GIA v EGL certs

With respect to the GIA v EGL cert issue:

GIA (Gemological Institute of America), a non-profit educational institution, invented a diamond grading scale in the 1950s. This scale describes diamond quality in terms of color on a scale of D to Z, with D being colorless and Z a highly yellow color and clarity from Flawless to Included (Fl-VVS-VS-SI-I). The color scale was set against a master set of color comparison diamonds held by the GIA. The clarity scale is based on examination of a stone under 10x magnification by a trained grader under the correct lighting conditions for grading. These grading scales have been adopted and accepted worldwide as the standard for judging diamond quality.

CIBJO (World Jewellery Confederation) is a non-profit international organization established in 1972 with the aim of standardizing jewelry and gemstone descriptions world-wide in order to protect consumers and maintain confidence in the jewelry industry. Their diamond quality scales align with the GIA’s in terms of color and clarity although the terminology differs. The CIBJO diamond color master set matches the GIA set.

GIA standards in general are the most widely accepted by jewelry businesses and organizations around the world, whether they are aligned with CIBJO or not.

Unfortunately, when GIA invented the grading scales they neglected to register a patent or trademark for them. This means that there is a loophole that legally allows some for-profit Laboratories such as the European Gemological Laboratories (EGL) to set their own standards but use the GIA terminology. It also means that some retailers of diamonds can use EGL reports in order to give the appearance of a competitive edge. Bear in mind that some retailers are honestly unaware of this situation and might themselves be characterized, in my opinion, as “victims” of this situation. My understanding of consumer law is that the discrepancy between EGL and GIA grading should be pointed out at the time of sale.

The following reports provide further background on this ongoing issue:

And the report referenced in the previous article:

Kenneth W. Burchell, Ph.D., G.G. – Appraisal Associates is GIA trained and grades in conformity with GIA terminology and definitions.

© Kenneth W. Burchell — 2014 — All Rights Reserved.

[Acknowledgment and thanks to Paul Nilsson of GemLab Jewellery Valuers for assistance with the text]

About admin

Independent appraiser of fine and antique jewelry and gemstones with 45 years professional experience and credentials. Professional and published historian of American history with emphasis on Thomas Paine and late eighteenth/early nineteenth century transatlantic democratic reform.
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