Gemological Institute of America

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is a nonprofit institute dedicated to research and education in the field of gemology and the jewelry arts.[1] 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.[2]

Gemological Institute of America (GIA)
Academic staff
21 Gemology & 9 Jewelry Arts Instructors
Location, ,

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.[2]

Today, the institute is headquartered in Carlsbad, California and operates out of 13 countries, with 11 campuses, 9 laboratories and 4 research centers worldwide.


The story of the GIA starts back in the 1920s with a man named Robert M. Shipley. Shipley had been enjoying a successful career as a jeweler, but was coming to realize the unfortunate state of the gem and jewelry industry: a typical jeweler in the US, himself included, had a surprising lack of expertise when it came to jewelry and precious stones. He therefore took it upon himself to bring change to the jeweler's trade, and restore the public's trust therein.

After traveling to Europe and completing the Great Britain National Association of Goldsmiths gemological correspondence course, Shipley returned to Los Angeles. It was here that he launched his own preliminary course in gemology on September 16, 1930, seeking to train and certify jewelers. The jewelers he certified would eventually serve to form a national guild of jewelers, dedicated to providing the public with a superior sense of professionalism within the gem and jewelry field.[3]

The first GIA gemological laboratory was established in Los Angeles in 1931. The jeweler's profession was quickly transformed, with the introduction of the "Certified Gemologist" professional designation and the legitimization of gemology as a recognized science.[4] Over the years, the group has brought many significant new developments to the industry, including the following:

  • 1934: GIA patents a jeweler's loupe with triple aplanatic lenses.
  • 1937: GIA patents the world's first gemological microscope, allowing gemologists to properly examine the insides of gemstones.
  • 1953: The diamond grading system based on Shipley's Four C's becomes an international standard for determining diamond quality.
  • 1955: GIA issues the first diamond grading reports, which are accepted as an international benchmark for the jewelry industry.
  • 1956: GIA finds a reliable way to detect diamonds that have been irradiated to artificially enhance their color.
  • 1960: The GIA Diamond Dictionary is published, becoming an international industry reference.
  • 1987: The Liddicoat Gemological Library and Information Center amasses the largest collection of books on gemology in the world.
  • 1991: GIA hosts its first annual Career Fair, which becomes the industry's most significant recruiting event.
  • 1999: GIA identifies a way to detect diamonds that have been decolorized by high pressure and high temperatures (HPHT treatment).
  • 2003: GIA identifies a way to detect sapphires made from beryllium-diffusion techniques, and diamonds made from chemical vapor deposition.
  • 2005: GIA creates a system for grading the cut of round brilliant diamonds in the D-to-Z color range.
  • 2007: GIA introduces a Synthetic Diamond Grading Report.
  • 2014: GIA introduces DiamondCheck, which is capable of differentiating between natural and treated or synthetic diamonds.[4]


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.

Current research at gemological laboratories concerns the development of improved detection techniques for treated and synthetic diamonds, as well as for treated sapphires, rubies, and pearls.

Laboratory Services

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.[5] Students can also earn an Accredited Jewelry Professional diploma with the addition of one more course, which can also be taken independently.[6] 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 Jeweler
  • Graduate Gemologist
  • Graduate Diamonds
  • Graduate Colored Stones
  • Graduate Pearls
  • Accredited Jewelry Professional
  • Jewelry Design & Technology
  • Graduate Jeweler
  • Jewelry Design Course
  • Comprehensive CAD/CAM

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,

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 Instruments

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.[7]

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 [8] 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.


  1. "About GIA". GIA. Retrieved 5 April 2011.
  2. "Colored Diamonds Shine at GIA's GemFest in Tokyo". Retrieved 2016-11-11.
  3. "Robert M. Shipley, Founder of GIA". Retrieved 2016-11-11.
  4. "The GIA Difference". Retrieved 2016-11-11.
  5. "Graduate Gemologist Program". GIA. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
  6. "Accredited Jewelry Professional". GIA. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
  7. "CNN Article covering the fraud". CNN. Retrieved 20 December 2005.
  8. "Martin Rapaport detailed coverage on the event". Retrieved November 2005. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
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