fee schedule here: http://www.gia.edu/gem-lab-service/diamond-grading- click on the "Fee Schedule" button)

Edited by davidelevi
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I didn't think SI3 existed either. That was clearly the jewelers opinion. He did make it very clear to me that because the stones are not certified, they would cost a lot less. I could not get a GIA certified stone G color, SI3( or whatever it is, though it looked very good to my eye) 3.05 TW for $14,000. We did compare them to other stones and these were really nice. I really appreciate your opinion and am obviously very hesitant to buy without the certificate. Thank you.

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Because the stones are not lab-graded (GIA isn't certifying anything or anyone, and they get quite stroppy when anyone suggests they do), they cost about $500 less for a pair. That's all there is to it, and frankly anyone asserting the contrary is in pure bad faith. You could not get equivalent GIA-graded stones at that price not because of the report - which has an insignificant cost, as demonstrated above - but because what you are getting for $14k is NOT a G/SI (pair of) stone(s). That's why...

 

Note that it doesn't mean that they are not nice, or even that they are overpriced (though chances are that they ARE overpriced); simply that you are not comparing apples with apples. G to H is a big deal (money-wise), but it's rather difficult to assess unless you have tools, equipment, training and practice to do so, and the same - in fact even more money at stake - goes for SI2 to I1.

Edited by davidelevi
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Play a bit with the diamond finder link at the top of the page.  It free, anonymous and a great place to get some price education.  Everything listed there is a bonified offer for sale.  Using standard industry practices, SI3 means the top end of I1.  In practice it regularly means I1 and occasionally means I2.
 

Here's the search results for 1.45-1.49/G//I1/GIA (3.05 total weight almost certainly means one stone slightly over 1.50 paired with one that's slightly under.  That's not a problem per se, that's just the way it's done).
 

http://www.diamondreview.com/diamonds/?sortOrder=carat&sortDesc=0&fShape=Rnd&fCaratLo=1.45&fCaratHi=1.49&fColorLo=G&fColorHi=G&fClarityLo=I1&fClarityHi=I1&fCutLo=&fCutHi=poor&fDepthLo=50.0&fDepthHi=80.0&fTableLo=40.0&fTableHi=80.0&fSymLo=&fSymHi=poor&fPolLo=&fPolHi=poor&fCulLo=&fCulHi=vlarge&fFlrLo=&fFlrHi=vstrong&fPriceLo=0&fPriceHi=1000000

 

And here's 1.50-1.55/G/I1/GIA

 

http://www.diamondreview.com/diamonds/?sortOrder=carat&sortDesc=0&fShape=Rnd&fCaratLo=1.51&fCaratHi=1.55&fColorLo=G&fColorHi=G&fClarityLo=I1&fClarityHi=I1&fCutLo=&fCutHi=poor&fDepthLo=50.0&fDepthHi=80.0&fTableLo=40.0&fTableHi=80.0&fSymLo=&fSymHi=poor&fPolLo=&fPolHi=poor&fCulLo=&fCulHi=vlarge&fFlrLo=&fFlrHi=vstrong&fPriceLo=0&fPriceHi=1000000&fLabGIA=1

 

We're assuming the jeweler is using correct.  If he disagrees by a grade or two it's a big deal.  Play with it a bit and see what happens if that really means H or even I.

 

Here's 1.50-1.55/I/I1/GIA for example.

 

http://www.diamondreview.com/diamonds/?sortOrder=price&sortDesc=0&fShape=Rnd&fCaratLo=1.51&fCaratHi=1.55&fColorLo=I&fColorHi=I&fClarityLo=I1&fClarityHi=I1&fCutLo=&fCutHi=poor&fDepthLo=50.0&fDepthHi=80.0&fTableLo=40.0&fTableHi=80.0&fSymLo=&fSymHi=poor&fPolLo=&fPolHi=poor&fCulLo=&fCulHi=vlarge&fFlrLo=&fFlrHi=vstrong&fPriceLo=0&fPriceHi=1000000&fLabGIA=1

That's the reason for the lab grading, and that's the reason for being picky about which lab.

