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More on Gemstone Grading

The Best Labs to Get Your Coloured Gemstones Verified

In last month’s blog entry, we shared the answers to the 7 most frequently asked questions about diamond verification. If you missed it or want to re-read these must-know facts such as “Are all diamonds with a certificate/grading report definitely better in quality? , click here to read.

Apart from the industry leader GIA, we also introduced several diamond certification labs internationally, including the American Gem Society (AGS), International Gemological Institute (IGI), Hoge Raad voor Diamont Antwerp (HRD) and European Gemological Laboratory (EGL). However, when it comes to coloured gemstones, which labs are the best?

Here are a few of the most globally recognised and accredited certification labs for coloured gemstones:

  • Swiss Gemmological Institute (SSEF)

  • Gem Research Swiss Lab (GRS)

  • Gübelin Gem Lab

  • Gemological Institute of America (GIA)

Swiss Gemmological Institute (SSEF)

The Swiss Gemmological Institute is part of the Swiss Foundation for the Research of Gemstones (Schweizerische Stiftung für Edelstein-Forschung, SSEF), founded by trade organisations (Union de la Bijouterie et Orfèvrerie Suisse, UBOS) in 1972. It was recognised in 1978 by the World Jewellery Confederation – CIBJO. It is also a member of the International Colored Stone Association – ICA and the Laboratory Manual Harmonisation Committee (LMHC).

All SSEF laboratory gemmologists have a scientific and gemmological education and work on a high level of experience and integrity. The laboratory is equipped with the most modern analytical instruments. This ensures that the authenticity of gemstones, origins, and possible treatments can be tested in the most scientific and reproducible manner. SSEF provides independent expert advice in the field of precious stone analysis to a wide clientele, including precious stone dealers, jewellers, auction houses and private customers from around the world.

  • Services: SSEF covers verification services for diamonds, coloured gemstone and pearls. Coloured stones that can be tested include single or series of loose coloured gemstones, gemstones mounted in jewellery, and coloured stone bead necklaces.

  • Report: SSEF test reports are written in English, French or German, with an option of providing Chinese versions as well. However, the test reports issued are for identification only and do not provide a commercial evaluation. Clients can visit to verify the authenticity of reports. Reports issued after 11 July 2016 can also be downloaded in PDF format.

Sample of a SSEF Rating Report.

Image credit: Swiss Gemmological Institute (SSEF)

  • Price range: From 330 CHF (Swiss Francs) (1.99 carats or less, ID Report only; equivalent to around HK$2,700) to 4,200 CHF (100–149.99 carats, ID and Origin Report; equivalent to around HK$34,500). Click here for the full price list.

  • Turnaround time: Around 2 weeks

Gem Research Swiss Lab (GRS)

Founded in 1996 by Dr. Adolf Peretti who is the current CEO and chief gemologist of the company, GRS is an internationally accredited institute and one of the 3 leading gemstone verification labs in Switzerland. Not only is GRS trusted amongst clients, it is also a go-to for renowned auction houses, laboratories, wholesale markets, and the retail market. GRS has 6 laboratories strategically located across Europe, Asia, and North America, including one in Hong Kong – definitely making it delightfully convenient for clients here!

What GRS is probably the most reputed for is its trademarked GRS Color Terms which have evolved into an international standard since it was first launched in 2017. The groundbreaking system created a different approach to describing colour terms which has reshaped the industry. Some common gemstone colour descriptors you probably have heard of were pioneered by GRS, including ‘GRS-type pigeon blood’ for rubies, and ‘GRS-type royal blue’ for sapphires, as well as other grading terms such as ‘vivid’. Read the GRS Color Booklet here.

  • Services: Different from other labs that usually provide a full range of grading services for diamonds, coloured gemstones and pearls, GRS specialises exclusively in coloured gemstones. Its service scope includes determining the origins and authenticity of rubies, sapphires, and emeralds as well as other important coloured gems such as spinel, tourmaline, and garnet. GRS gemstone reports are issued for individual loose gemstones, gemstone pairs, gemstone sets, as well as for mounted jewellery such as rings, ear clips, and necklaces as long as the setting permits.

  • Report: Probably the most exciting feature of the GRS Gemstone Report is that apart from the original version, clients may also choose the ‘GRS AR Gemstone Report’, which comes with the standard GRS Gemstone Report, along with the gemstone or jewellery piece on an enlarged high-resolution photo and complemented by a 360° rotation video clip of the gemstone that can be played by scanning a QR code. You can also download the GRS mobile application and scan the gemstone picture to activate the augmented reality (AR) function and watch the glittering gem rotate before your eyes.

