Gemological Institute of America
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|Gemological Institute of America|
|Academic staff||21 Gemology & 9 Jewelry Arts Instructors|
|Location||Carlsbad, California, United States|
The Gemological Institute of America, or GIA, is a nonprofit institute dedicated to research and education in the field of gemology and the jewelry arts. Founded in 1931, GIA's mission is to protect all buyers and sellers of gemstones by setting and maintaining the standards used to evaluate gemstone quality. The institute does so through research, gem identification and diamond grading services and a variety of educational programs. Through its world-renowned library and subject experts, GIA acts as a resource of gem and jewelry information for the trade, the public and worldwide media outlets.
In 1953 the GIA developed its International Diamond Grading System and the Four Cs (cut, clarity, color, and carat weight) as a standard to compare and evaluate the quality of diamonds.
Today, the institute is headquartered in Carlsbad, California and operates out of 14 countries, with 12 campuses, seven laboratories and four research centers worldwide.
On February 15, 1931, retail jeweler Robert M. Shipley cashed in his savings to establish the Gemological Institute of America. Because most jewelers of that time knew little about the gems they trade, Shipley sought to professionalize the industry through education, research and gemological instrumentation. The fledgling institute, operated out of the Shipleys' home in Los Angeles, offered mail-order courses and gem testing services.
Since the 1930s, GIA has made numerous breakthroughs in the understanding of gems. These include:
- creating the D to Z color scale and the Flawless to I3 clarity scale for diamonds, the internationally recognized standards for evaluating diamond quality (1953)
- detecting irradiated yellow diamonds (1956)
- determining the color of black cultured pearls to be natural (1961)
- the first gemological study of tanzanite (1968)
- the first report on faceted synthetic diamonds (1971)
- detecting diamonds decolorized by high-pressure/high-temperature (HPHT) treatment (1999)
- detecting chemical vapor deposition (CVD) gem-quality synthetic diamonds (2003)
GIA is actively engaged in research to advance the science of gemology. Historically, research has focused on developing methods and technologies to accurately identify and characterize gems. This research has produced significant advances in the ability to differentiate gems and identify simulants (particularly diamond simulants). GIA was also responsible for the first modern diamond grading reports, where it introduced grading methodologies for diamond color and diamond clarity. Today, these scales and methods are the standard within the gem trade for characterization of diamonds.
The GIA Laboratory provides a variety of gem grading and identification reports. Diamond grading reports for unmounted natural and synthetic diamonds determine their key characteristics: color, clarity, cut and carat weight. GIA issues two types of reports, the more complete being the Diamond Grading Report (a briefer and less expensive version is called a Diamond Dossier). The reports contain a number of measurements, including of carat weight as well as a diagram of where and what types of inclusions are located in the diamond. Diamond grading reports are now demanded by most consumers purchasing diamonds over a certain size, typically for over 0.5 carat (100 mg), and almost always for over 1.0 carat (200 mg), and are considered an important tool in guaranteeing that a diamond is accurately represented to a potential buyer.
GIA colored stone identification reports may include a comment about any treatments detected and an opinion of country of origin for ruby, sapphire, emerald and tourmaline. Pearl reports specify the weight, size, shape, color, origin (natural or cultured) and presence of treatments.
GIA offers several programs and courses online through an interactive eLearning format, and through its 12 campus locations around the world. The institute also offers corporate training programs and works with trade organizations worldwide to provide technical training in gemstones and jewelry.
The Graduate Gemologist (G.G.) diploma offers a comprehensive education in gemology. Graduates of the program receive the Graduate Gemologist diploma as well as Graduate Diamonds and Graduate Colored Stones diplomas. Students can also earn an Accredited Jewelry Professional diploma with the addition of one more course, which can also be taken independently. The Graduate Pearls diploma program provides a comprehensive foundation in pearl identification and grading.
Additionally, GIA's Carlsbad campus offers several programs in jewelry arts. The Applied Jewelry Arts Program (AJA) diploma covers jewelry design, wax carving, mold making, casting and CAD/CAM. The Graduate Jeweler diploma program teaches the fabrication, repair and stone setting skills to become a professional bench jeweler. Other jewelry arts classes are held on campus in Carlsbad and New York.
GIA's Carlsbad and New York on-campus courses are accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC). Its Distance Education courses are accredited by the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC).
