GIA Responds to Hanneman

Dr. William Hanneman’s letter to the editor in the May issue of JCK, titled “More on SI3,” seemed to be more concerned with challenging the integrity of GIA than with creating sincere dialogue on diamond grading standards. Although it is unfortunate that GIA did not have the opportunity to respond in the same edition in which that letter was published, we think that a response now can still help readers better understand GIA’s actual policies and practices in the matters brought into question by the letter’s author. We first want to point out the inaccuracy in the letter’s reference to checking a diamond with a 3X jeweler’s loupe for clarity grading, because it clearly raises questions about the author’s understanding of GIA’s diamond grading system, our standards, and even Federal Trade Commission guidelines.

GIA clarity grading is performed with a binocular microscope under 10X magnification using dark-field illumination, or with a fully corrected 10X loupe under standardized lighting and viewing conditions. Our Diamonds and Diamond Grading course contains detailed explanations of our clarity grading system, such that any learned professional would know GIA’s stance and teaching on the eye-visibility of inclusions. In short, eye-visibility in clarity grading does not automatically place a stone in any one grade range, and it is incorrect to assume that because “I” clarity grades often have eye-visible inclusions higher grades do not. This is simply not true.

We cannot specifically comment on the anecdotal information in the letter because we cannot verify that information, such as which diamond is referred to (or the location, size, or nature of the “eye-visible” inclusion that is central to this example), the name of the store or saleswoman in question, or the name of the GIA representative with whom the salesperson allegedly spoke. However, we take this opportunity to re-state, once again, our position related to the three questions posed at the end of the letter.

Questions 1 and 3 are addressed as follows: The GIA Gem Trade Laboratory is proud of its more-than 50 year record of applying the most stringent standards of quality and expertise in diamond grading with complete independence and integrity. Those standards remain unchanged.

Question 2, regarding the SI3 grade, has been answered many times over the past decade: GIA has never used this grade, and we have no plans to do so. GIA has made this position quite clear throughout the industry and has not wavered on it.

Finally, let me say that GIA’s grading practices are tested and validated hundreds, even thousands of times, each day, by the most important reviewers in the industry—learned clients of the Lab from around the world and from all sectors of the trade, and even the consuming public—as they request GIA Diamond Grading Reports for the world’s largest and finest diamonds. We are confident that diamond experts and marketplace professionals from virtually every area of the trade speak to the integrity of our Laboratory and our grading system. Our system has stood the test of time and has become the de facto diamond-grading standard of the world.

William E. Boyajian, President

Gemological Institute of America

Carlsbad, Calif.

Publisher’s comment: Mr. Boyajian’s point concerning the opportunity of responding to Dr. Hanneman’s letter to the editor in the May issue of JCK is well taken. In the future, if a letter writer levels criticism at a particular industry institution, JCK will, as a matter of policy, provide an opportunity for the affected institution to respond in the same issue. We believe the interests of all JCK readers are best served in seeing both sides of an argument simultaneously.

In connection with the discussion of SI3, JCK published a comment attributed to Mr. Boyajian in the May issue. This comment was not intended by GIA as a response to Dr. Hanneman’s letter but rather to senior gemstone editor Gary Roskin’s request for a comment on SI3 from GIA. While the attribution was correct, JCK regrets the juxtaposition of Mr. Boyajian’s comment and the Hanneman letter in the May issue. Mr. Boyajian’s response in this issue to the claims made by Dr. Hanneman stands on its own.