By Julia Griffith
THE GEM ACADEMY
In a significant move to combat fraudulent activities within the diamond industry, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has announced a same-day verification service for diamonds bearing a GIA inscription to confirm their validity.
This initiative is in response to counterfeit GIA inscriptions being placed on laboratory-grown diamonds. Such stones have often been manufactured to almost exactly match the cut, weight, and dimensions of a specific GIA-graded natural diamond whose report number is then deceptively etched onto the counterfeit stone. They also fall within the same colour and quality grade and, so, appear to perfectly match the GIA report they are fraudulently linked to.
This same-day verification service, which is now in force from this week, aims to safeguard consumers and maintain trust within the gems and jewellery sector.
Verification Service Details:
The GIA laboratory in New York accept walk-in and courier submissions of diamonds engraved with a GIA inscription linking to natural diamond reports. The service ensures that the diamond in question corresponds accurately with the inscribed GIA report number. Turn around time depends on the volume of submissions.
GIA encourages other gemmological laboratories, industry organizations, companies, and individuals to report any instances of GIA inscription counterfeiting promptly. GIA pledges to take appropriate measures by reporting fraudulent activities to the appropriate trade and law enforcement agencies.
GIA President and CEO Susan Jacques emphasized the institute's commitment to combating fraud, “Combatting this fraud is vital to protecting the public and ensuring their confidence in gems and jewelry – this is GIA’s mission”. Drawing parallels with renowned global brands like Tiffany and Cartier, Jacques affirmed that GIA would take rigorous action to protect its integrity and the trust consumers place in the institute.
How common is this kind of fraud?
GIA has reported a number of instances over the past few years where false laboratory-grown or treated natural diamonds were inscribed with the report number of GIA graded natural untreated diamonds. Historically, there have also been reports on synthetic moissanites with false GIA inscriptions.
No exact figures demonstrating the prevalence of this fraud have been revealed. However, such activities have been reported since 2017. More recent reports have stated that the cases are increasing particularly pertaining to laboratory-grown diamonds.
Speaking with clients during my practical workshops on identifying laboratory-grown diamonds, one of the biggest pawnbrokers in the UK revealed that they see one to two of these stones a month amongst their whole company. It has been reported that the inscriptions themselves are not as neat as official GIA inscriptions and that they are not often accompanied with a physical report.
One conversation with a laboratory-grown diamond producer revealed that they receive requests for stones of specific sizes, measurements, and grades with an additional request to receive the stone without an inscription. Could these be stones that are then used in fraudulent activities?
I deeply appreciate and respect GIA for initiating this crucial service. It undoubtedly represents a substantial investment on their part, underscoring their commitment to maintaining the integrity of the diamond industry.
The necessity for this proactive approach likely stems from GIA's widespread recognition as a premier grading lab for diamonds. With 90% of all diamonds bearing reports having passed through GIA's reputable hands, the institute has long held a distinguished reputation for excellence in this domain and are commonly seen as the best reports for natural diamonds. Unfortunately, this reputation makes them a target for such fraud. Lately, other grading organisations have begun to report similar counterfeiting issues.
Anticipating a surge in demand for this valuable service, I am optimistic that those in our industry will exercise due diligence before submission and continue to invest in education and tools that facilitate informed decision-making.
This proactive step from GIA is not only commendable but also opens up opportunities for the industry to further elevate standards and foster a culture of continuous improvement. They are taking responsibility to protect their business and the industry at large. Let's follow suit.