GIA Diploma Programs and courses include:
- Graduate Gemologist
- Graduate Diamonds
- Graduate Colored Stones
- Graduate Pearls
- Accredited Jewelry Professional
- Applied Jewelry Arts
- Graduate Jeweler
- Jewelry Design Course
- Comprehensive CAD/CAM for Jewelry Course
GIA also exists to educate the gem and jewelry industry and the general public through its publications and outreach efforts. Most notable of these efforts is the quarterly publication of the magazine Gems & Gemology, a respected journal in the field. The journal includes full-length feature articles, as well as reports on GIA research, abstracts of relevant articles from other journals, book reviews, and industry news from around the world.
Library and Information Center
The Richard T. Liddicoat Gemological Library and Information Center, located at GIA’s headquarters in Carlsbad, California, is the premier resource for gemological knowledge. It houses a growing collection of 38,000 books, 700 international magazines and journals (with current subscriptions to 225 titles), 1,000 videos/DVDs, 80,000 digital images, 300 maps, and approximately 6,000 original jewelry design renderings.
The collection contains works published from 1496 to the present, encompassing the history and modern development of gemology. Subjects include natural and synthetic gemstones, gem treatments, jewelry design, manufacturing, and marketing.
The Liddicoat Library is open to the public and the jewelry trade for on-campus research. The library catalog and other resources are available through the website. A reference staff with gemological expertise is on hand to answer questions and may be contacted by e-mail or telephone.
GIA also designs and manufactures professional equipment for grading, identifying, and selling diamonds and colored gemstones. These instruments are used to determine the physical and optical properties of gems and analyze their microscopic features.
The first GIA instrument, a 10x eye loupe, was introduced in the early 1930s. Darkfield illumination, a lighting technique that makes gem inclusions easily visible in the microscope, was patented later that decade by Robert M. Shipley, Jr., the son of GIA’s founder and an important figure in gemological instrumentation.
In addition to basic jeweler’s tools such as loupes, tweezers, and gem cloths, the GIA Instruments product catalog includes sophisticated instruments ranging from microscopes to spectroscopes.
In 2005 a bribery allegation against GIA lab workers was made which raised questions on the integrity of diamond grading labs. A dealer claimed of fraud involving its lab workers on grading of two diamonds. These two diamonds had a discrepancy in its grading and an independent testing following the allegation. The dealer alleges that lab workers familiar with circumstances were involved.
This led to an internal probe being initiated at the GIA, which ran for four months. The probe unearthed Midtown lab workers' contact with clients, an act which is prohibited by GIA code of ethics. The fraudulent ratings and GIA code of ethics violations were acknowledged by then chairman of the GIA, Ralph Destino. The internal probe ended in October 2005, resulting in the firing of four lab workers and the head of the laboratory. Thomas Moses was appointed as new head of the laboratory.
Internal investigation was also initiated due to a lawsuit filed in April 2005 by Max Pincione, a jewelry dealer and former head of retail operations at elite jeweler Harry Winston. The lawsuit was filed against Vivid Collection LLC, Moty Spector, Ali Khazeneh and the GIA alleging that Vivid made payments to the GIA to upgrade the quality of the diamonds submitted for grading  which he further sold to the members of Saudi Royal family. On discovering the fraud the members of Saudi Royal family demanded their money back and refused to do any further business with Mr. Pincione. Mr. Pincione claimed he had in possession a ledger which supports the allegations that a supervisor at GIA was being paid more than $3,000 a month to change grades of the diamonds.
Full disclosure of the incident was never made by the GIA; this was not viewed positively by the industry.
GIA has several competitors in providing diamond grading reports and gemology training:
- The Gemmological Association of Great Britain, also known as Gem-A, is an international gemmology education and qualifications body based in the UK. It was founded in 1908 and its first American graduate was GIA founder Robert M. Shipley in 1929.
- The Hoge Raad voor de Diamant (HRD Antwerp), which means Diamond High Council, is Europe's counterpart to the GIA. HRD is popular in the Far East and Europe where its reports are legal documents recognized by the European Union.
- The International Gemological Institute (IGI), IGI is a competitor of GIA.
- The European Gemological Laboratory (EGL).
- The American Gemological Society (AGS), the AGS has traditionally focused on providing a cut grade which the industry was lacking in order to market higher end merchandise. The AGS is headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada.
- The Canadian Institute of Gemmology (CIG) is a career training institution for gemmologists and gem technologists in Canada.
There are also a number of laboratories affiliated to CIBJO.
- "About GIA". GIA. Retrieved 5 April 2011.
- "Graduate Gemologist Program". GIA. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
- "Accredited Jewelry Professional". GIA. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
- "CNN Article covering the fraud". CNN. Retrieved December 2005.
- "Martin Rapaport detailed coverage on the event". Diamond.net. Retrieved November 2005.
- Gemological Institute of America homepage