The Gemological Institute of America begins issuing grading reports for synthetic diamonds this month. GIA is not the first to grade synthetic diamonds as well as identify them: International Gemological Institute launched its laboratory grown diamond grading report last month and European Gemological Laboratories USA has issued reports on synthetic diamonds since 2001.
But GIA's announcement at the World Diamond Congress in Tel Aviv in June 2006 was sure to spark debate, since the previous congress two years earlier had voted to forbid grading reports for synthetic diamonds. GIA chairman Ralph Destino told the delegates that GIA's public-benefit mission required it to "describe and report on synthetics so that consumers can rely on full and proper disclosure" when they enter the diamond marketplace. The WFDB subsequently voted that synthetics could be graded and concurred that "full disclosure can only enhance consumer confidence."
Debate continued all summer about format and nomenclature. Synthetic manufacturers objected to the use of the term synthetic in early prototypes of the report, saying that it misled consumers to think that the stones were imitation.
"The GIA was very diligent in its effort to get—and take into consideration—input from all involved segments of the industry," says Jeff Fischer of Fischer Diamonds, president of the International Diamond Manufacturers Association. "The final product reflects that. It may not be exactly what any of the divergent parties might have wished for, but it is a fair and reasonable result."
The GIA synthetic colored diamond report, which has a distinctive format and is color-coded with yellow stripes and boxes, uses the term "laboratory grown" to describe the diamond in the identification field. The new synthetic grading report includes the note: "This is a man-made diamond and has been produced in a laboratory."
One notable absence on the report is the absence of the word "fancy" which would appear in the color descriptions on a natural colored diamond report. However, standard color description nomenclature is being used, for example "intense orangey yellow." The report also does not use GIA's standard grades for clarity. Instead, it spells out the information. Instead of VS, it says "very slightly included."
In conjunction with the report, GIA will laser-engrave the term "laboratory grown" on the girdle (unless another similar term has already been inscribed). GIA has said it will allow any term approved by the Federal Trade Commission.