GIA is Withholding Lab Diamond Grades from the Public. Why?

Starting July 1st, GIA will finally abandon the word synthetic and rebrand its Synthetic Diamond Reports as GIA Laboratory-Grown Diamond Reports.

Why the change?

1. The FTC’s updated jewelry guidelines
2. Formal complaints received by GIA’s compliance team
3. The public, which GIA serves, have clearly abandoned the term synthetic:

Google Search Trends for lab diamond (blue) vs synthetic diamond (red)

New name, same censorship

While GIA did change the name of their reports, GIA did not change its policy of withholding information from the reports.

For over a decade, GIA has graded lab diamonds on the exact same 4Cs criteria as mined diamonds, recorded those precise gradings in GIA’s database, and withheld the information from the public by removing key grading details from their synthetic diamond reports.

Thus, two very different quality lab diamonds (say G SI1 & J SI2) will still receive the exact same GIA report, despite clear and obvious differences in quality to even an untrained eye.

To explain the chart above — if a diamond came out of the earth, the GIA grading is determined, entered into a database, and then printed on the GIA report.

If the diamond is created in a laboratory above the earth, the GIA grading is determined, recorded in the database, censored, and then printed on the report:

D, E, or F color diamonds receive a Colorless grade on the report.
 G, H, I, or J color diamonds receive a Near Colorless grade on the report.

SI1 or SI2 clarity diamonds receive a Slightly Included grading.
 VS1 or VS2 clarity diamonds receive a Very Slightly Included grading.
 VVS1 or VVS2 clarity diamonds receive Very, Very Slightly Included.


That’s a serious accusation against a non-profit that claims to be independent — what’s your proof?

My proof is not anonymous sources or leaked documents. My proof is GIA’s own publicly available academic journal, Gems & Gemology. Below are a few examples of GIA’s full fidelity gradings of lab diamonds.



Still don’t believe me?

On GIA’s official YouTube channel, a senior GIA employee clearly explains that GIA is grading CVD diamonds with full fidelity:

“We can look at the clarity features and clarity grades [of CVD diamonds]. Most of them are in the VVS2 to VS1 range. We do see some at the extremes of IF to I2.”

Okay, you’ve proved that GIA is censoring their laboratory-grown diamond reports… So what?

You’re delusional (or paid by the Diamond Producers’ Association) if you believe that no one in the public desires a GIA grading of lab diamonds.

GIA’s censorship harms the public’s ability to evaluate the quality of lab diamonds.

GIA’s censorship harms the public’s ability to re-sell lab diamonds.

GIA’s censorship harms the public’s faith in lab diamonds.

GIA’s censorship harms the public.

­­­­­­Why should lab diamond grading reports have less transparency than the grading reports for natural diamonds? Is it GIA’s position that natural diamonds are more deserving of a grading report with more accurate information than lab grown diamonds?

If GIA believes that natural diamonds are worthy of a full 4Cs, but ‘artificial’ crystals of carbon are not worthy, why does GIA grade treated diamonds with a full 4Cs?

Much to the chagrin of the lab diamond haters out there, lab diamonds do have a resale market and value. My company (among others) buy lab diamonds from the public, and a consumer’s ability to re-sell a lab diamond is dependent on accurate and transparent grading. The amount for which a consumer can sell a D VS1 versus an F VS2 is obviously different.


Does the public really want full fidelity Lab Diamond Grading Reports from GIA?

It’s undeniable that a rapidly growing portion of the public is choosing lab diamonds over mined diamonds.

I’m the CEO of a lab diamond jewelry retailer. Our sales team gets asked about GIA certification of man-made diamonds.

Every.
Single.
Day.

We have disappointed many when we try to explain GIA’s inexplicable censorship.

Of course, De Beers and some portion of the public believe that GIA should not grade lab diamonds; however, GIA does not serve the mined diamond industry, nor does GIA serve some portion of the public.

The GIA Mission Statement does not read “to ensure some of the public’s trust in some gems.”

Tom Moses recently told Rob Bates that GIA’s 85-year-old mission is to make sure the public knows what it’s getting.

Tom — how are you fulfilling GIA’s mission by censoring information so that a G SI1 and a J SI2 lab diamond receive the same grading?


Why does GIA censor lab diamond reports?

Dr. James Shigley, senior GIA researcher, is crystal clear as to why GIA chose a policy of censorship:

“When these reports were introduced, there was a range of opinion in the trade about GIA grading synthetic diamonds.”

