Global Diamond Industry Transparency And The Culture of Provenance, Series II

The second series deals with Gemological labs and their certificates. these should be transparent enough to know where the diamonds came from, and any previous life prior to re-polishing efforts, if any.

Gemological Labs and Certificate of Provenance

Since the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) was created in the early 20th century as an independant appraisal for diamonds and jewels, a lot has changed, including their relationship with some dealers. The same people have been managing the labs at GIA main offices in New York and Carlsbad of decades, which created a conflicting relationship with some prominent dealers who are top clients of these labs. 

A major issue that I find that needs a better and higher transparency is provenance of some diamonds. The market has been demanding to know provenance of diamonds, yet on many occasions these are not followed. A perfect example would be my reference to an article I wrote about Fancy Color Diamond Upgrades. When there is a potential of improving a color of a diamond and it affects the certificate, sometimes, the previous color grade is not mentioned, or the new certificate is not linked to the previous certificate even though the lab knows perfectly that the old and new diamond is one and the same.

Who is the ultimate client of the lab? the consumer or the dealer? it is clear that the dealer submits a diamond to be certified and pays the fee, but the certificate is meant for the consumer that wishes for an independent analysis of the diamond and to let them know what they are buying. Wasn’t that the purpose for which the labs were created? yet there are many instances where there is a breach of that trust and the labs know it. There are quite a few famous diamonds that have been re-polished by dealers, sent back to the lab, in this case the GIA and new certificates are issued without linking the old certificate to the new one. When you enter the old certificate number into the database, it does not refer to the new certificate number, which i think it should. it is part of both transparency as well as provenance.

I must give the GIA some credit for creating a third party reviewer of complaints called EthicsPoint. An individual may write anonymously to the GIA should they fear any type of unethical behaviour which is then investigated and the GIA returns an answer. It happened to me last year. I wrote an article on a specific diamond which ended up being upgraded, and just 2 days after I published it, the diamond was removed from the database with a message saying that the diamond is being reviewed and will be published shortly. Normally the GIA takes no more than 2 weeks to publish a certificate. This time it took way longer, 3-4 weeks, so I decided to use that service to investigate. I wrote to GIA anonymously. I asked all the questions about the old certificate and the new certificate. I ended up getting all my answers, but it still put a doubt in my head about their “honesty policy”. Why am I saying that? because I had the new certificate number and the old one, and so I used them during my communications at various points as if they had to answer truthfully because I had pushed them to a corner….how do I know that? because during that time, “somebody” from the GIA lab looked up my LinkedIn Profile. coincidence? not!

Next we cover Rapaport and his issues with transparency with Dealers Globally

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