Power Women – an interview with Debbie Azar of GSI



Much of the talk among retailers of lab-grown diamonds (LGD) centers on value for money—the fact that consumers are able to get bigger lab-grown diamonds at lower prices than their mined counterparts. But Ben Hakman, managing director of Fire Diamonds, a company that specializes in designing unique diamond cuts using cutting-edge laser sawing and laser marking technologies, thinks the industry has it all wrong.

“There’s a consumer who wants lab-grown diamonds, and it has nothing to do with natural,” he tells JCK. “They’re interested in getting diamonds that are not available in natural.”

“I have been designing diamond cuts for 20 years, but until LGD we had no control over the diamond size and color,” Hakman says.

Fire Diamonds cannabis diamond

Fire Diamonds’ 8.96 ct. vivid green lab-grown diamond shaped like a cannabis leaf

As growers begin to experiment with size, coloration, and cutting techniques, the universe of lab-grown diamonds in fanciful shapes and colors is expanding. Debbie Azar, president of Gemological Science International, says the nature of the CVD process, in which diamonds are grown on flat wafer seed crystals, lends itself to bolder, more experimental designs.

“We’re seeing CVD diamonds in increasingly artistic shapes because laser cutting has advanced what diamond cutters can do, and laboratory-grown material is less risky to experiment with because of the cost factor,” she says.

“When it comes to color, there are no limits!” Azar adds. “Diamond growers are tapped into the science of diamond color and can create whatever color they’d like based on the impurities they add, as well as any post-growth treatments such as irradiation, HPHT processing, and annealing. We have even seen laboratory-grown diamonds that have been intentionally color-zoned to give an ‘ombre-like’ effect!”


Fire Diamonds red cross lab-grown diamond

Fire Diamonds’ 10.16 ct. orangey-red cross-shape lab-grown diamond


Hakman, an industry veteran who crossed over from natural diamonds into the lab-grown category about seven years ago, said even more than creating rare cuts, his focus is on creating high-quality, unique colors, and on “giving the consumer value and an experience they couldn’t have had before, because in the past 20 years anything that was color enhanced was really bad quality.”

“What we’re doing is only the beginning,” he added.

Debbie Azar is the president and co-founder of GSI.
Article from JCK – March 2022.

About GSI:

Gemological Science International (GSI) is the only major gemological organization established in the 21st century. Founded in 2005 in New York City, it has grown to become one of the largest gemological entities in the world with laboratory facilities spanning four continents. Utilizing cutting-edge processes and proprietary technologies, along with a commitment to the highest ethical standards and practices, GSI provides manufacturers and retailers globally with a wide range of gemstone identification and grading services. The company is committed to advancing gemological research and offers gemological educational programs for trade professionals and the general public through its state-of-the-art research center.

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Where is Gemological Science International (GSI) located?

GSI is headquartered in New York, NY. It has 13 laboratories on four continents and in a number of countries: the United States, India, Dubai, Israel, Belgium, Hong Kong, and Botswana. This makes GSI one of the largest independent gemological organizations in the world.

Is there a difference between grading reports issued by different GSI laboratories?

All GSI laboratories grade using the same methods and adhere to the same standards. Every laboratory is staffed with highly trained professionals who have years of grading experience and an extensive gemological background.

What does it mean when a sales associate tells me my diamond is “GSI Certified” or is accompanied by a “GSI Certificate”?

The phrases “GSI Certificate” and “GSI Certified” are industry shorthand for GSI grading or identification reports. What this means to you is that expert gemologists and trained professionals meticulously evaluated the item. When your diamond, jewelry or gemstone is accompanied by a GSI grading report, you can be completely confident in the accuracy and objectivity of the evaluation.

Where can I find “GSI Certified Diamonds”?

GSI diamond grading and identification reports can be found in jewelry stores worldwide and online. Insist on a GSI grading report when shopping for a diamond, jewelry or gemstone.

What do I do if I lose my GSI Diamond Report?

Every GSI grading report is available on our website. Please visit gemscience.net and go to “verify your report”. Enter your GSI report number and you’ll instantly have access to a digital copy of it. You can also email us through the website to request a copy.

What are the 4Cs

A beautiful diamond is one of nature’s most mesmerizing creations. But how do you objectively judge the quality of the gem? The 4Cs – Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat Weight – are the universal standard for doing this.

Is there anything beyond the 4Cs?

The 4Cs are an essential and important description of a diamond’s characteristics. But there is a considerable amount of detailed information behind each “C” along with other qualities of a diamond that affect its beauty, such as fluorescence, light performance and more.

How much do you need to know? That’s up to you, but knowing the 4Cs is almost essential.

What does a GSI diamond grading report look like?

GSI offers a number of grading reports (often referred to as “GSI Certificates”). You can see samples of them by browsing the Grading Reports page on our website.

What does a GSI colored diamond grading report look like?

You can see samples grading reports by browsing the Grading Reports page on our website.

What does a GSI Colored stone report look like?

You can see samples of Colored stones reports by browsing Grading Reports page on our website.

How does a GSI grading report compare to other laboratories that issue grading reports?

It is our policy not to comment on other laboratories. However, know that GSI adheres to the highest ethical standards. We do this in a number of ways:

  • Rotating gemologists to our different labs
  • Continuously upgrading our proprietary grading software to ensure full compliance with international grading standards
  • Having our gemological research department constantly investigate new developments in the industry, which informs the grading process

What’s the difference between a “GSI Certificate” and a “GSI Diamond Grading Report”?

GSI issues a variety of grading and identification reports. Consumers and industry professionals often call these reports “GSI Certificates”.

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