Furthermore, both Susan Jacques (GIA’s CEO) and Stephen Morisseau (GIA’s Director of Communications) have admitted to me that there are “glaring inconsistencies” in GIA’s grading policies but GIA is too risk adverse to make changes that jeopardize the (significant) revenue that GIA receives from the mined diamond trade.

I’m sure that GIA will continue to reiterate the same tired excuses for why they censor lab diamond reports, but none of their logic stands up to a modicum of critical thinking or scientific reason.


Who does GIA serve? The trade, or the public?

GIA is explicitly clear in its Mission Statement, Code of Conduct, and IRS non-profit filings that GIA serves to ensure the public trust in gems and jewelry. In other words, GIA serves you, the consumer, a member of the public.

GIA does not serve the trade. Thus, ‘a range of opinions in the trade’ is not an appropriate justification for GIA’s decision to withhold information from the public, especially given how prominently GIA claims its independence:

“To truly be the foremost authority in gemology, we must always be an impartial, independent organization. No matter what other changes may come to GIA, we will always be steadfast in our commitment to lead with integrity and the highest ethical standards.” — GIA CEO Susan Jacques

GIA’s lab diamond censorship is *not* independent from the trade.

GIA’s lab diamond censorship is *not* a service to the public.


Could GIA’s refusal to release gradings jeopardize their non-profit status?

Yes.

The IRS states that “A 501(c)(3) organization’s activities should be directed exclusively toward some exempt purpose. Its activities should not serve the private interests, or private benefit, of any individual or organization more than insubstantially. The intent of a 501(c) (3) organization is to ensure it serves a public interest, not a private one.”

Withholding lab diamond grading information substantially serves the private interests of the mined diamond industry, not public interests.


Is GIA’s refusal to release the gradings illegal?

Yes.

Why?

It is irrefutable that GIA developed the 4Cs as the standard of diamond quality around the world to evaluate the color, clarity, and cutting standards that are used worldwide to evaluate every diamond — both mined or grown.

It is irrefutable that the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890 prohibits activities that restrict competition in the marketplace, especially for standard-setting organizations.

Thus, it is illegal for GIA, as a standard setting organization, to discriminate against lab diamonds by refusing to release accurate grading reports merely because the diamond did not originate beneath the earth.


Is it ethical and impartial for GIA to withhold grading information from the public?

No.


When will GIA respond to a formal Concern Report?

Nine months ago, I submitted a formal Concern Report that raises the issues above via GIA’s clearly defined concern reporting mechanism.

GIA’s Code of Conduct claims that GIA will promptly investigate all concerns and complaints thoroughly and fairly; however, I am still waiting for any substantive response to my concerns, almost a year later.

Thus, I am publicly releasing my concern (which you can read here) and calling for GIA’s Board of Governors to immediately launch an investigation into why GIA is #1) continuing to withhold gemological information from the public and #2) why GIA has yet to substantively respond to a formal concern, both of which are in violation of GIA’s Code of Conduct.

Those responsible for these Code of Conduct violations should be held accountable by the GIA Board of Governors, as the violations are a breach of fiduciary duty of GIA’s Board of Directors (Duty of Obedience).


If GIA stopped withholding lab diamond information from the public, what would happen?

Today, GIA is blind to many of the latest developments in both HPHT and CVD diamond growth, as there is no incentive for a diamond grower to send diamonds to GIA to receive substandard grading reports.

Changing the name of the report will do little to better expose GIA’s researchers to lab diamonds.

However, if GIA were to simply release the very information they have been actively withholding from the public, GIA would immediately receive thousands of lab diamonds for analysis and grading.

GIA’s researchers, educators, and students would all benefit. GIA could learn more about lab diamond gemstones in a month or two than they have learned in the last few years, which would greatly improve GIA ability to best serve the public.

The public that desires lab diamonds will be better served by GIA. 
The public that does not desire lab diamonds will be better served by GIA.

Yes, the mined diamond industry (and their $100m+ lobbying arm) would certainly hem and haw; however, the squawking from the mined diamond industry would die down logarithmically.

On the other hand, the benefits to researchers, educators, students, and the public would continue to compound exponentially.


Could GIA stop its censorship by July 1st?

GIA could end it’s censorship by merely printing one letter (Color) and one number (Clarity) on the new GIA Laboratory-Grown Diamond Reports. GIA is already determining these letters and numbers, so GIA only needs to change a few simple settings on its database and printers.

The new reports launch in 30 days. Surely, GIA’s Board of Directors could meet in the next few weeks and authorize these simple changes…

…if GIA truly serves the public.


GIA — if you really are an organization of integrity, independence, and impartiality, then prove it.

Stop withholding information from the public.