The Paper Trail: How Certificates Changed Diamond and Gem Buying

Three top retailers reveal how certificates changed the way consumers buy diamonds and gemstones The Information Age has unfolded across generations of JCK readers, and in few product categories has that proved as consequential as in gems. Over the decades, customers have evolved from buying diamonds and colored stones essentially on blind faith to researching diamonds with laser-inscribed grading report serial numbers and comparison shopping them, instantly, online. “In the very early days, before the GIA Lab was even founded, there was no one with authority and expertise,” recalls Bill Underwood, who founded Underwoods Fine Jewelers in Fayetteville, Ark., in 1957, and as a former American Gem Society president led industry efforts to standardize diamond grading. “There were so-called diamond

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