GIA Colored Diamond Grades Draw Controversy

The Gemological Institute of America's 11/2-year-old colored diamond grading system has made a smooth transition into the trade, says Tom Yonelunas, director of the GIA Gem Trade Lab. Some retailers and dealers disagree, saying the GIA system doesn't tell the whole story and is applied inconsistently. They say it has hyped interest in colored diamonds at the top of the scale, but compromised prices in the lower middle. Briefly, the system subdivides the higher end of the color quality range into new categories: better yellows that had been graded Intense now can be graded Vivid or Deep. But some feel the lines between Faint, Fancy Light, Fancy and Fancy Intense have blurred. Jeweler Harold Tivol of Kansas City, Mo., says the system is not specific enough -- particularly with yellows. "Two diamonds can be graded the same -- perhaps Fancy Intense -- but one is a deeper yellow," he sa

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