GIA, or the Gemological Institute of America is a nonprofit organization dedicated to research and education in the field of gemology and jewelry manufacturing. GIA’s mission is to protect both buyers and sellers of gemstones by setting and maintaining the standards used to evaluate gemstone quality. The institute carries out its mission through constant research, developing gem identification, diamond grading services and by offering a variety of educational programs and seminars.
In 1953 the GIA developed its International Diamond Grading System called the Four C’s (Cut, Clarity, Color, and Carat Weight) as a standard in which to objectively compare and evaluate the quality of a diamond.
Today, the institute is headquartered in Carlsbad, California and operates out of 13 countries, with 11 campuses, 9 laboratories and 4 research centers worldwide.
The history of GIA begins in the 1920s with a man named Robert M. Shipley. Shipley, a successful jeweler, began to realize the unfortunate state of the gem and jewelry industry and he believed the greatest improvements would come through gem and jewelry education. He took it upon himself to bring change to the jewelry trade, and re-instill public trust.
Shipley established the first GIA laboratory in Los Angeles in 1931. Gemologists could become educated, certified and the industry was transformed with the legitimization of gemology as a recognized scientific field of study. Almost a century later, the list of accomplishments and innovations is too long to list. So here are just a handful of contributions GIA made to the jewelry industry.
-The 4 C’s of diamond grading standardized the way diamonds are graded around the world in 1934.
– GIA created the diamond grading report, which is accepted internationally by the jewelry industry to be both fair and accurate in 1955.
– GIA creates more legitimacy and accountability by developing a way identify diamonds that have been color enhanced by radiation in 1956. And once again in 1999 GIA discovered a way to detect diamonds that had been decolorized by the High Pressure, High Temperature (HPHT) treatment.
– In 2003 GIA identified a way to identify natural vs. synthetic sapphires, protecting all from misrepresented gemstones.
– GIA created an in-depth step by step system for evaluating and assigning a cut grade for round brilliant diamonds that fall in the D-to-Z color range in 2005
– After a significant influx of man made diamonds GIA introduced techniques to identify unnatural diamond and also created the Synthetic Diamond Grading Report in 2007
– GIA introduces a system called Diamond Check to expand on the accuracy in differentiating between natural, treated, or synthetic diamonds in 2014
Today, GIA provides a variety of gem grading and identification reports. The labs most popular service, diamond grading, provides two types of grading reports. The full report and the diamond dossier both detail a number of measurements including carat weight, proportions, and symmetry. The main difference between the full report and the dossier is a full report includes a diagram (or the diamond plot) that shows where and what types of clarity characteristics (also known as inclusions) a specific diamond contains and illustrates their locations and size in relation to the stones size.
At Diamonds Forever in San Diego, we are all GIA trained professionals and we have had the privilege of visiting the Carlsbad GIA campus/laboratory and we would recommend that you take a tour and see what all the fuss is all about!