GRS Gemstone Report – The Original

Scan the QR code on the GRS AR Gemstone report to view a 360° rotation video clip of your gemstone. To use the augmented reality function, download the mobile application and scan the enlarged image of the gemstone to activate!

Image credit: GRS

  • Price range: The quote for each gemstone will be provided upon request.

  • Turnaround time: The regular service turnaround time is approximately 15 business days but may vary depending on availability.

Gübelin Gem Lab

The Gübelin Gem Lab was founded in 1923 as a small gemmological laboratory to examine and determine the authenticity of the stones used in Gübelin’s jewellery. Gradually over time, the Gübelin Gem Lab has grown to become one of the most respected institutions of its kind in the world, its Gemmological Reports highly respected and relied upon by famous auction houses, royal families, jewellers, gem traders, and collectors globally who are looking for unbiased, independent and absolutely trustworthy opinions about their gems. A branch was opened in Hong Kong in 2010 to serve the growing demand in Asia for its services.

The Gübelin Gemstone Rating assesses specific gemstones in 3 domains: quality, rarity and salience. Upon grading, these attributes are translated into a simple number: the Gübelin Points, which serves as a simpler and more comprehensive benchmark for clients to understand their gemstones. The Gübelin Gemstone Rating can be applied to the major types of high-value coloured gemstones.

  • Services: Gübelin Gem Lab provides rating services for diamonds, coloured gemstones, pearls and jade. For coloured gemstones, Only natural (i.e. non-synthetic) and transparent gemstones that are either faceted or polished qualify for the rating system. Gemstones in scope include ruby, emerald, sapphire, spinel, etc. Gemstones that have been subjected to common treatments (e.g. traditional heating, clarity enhancement) can also be rated.

  • Report: Reports issued by the Hong Kong branch are in English. A translated copy in Chinese or Japanese can be provided at an additional cost of HK$200.

Sample of a Gübelin Gemstone Rating Report.

Image credit: Gübelin Gem Lab

  • Price range: Gemstone rating service for coloured gemstones range from HK$2,000 (0.99 carats or less, without origin) to HK$20,000 (50 carats and above, with origin). Click here for the full price list of Gübelin Hong Kong.

  • Turnaround time: Subject to quotation.

Gemological Institute of America (GIA)

Needless to say, GIA is the most renowned and internationally acclaimed authority for diamond verification and grading. Apart from its knowledge in natural diamonds for which GIA is the most known for, the institute also provides coloured stone grading services. 5 out of GIA’s 10 labs across the globe offer on-site services for coloured stones, including the Hong Kong lab.

  • Services: GIA Colored Stone Reports describe the type of gemstone, such as whether the stone is natural or laboratory-grown, and if there are any detectable treatments. Both loose or mounted gemstones can be submitted for identification.

  • Report:

    • The ‘Colored Stone Identification Report’ contains a detailed description of the gemstone such as cutting style, shape, weight, measurement, and colour, and includes a photograph of the gemstone. Items weighing over 50 kilograms are not accepted for submission.

    • The ‘Colored Stone Identification & Origin Report’ includes all information provided on the Identification Report plus the geographic origin of the stone, if determinable. This report is available for ruby, sapphire, emerald, Paraíba tourmaline, red spinel and alexandrite only.

Sample of a GIA Colored Stone Identification & Origin Report.

Image credit: GIA

  • Price range: Fees vary for different types of coloured stones, ranging from HK$545 (1.99 carats or less, Identification Report only) to HK$6,240 (50 carats and above, Identification & Origin Report). Click here to view the full fee schedule. For mounted items, the gross weight will be measured in grams and carat weight will be approximated to determine the appropriate fee. All fees are charged in the currency of the location where the item is submitted for service.

  • Turnaround time:.Currently, with some of the GIA laboratories operating with limited capacity due to the pandemic, return dates can take up to 1 month after submission of the gem for the Hong Kong lab. The estimated return dates can be checked through this system:

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Feel free to get in touch with Laine Jewellery for recommendations and advice on diamonds or customised rings! I offer free consultation services every Friday at my studio at Two ifc, bookings required. Interested parties please make a reservation through Whatsapp or Laine Jewellery’s Facebook page!

Whatsapp: +852 6819 2038


Elaine 💌


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