Edited by denverappraiser
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Here's where you land at 1.50-1.55/G/SI2/GIA, which is the carrot being dangled.
 

http://www.diamondreview.com/diamonds/?sortOrder=price&sortDesc=0&fShape=Rnd&fCaratLo=1.50&fCaratHi=1.55&fColorLo=G&fColorHi=G&fClarityLo=SI2&fClarityHi=SI2&fCutLo=&fCutHi=poor&fDepthLo=50.0&fDepthHi=80.0&fTableLo=40.0&fTableHi=80.0&fSymLo=&fSymHi=poor&fPolLo=&fPolHi=poor&fCulLo=&fCulHi=vlarge&fFlrLo=&fFlrHi=vstrong&fPriceLo=0&fPriceHi=1000000&fLabGIA=1

 

That's not a premium of $1000 on a pair.  Assuming the cut is at least decent, it's on the order of $2000 PER STONE that the jeweler, or more likely their supplier, could get that if they just ponied up $110 in lab fees.  It's not like they don't know this.  We're talking about full time professional diamond dealers who make this call multiple times a day.  They make a living doing it.  They even get unlimited do-overs.  If they send it to the lab and it doesn't come back the way they want they can STILL sell it undocumented and call it SI3 or they can still choose a different lab if they want.  All that's lost is $110.

Edited by denverappraiser
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Keeping in mind these are studs, you are likely to get away with lower clarity (and colour?) than for a ring. I would still want a super cut (even though that's something you didn't mention in respect of the stones we discussed), because that's where the beauty and sparkle are going to come from.

 

Realistically, assuming a budget around $15,000 I think you may need to trade off size (1.30-1.40?) with some visible tint (J-K?) - or be very lucky (aka work quite hard at finding the right stones) with clarity. If the latter, patience is going to be key.

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How do you feel about Blue Nile? At first I thought it was great! The prices were the best around. Then I learned that the diamonds you order from them are drop shipped from various stores all over. How can you trust that? Though they seem to give a detailed description, who's to say that that particular store is accurate in what they are writing?  

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Blue Nile get their stones from wholesalers or manufacturers, not from other (retail) stores, and this is the same way in which most if not all diamond retailers get their stones; BN simply decreases their cost of holding inventory and passes on some of the savings to consumers by asking the wholesaler to drop-ship directly to the consumer.

 

As far as I know, all stones retailed by BN must be GIA or AGS-graded (BN policy), which means you have some reassurance that the stone is fairly described since the grading comes from a third party and the third party is well regarded as to reliability and consistency.

 

Whether this results necessarily in the "best prices" is a different question; there are several vendors that are significantly more price aggressive than BN - even on loose stones - and use the same drop-shipping method.

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I wouldn't buy those particular stones, but I wouldn't write off the jeweler yet either.  Tell him your concerns.  Tell him you insist on GIA or AGS grading, and tell him why.  Tell him you're shopping him against other sellers, including internet sellers.  Honesty is an amazingly good shopping strategy.  He may not want to play but he can get most of the stones you're seeing online and he'll get them from the same suppliers.  He can certainly get comparable goods.  He CAN compete on price but may or may not want to do so because of the more expensive business model.  That's his call.  That said, there are advantages to buying from a local source for reasons that you've identified and the issue is deciding what that advantage is worth to you.  From there it's a matter of haggling over the price. 

 

BN is a credible enough vendor but they have lots of competitors who are happy to compete with them.  Davide (who posted above) is too polite to say it but he's an example of such a vendor.  There's a link to his store at the foot of every one of his posts.

 

How do you know you're getting what you expect when you buy from a far away seller?  First is the above mentioned lab grading.  Second is the return policy.  Don't even consider a seller who won't allow you to look at it, take it to YOUR OWN appraiser, show it to your friends or even competitive jewelers and generally think about it for a while.  If you have to send it back, so be it.  All you're out is a bit of time and maybe some shipping.  Lastly, use a credit card.  Don't do the 'cash discount' thing unless you already have a relationship with the seller.  FWIW, these are exactly the same rules I suggest with a local seller as well. 

 

Edited by denverappraiser
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