One of the most essential points to consider when you’re about to buy a gem is what type of certificate comes with that diamond, or to be precise: which certification lab has assessed the diamond and graded it accordingly?

Well, most of us are familiar with the GIA and why its certificate is considered the most reputable one in the diamond industry. The GIA report consists of the highest standards of reliability, consistency, and integrity, period!

But are all GIA certificates in the market are original? In other words, is the GIA certificate you saw for that diamond was officially issued by GIA for that exact diamond you’re considering? How you can verify if the certificate is fake or genuine?

Robert M. Shipley had a vision to “professionalize the jewelry trade through education”! And so, he founded the GIA; the Gemological Institute of America. And at that time, it was the first of its kind in the US.

Robert sought to put standards and ethics when buying and selling diamonds as well as other precious stones.

Now, whenever you’re browsing online stores like Blue Nile and you come across a great diamond like this one, scroll down a little bit and you will find a GIA logo under the “Diamond Details section” (no wonder why it’s located on the top section of the report), like this one:

GIA cert on BN

Click the image to see the actual full GIA report for that diamond.

Reputable online stores like James Allen or Whiteflash will show you a real GIA report for diamonds graded by GIA, however, this is not standard across all stores!

Unfortunately, the number of stores (both online and physical) showcasing and selling low-quality stones is increasingly growing, many are using fake GIA certificates as well!

For this reason, nowadays, it’s becoming more important than ever to check the GIA certificate if it’s real, official, legit, and if it actually represents the diamond you’re thinking of purchasing!

While our favorite online vendors; that we always recommend you to buy your diamonds from are 100% safe on this front, nevertheless, you might still want to double-check the certificates with less-known (or some scammy) online diamond vendors and in local stores.

Before going full “detective Conan” on this and discovering how to tell if the GIA certificate is original or fake, a good place to start would be to examine together how a typical GIA certificate actually looks like.

GIA Certificate Sample

Here is a sample of GIA report, it contains everything you need to know about the diamond, just take a look and pay attention to details, we will highlight some important information shortly: (click the image for a larger view, opens in a new tab)

GIA Sample Report

GIA Report Number Lookup: Check the Certificate Online

Before doing any kind of inspection whatsoever, every GIA report/certificate has a unique number on its top, this number is unique for EVERY report issued by certificate, and note here we’re saying unique per report, but not per diamond, why?

Because diamond can be inspected more than 1 time by GIA (or any other lab), then it will get a new report number, just keeping this in mind to understand what this number represents.

Now go the official GIA Report Lookup page here:

And enter the report number, you should clearly see the resulted report (that must match the one you have), this confirms 1 thing here, that this report is officially issued by GIA, but 1 thing is still remaining here:

How to verify if this report belongs to this particular diamond? Let’s see.

How Do I Check if a Report is Official & Real?

Faking a GIA report (as a piece of paper) is easy, but what’s easier is checking it online in less than a minute to know it’s fake! As we will see in a bit. 

Looking up a GIA report is not a rocket science, there are many signs that will tell you if the report is legit, but be careful, it’s not only about having an official report by GIA, some “amateur” stores provide real GIA reports, but for different diamonds!

Yes you read that right, I’ve been reached by a reader who was about to get a diamond based on the certificate of another diamond!

So when we check the GIA report, any report, we need to notice what makes it real, and what makes it for the diamond we’re checking!

Look now again the sample report above, other than all diamond specifications on the left (4Cs, measurements, Polish, Fluorescence, etc…), take a look at these:

1- Report Number:

The GIA certificate has a report number on the middle top, and under it, it says you can look up this report on the GIA website. Head to GIA Report Check Page and enter the report number, you will get a page like this one for the above sample report.

2- QR Code:

GIA Report QRStarting 2014, GIA started to include a QR (Quick Response) code to ALL reports, it’s added at the bottom right of the certificate.

Scan it to go to the Diamond Report Check Page on GIA. If the report is older than 2014, it won’t be there, but it would be a good question to know why a diamond wasn’t sold for all that time (or maybe it’s a second hand diamond?).

Note that these two points (number & QR) will guarantee that the report is officially issued by GIA, but doesn’t confirm if it belongs to your diamond or not.

3- The Clarity Characteristics Section:

This is the MOST important thing you need to look at your report. If your diamond is more than one carat, the GIA report will have this in the middle-lower section.

GIA Report Clarity Section

This Clarity section will tell you where exactly the inclusions appear on the diamond (unless it’s flawless which is a very rare grade, and impossible for someone to have one and willing to use a fake GIA to sell it).

If you’re on a website that doesn’t show a magnified image of the diamond, DON’T buy from them, don’t ever buy a diamond without seeing it, that’s why we always recommend getting from the known brands like James Allen, Blue Nile & Whiteflash, which provide all the details necessary about the diamond.

For example, if you look at this diamond on Blue Nile, and then check its GIA certificate clarity section:

Clarity section for BN Diamond

You will be able to match most of inclusions you see on the diamond, this is more easily doable on James Allen with their insane 40x magnified 360 HD videos (even with 20x since their imaging technology is superb), but unfortunately you have to ask for every certificate via chat or call (which is very worth it if you’re going with that diamond).

If you’re in a local store, ask to see the diamond under magnification, every store will have a magnifier (loupe) like this one, look at the diamond on the exact locations pointed in the clarity section and match inclusions between report and the diamond in your hand.

Diamond Loupe 10x

Inclusions on the report are 100% accurate, and if you saw an inclusion that’s not on the exact location marked on the report, it’s most probably a fake one, and you better get out of that store.

If you’re more into diamonds and can tell what type of inclusion is it, you can also match the location with the type as well, such low-quality stores will try to match diamonds with the same inclusion spots, but it’s less likely to match inclusion types as well!

4- Other Considerations:

You may want to check & match ALL characteristics of the diamond on the certificate with the ones provided, it’s less likely a seller will have unmatched characteristics, but you never know! 

If you’re good in numbers and giving approximations, try to see if the dimensions provided for the diamond in the report make sense and match what you’ve in your hand.

Look at the Hologram, security code, QR, all information on the GIA report, something there will tell you about that.

The GIA has added a new detail to the diamond report in which provides pieces of information about the diamond origin, accurate diamond grading report, its rough state before being polished, and much more. To learn more, you can visit the official GIA website.

In addition to all we have explained previously, let me give you a piece of advice in which will help you even more in your search for the perfect diamond:

Get Your Diamond From A Reputable Store, either online or a local store, just make sure you’re not putting x thousands of dollars on a diamond that you suspect. why don’t you spare the time of going to a store while you can visit the most trusted online stores for diamonds like James Allen, Blue Nile and Whiteflash.

To learn more about the diamond GIA certificate and to make sure that you understand everything related to the GIA grading, feel free to check How to Select a Diamond Certificate?

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