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GIA Uses AI to Power Gemstone Grading

TECHNOLOGY: IBM Collaboration Adds Efficiency, Consistency

Since its founding in 1931, the Carlsbad-based Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has been the leading innovator and educator in the assessment of precious stones.

The GIA literally set the standard for how diamonds and other gems are graded with the four Cs of cut, carat, color and clarity that became “de facto all around the world for the quality evaluation of the diamond,” said GIA  Chief Operating Officer Pritesh Patel.

Pritesh Patel
Chief Operating Officer
GIA

GIA’s earliest tool to assess a gem’s grade using the 4C standard was a high-quality jeweler’s loupe – an eyeglass small enough to be held in one hand that could magnify stones 10 times, allowing jewelers and gemologists to inspect them for color and clarity. “And over the years, a lot of those assessments happened under microscopes,” Patel said.

Over the years, GIA also developed other new technologies for its stone-grading laboratories like a meter to assess color; software used to grade cuts; and automation to accurately weigh stones. And until just recently, the “final frontier” for technology in grading gems was a solution for clarity.

AI Solution

Thanks to a collaboration between GIA and IBM, that final frontier has been reached. Last month, GIA announced it had developed an AI-based solution for grading a diamond’s clarity. “Which is one of the toughest things to do in the grading process; to assess the different inclusions within a particular diamond and then predicting a grade based on the standards,” Patel said.

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The new technology uses AI-powered software to find inclusions – small imperfections within a stone – with advanced speed and accuracy. The system was developed by IBM using GIA’s standards and decades of data points to teach and train the algorithms to locate and evaluate a diamond’s inclusions and give a grade for clarity.

Tom Moses 
Executive VP and Chief Laboratory and Research Officer
GIA

“With the millions of  diamonds that  are  analyzed by  GIA, the Institute is uniquely positioned to leverage AI to drive our consumer protection mission forward,” said Tom Moses,  GIA  executive vice president and chief laboratory and research officer. “In the last two years we’ve been able to combine  IBM’s AI technology with  GIA’s expertise, extensive data and gemological research.”

Added Protection and Value

GIA  grades millions of diamonds per year and Patel expects AI will now handle 70 to 80% of those evaluations.

Despite the expected high adoption of AI, the most difficult grading cases will still be handled by GIA’s highly trained gemologists.  The real advantage, Patel said, is in the added efficiency, reliability and consistency in evaluating massive amounts of diamonds.

“Diamond grading is somewhere between art and science,” he said. “Two humans looking at the same thing might have little variations. GIA graders are the best in world, but there is still some variation, which impacts the value of stones.”

The AI will also allow GIA to assess smaller diamonds that were usually not assessed because it has been impossible for humans to handle the volume.

“So when you buy a necklace with multiple tiny diamonds, now we’ll be able to grade them. It’s a new area where consumers currently don’t get the benefit of our grading services,” Patel said, adding that the benefit goes both ways as retailers will now be able to more accurately price jewelry with higher quality small diamonds.

The AI tech was first used in GIA’s laboratories in New York and Carlsbad, alongside GIA graders to evaluate its accuracy. “Now we have rolled out this technology in all 11 of our labs around the world,” Patel said.

The GIA is currently training and reskilling its workforce of gem graders, which Patel said is ultimately a benefit to people in the industry.

“The role of how grading happens will evolve because now we’ll be utilizing this technology to assist our graders in working in a more efficient way,” he said. “In our experience, every time we introduce a new technology, we create new opportunities to grow more and protect more consumers by grading more diamonds.”

 

Gemological Institute of America (GIA)

Founded: 1931
CEO: Susan Jacques
Headquarters: Carlsbad
Business: Nonprofit providing gemological education and consumer protection programs.
Revenue: $202 million (2021)
Employees: 3,600 worldwide
Website: www.gia.edu
Notable: GIA developed the four 4C standard for grading diamonds and other precious gemstones.

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