The Collectors Guide to Gemstone Certification
My Name is Anup Jogani and I am gem dealer. Now that we got that out of the way. Certifying a gemstone is like doing so for anything else that is important and often imitated.
Gemstones are unique fingerprints of natures art and geological processes. This is captured by way of a cornucopia of inclusions and properties that arrive from the molecular structure of the crystal (not glass, but the colloquial term gemologists refer to as the body of the gem).
For the purposes of valuing these little works of art, it all starts with a certificate of authenticity and quality from a reputable gemological lab. The culmination of hundreds of years of gemology in addition to decades of travelling and cataloging the inclusion profiles of every mine on earth lay in the archives a handful of organizations. These labs have invested millions of dollars in lab equipment to bolster their anecdotal knowledge preserving the sanctity of the buyers and sellers of these precious pebbles.
Art, coins, stamps, signatures, collectibles, antiques, and so many other valuable objects require an unquestioned and unbiased authority to guarantee these asset classes. Gemstones are no different, and great care must be taken in understanding these certificates whenever a transactions takes place, It is a LOT of money after all.
These are the gemological labs I trust. These are of my personal opinion and derived from years in the gemological trade. Not all labs are created equal, and the same goes for these three. I have a love hate relationship with the labs, because sometimes, as a dealer we do not agree with the results or their assessments of quality or origin. BUT I am fully aware that they are the bedrock upon which the gem trade is built on, and not a single important gem would trade hands without their eventual opinion as to the nature of the gem.
The G.I.A. headquarters is based in a sunny beach town in southern California and is the epicenter of gemological knowledge and diamond grading. They are the unquestioned authority on diamond grading within the trade. There really is not a single important diamond that should trade hands without their certification. With millions of dollars at its disposal, it has the best diamond analysis equipment at its disposal. They have been testing and grading diamonds for the better part of the 20th century!
The G.I.A also has a robust gemstone grading operation and relies heavily on the scientific analysis to grade the colored gemstones. Even though, the G.I.A. is NOT considered the authority on gemstones. This is because, they lack the anecdotal knowledge the following two labs possess. The G.I.A. made a push to grade color gemstones in recent years, but they still have many more to go before the lab catches up to the experiential knowledge-base of the S.S.E.F. and the A.G.L.