Buying diamond jewelry is a significant investment and one which is important to get right. In the same way that you wouldn’t buy a house without the assurance of a survey, you shouldn’t buy diamonds without independent verification that what you are buying is worth your outlay. There’s nothing wrong in buying diamond simulants or diamonds that include blemishes or are not graded highly – that comes down to personal choice – but it is vital that whatever you buy, you do it with confidence in what you are getting.
Why are GIA diamonds sought after?
The GIA (Gemological Institute of America) was formed in 1931 with the sole purpose of establishing and maintaining honesty and integrity within the global diamond market. GIA diamonds are sought after because they’re guaranteed by the grading process. They do cost slightly more, not because they are necessarily more valuable than other diamonds, but because they come with peace of mind that they have undergone rigorous assessment and grading. Buying diamonds that are not GIA graded may well be cheaper, but you take a gamble that what you’re buying is not what you’re told it is.
A GIA grading report is far more than just a description or review of the stone – it is essentially a certificate of authenticity. It’s important to note the GIA does not produce or sell diamonds so has no financial interest in how each stone is graded. It’s a research and educational facility concerned with grading a diamond according to quality and composition, not ‘talking up’ or trying to ‘sell’ it. The report is based in fact, not opinion.
A GIA report is an internationally recognised grade for each stone which has been used by major players in the global diamond and jewelry industry for more than 50 years. That’s why GIA diamonds are sought after - because they create buyer-confidence. So, the biggest benefit of buying GIA diamonds is that you know exactly what you’re getting because it’s been independently verified. And not just by a single gemmologist. There are hundreds of diamond experts at GIA so each stone passes numerous pairs of eyes before being given its official grading. So, if you’re in the market for genuine diamonds, buy GIA diamonds safe in the knowledge you know exactly what you’re getting for your money.
Inclusions and clarity
Whether formed from deep within the earth’s crust or under laboratory conditions, diamonds are created under extreme heat and pressure. This is a completely natural process and results in each diamond being unique and individual. They’re like people – stunning, but with imperfections. So, no two diamonds are the same. Each has its own unique blemishes.
Diamond clarity is a measure of these imperfections. In very rare cases, diamonds are formed with almost no imperfections and are valued accordingly. But the vast majority of diamonds contain blemishes or inclusions which are visible to a greater or lesser degree. Quite how obvious they are will be used to determine the clarity of the stone.
The GIA International Diamond Grading System is used to assign a clarity grade to each diamond which is between ‘flawless’ (FL) and ‘included’ (I3).
The GIA Clarity Scale is made up of 11 grades, with most diamonds falling into the VS (very slightly included) or SI (slightly included) categories.
A diamond’s clarity grading is based on the size, position, nature, color and quantity of the clarity characteristics when viewed under 10x magnification:
Flawless (FL) - No inclusions or blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10× magnification
Internally Flawless (IF) - No inclusions and only blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10× magnification
Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2) - Inclusions are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10× magnification
Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2) - Inclusions are minor and range from difficult to somewhat easy for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification
Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2) - Inclusions are noticeable to a skilled grader under 10x magnification
Included (I1, I2, and I3) - Inclusions are obvious under 10× magnification and may affect transparency and brilliance
Whether you opt for GIA diamonds or not is a personal choice. There are plenty of options for diamond jewelry out there and you can get some stunning pieces which are not GIA certified. The key is to know what you’re looking for and what you’re buying. Sadly, there are still some unscrupulous diamond sellers around who will look to exploit buyers’ lack of knowledge. But once you know the difference between those diamonds which are GIA certified and those which are not, you can take control of the transaction and shop safely.
If you’re still not 100% sure about the difference between the different diamonds available to buy, feel free to give us a call and discuss your options.