There has long been a debate in the diamond industry about the true value of diamond reports, or grading certificates, as they are popularly but not really accurately referred to. Are they absolutely essential to verify the real quality of a diamond, and, even if so, should they be considered more of a marketing tool rather than a scientific diagnosis?
It may appear to some as a cynical discussion, but there are grounds on which diamond report doubters base their arguments. For one, although there was for the first time a diamond trading standard published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in 2021, there still is no universally agreed-to authority that qualifies, or for that matter disqualified, anybody from setting up shop and calling itself a diamond grading lab. Literally anyone can do it, and there is no oversight committee to pass judgement.
Second, all diamond reports are not equal, with certain considered more appropriate, despite the relatively high price of their service, especially if you are trying to sell a high-quality diamond at a suitably high price. Interestingly, those more exclusive reports are generally produced by labs with unquestioned reputations, meaning that stricter is regarded as better, especially where well informed consumers are involved.
Third, diamond grading reports traditionally have been produced by human gemologists, where their degree of reliability and repeatability depends on the quality and depth of their training, their wealth of experience, and the fastidiousness of the grading laboratory standards that are enforced by institution for which they work. However, the development of sophisticated automated grading technologies, where the possibility of human error is eliminated, raises the question whether the traditional grading report is becoming obsolete. If one is able to place a diamond into a finely calibrated measuring system, and get back accurate and consistent 4Cs readings every time, has the usefulness of the traditional grading report run its course?
GIA’s paperless Diamond Dossier.
DECIDING TO GO PAPERLESS
Those who contend that a grading report is primarily a sales tool for polished diamonds may point to a recent commotion involving the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), which operates what many will contend is the laboratories producing the most respected and exclusive reports delivered into the market.
In 2022, GIA announced that, starting in January 2023, it would begin issuing only digital grading reports, starting with its most popular product, the Diamond Dossier.
With no paper versions available, GIA reports would now be made available via the organization’s app — conveniently made available for both Android and iOS devices.
GIA said that by 2025 all reports reports would be digital, and offered an educational program for its clients to help ensure a smooth transition to a non-paper environment.
THEN GIA BACKTRACKS
Environmentally responsible programs should be universally applauded, and that presumably is what GIA expected when it announced its new initiative, but the industry backlash was fast and furious.
So much so that GIA backtracked. “We appreciate your candid and constructive feedback,” Tom Moses, GIA executive vice president and chief laboratory and research officer, wrote in a April 6 letter to clients, as reported by JCK. “After much consideration, we have decided to return to printed GIA Diamond Dossier reports beginning April 9.”
Moses added that all diamonds submitted to GIA on or after April 9 will be returned with a printed Diamond Dossier –the same type of report as those issued before the paperless introduction in January.
The imminent elimination of the printed GIA Diamond Dossier was so controversial that it found its way onto the agenda of the World Diamond Congress, which took place in Israel at the end of March.
Many bourse presidents and delegates expressed their criticism of the move reports, citing security issues and customers’ preference for written reports. It was decided that the WFDB would present this position to the GIA.
After much consideration, we have decided to return to printed GIA Diamond Dossier reports beginning April 9,” stated GIA’s Tom Moses in letter to clients.
Thus, when GIA announced that it had relented, World Federation of Diamond Bourses President Yoram Dvash signaled the organization’s approval. I had a long conversation with Tom Moses the day after the congress and was happy to discover that he understood the challenges the industry has with the digital cert,” he stated. “We are very pleased that the GIA was sensitive to our needs and thank them for their cooperation and support.”