GIA’s New Cut Grade to Go ‘Live’ Next Year

The Gemological Institute of America’s famed lab will add its first-ever cut grade to its reports Jan. 1, 2006.

The system will have five overall cut grades: excellent, very good, good, fair, and poor. It will apply to round brilliants only, not fancy shapes, fancy-colored stones, or rounds modified with different facet arrangements—though GIA is researching those stones.

“We are ready to go [with the grade] today,” said president William E. Boyajian at a press conference, but the Institute wanted to give the trade a six-month lead time to study the system.

Boyajian says GIA wants its cut scale to “be as prominent as [its] color and clarity scales.” For that reason, the grade is not proprietary. “Because GIA is a nonprofit organization, we can establish a standard for any other lab or report,” Boyajian says.

GIA’s Facetware Cut Estimator, available online, allows trade members to enter parameters to determine a grade.

The cut grade is the result of over a decade of research and more than 70,000 observation tests, to gauge how observers perceive cut.

The system’s researchers have stressed that there will be room for individual taste, and that stones graded “excellent” can look different; this will let retailers convey the importance of visually examining each diamond personally.

“If consumers rely solely on the paper, they will see a wide variety of appearances,” said researcher Al Gilbertson at a panel in Las Vegas. “So, what a concept—people will need to look at the diamond they are going to wear for the rest of their life.”

The introduction of the new grade means many stones will have to be regraded. The lab has collected proportion information on most of the round brilliant diamonds it has graded since Jan. 1. It will offer a free reissue service for reports on diamonds graded between Aug. 1 and Dec. 31, without requiring physical resubmission. There will be a “nominal” fee to reissue reports for stones graded in 2005 prior to Aug. 1, of which only a small portion will need to be returned to the lab.

The new grade will undoubtedly affect the value of many stones, but Martin Rapaport, publisher of the influential Rapaport Diamond Report, told JCK he will “absolutely not” add the new grade to his list.

Instead, his prices will be based on the assumption that the stone has received a “very good” grade.

As part of its cut-grade rollout, GIA has introduced a standardized viewing environment, DiamondDock, which it says provides optimal lighting to assess and display cut quality of round-brilliant-cut diamonds.

Specifics are available at diamondcut.gia.edu.