When you buy a piece of diamond jewelry, you’re investing in something that’s meant to stand the test of time; and since there’s nothing inexpensive about a purchase like this, you absolutely need to be sure you’re getting the real deal. That’s why, obtaining certification for your diamond is of the utmost importance, as it offers legitimate details about your stone, like its carat weight, clarity, cut, and color.
While there are many third-party laboratories that can offer certification, GIA (which stands for Gemological Institute of America) is considered one of the most trusted reports available today. What’s more, when you buy a diamond with a GIA grading report, you can rest easy knowing that you’re getting a stone that has been rigorously tested in an impartial manner. Meaning, you’ll be able to confirm whether or not you’re paying the right price for your precious piece.
It’s safe to say then that understanding the nuances of a GIA diamond report is very important—especially if you’re planning to buy an engagement ring—which is why we spoke to an expert in the industry to find out everything there is to know. Read on to learn more.
What Is a GIA Diamond?
A GIA diamond is the name used to describe diamonds that have been graded by the Gemological Institute of America, an independent, nonprofit organization that was established in 1931. Jennifer Roane, GIA-certified jeweler and co-founder of LeMel, specifically points out that “A GIA diamond is a [stone] that has been graded using the international standards of diamond grading by the GIA.” Simply put, these diamonds are not a specific type of stone but are diamonds that come with a personal report that highlights their significant details. “The GIA is known for having the highest standards in diamond grading,” Roane adds.
Additionally, given that the GIA does not mine, buy, sell, or trade diamonds commercially, but only appraises them, the grading is completely objective. A GIA report allows you to get an unbiased look at the quality and overall value of your stone so that you’re better informed as a consumer. Of course, we’re not saying that you shouldn’t trust jewelers, but with a purchase this big, having a GIA report in hand is a smart way to secure your investment.
Lastly, while the term “GIA certified” is thrown around a lot, it’s not entirely accurate, as the GIA doesn’t certify diamonds, it grades them. “GIA certified” is just a way for a jeweler to sum up the grading and reporting process.
What Are the Key Components of a GIA Report?
You can (and should!) request a GIA report if you’re interested in a GIA stone. “A GIA report shows all the characteristics of a diamond from the 4Cs (carat weight, color, clarity, cut) and the measurements to other details of the diamond,” Roane says. “It is a road map for the ins and outs of the diamond.”
Once you understand the components of a report, reading one is pretty straightforward and easy. And to help you navigate this process, we broke down a few details, as highlighted below.
First things first, it’s important to understand that a diamond’s carat refers to its weight, and not its size as is often assumed. It’s also essential to note that figuring out the weight of a diamond is a precise process that can impact the cost of a stone, and this can only be determined if conducted by a legitimate diamond professional. Nonetheless, a diamond’s carat weight doesn’t solely determine its price, and other factors, such as the cut, clarity, and color, can also make a difference.
The GIA uses a color-grading scale that begins with the letter D (colorless) and goes up to the letter Z (yellow-brown). Thus, if you’re looking for a high-quality stone, you want to ensure your diamond is a D or as close to a D as possible. That’s because the more colorless your diamond is, the more rare and expensive it will be.
Since diamonds are created in the Earth, they usually have internal marks called inclusions, and external marks are called blemishes. So when determining a diamond’s clarity, a GIA report will note the number of inclusions and blemishes seen on that stone, while also highlighting the size, nature, position, color, and quantity of the internal and external marks. Specifically, a GIA report’s clarity scale ranges from flawless (FL) to I3 (obvious inclusions), and “It will also include a diagram of the stone that shows its inclusions,” Roane points out.
The cut of a diamond refers to the sparkle and brilliance of a stone, and when grading these specific details, a GIA report will rate a diamond from Excellent to Poor. This assessment is based on a diamond’s brightness, fire, scintillation, weight, ratio, durability, polish, and symmetry.
How to Find a GIA Diamond
The easiest way to find a GIA diamond is to ask (it’s that simple!). You can go into any jewelry store or speak to a jeweler and ask if they sell GIA diamonds. Additionally, stones that have been evaluated by the GIA will be inscribed with a GIA report number, which is permanently stored in their database and easily accessible via their Report Check.
Pros and Cons of GIA Diamonds
A GIA diamond does not automatically mean that a stone is a better option than others. It simply indicates that the diamond has been thoroughly vetted by the GIA and comes with a report of important information. The biggest advantage of buying a GIA diamond, though, is that it allows you to know exactly what you’re purchasing.
“Since GIA diamonds are graded in a lab with an unbiased opinion using the industry’s highest standards, you can be confident that what you’re buying is what you are getting,” Roane says. “You will have proof of what you are buying and are not just going off the word of the salesperson.” The best part? It can also help you determine if you’re overpaying for a stone.
Another advantage? “A GIA report can be very helpful when shopping because you can shop for stones with different combinations of characteristics to stay within your budget, but still get the perfect stone,” Roane says. “For example, when shopping for a round diamond, you can drop the clarity down to an SI to save more budget for size. But if you are shopping for an emerald cut, you would need to keep the clarity in the VS or above range.”
Truth be told, it’s hard to find any cons of a GIA diamond, but one small disadvantage of this stone is that the price might be slightly higher than its counterparts. “When a stone is graded by GIA, it will have a higher value in the market,” Roane points out. “The standards for a GIA stone are much stricter than that of an EGL or uncertified stone, and therefore come with a premium.” That said, if you’re committed to buying a high-quality engagement ring or to knowing exactly what you’re purchasing, it’s worth the extra money.