We explain how diamonds are graded & the certifying agencies.
When it comes to diamonds, there’s a lot to take in. From the 4C’s, to the price, to the shape, there’s a lot to consider. However, when looking at a diamond, many of our customers have asked who’s grading it? Is it our staff? Is it regulated by the government, or some other agency?
Simply put, our customers want to know that if they buy a diamond with certain criteria, are those criteria legitimate, and who decided them in the first place?
When it comes to large diamonds, generally anything over a half a carat, is considered somewhat of a commodity in the jewelry business. In fact, the prices for diamonds are just about solely based on the color, clarity, and shape. This means, that those “statistics” if you will, need to be as accurate as humanly possible!
When you’re looking at a diamond, the mere existence of a certification is better than no certification, but are all certifications equal?
The answer is simply no. Here’s a quote from a fellow jewelry company on the very subject:
“As a general rule, an EGL certified diamond will compare equally in quality to a GIA certified diamond that is graded two color grades and one clarity grade lower. … Due to the discrepancy in the grading standards used, an EGL diamond graded the same color and clarity as a GIA certified diamond will be less expensive.”
Simply put, a GIA certified diamond is graded to a higher standard. If the GIA were a car, it would be a Rolls Royce or a Ferrari. It’s the cream of the crop when it comes to certifications, and is without a doubt the most sought after certification for diamonds. In fact, most jewelers know the accuracy of a GIA Certificate, and are usually leery of anything else.
Additionally, more and more consumers are asking specifically for a “GIA” stones, and do not want to look at something else. This is a classic case of an educated consumer base demanding the best. If you’d like to see what a GIA report entails, check out our Buy A Diamond page, select a diamond that interests you, and you’ll have the option of viewing the information found on the GIA report for that very diamond.
For those that don’t know, GIA stands for Gemological Institute of America, an almost 80-year-old independent, non-profit that is known for their thorough and precise measurements of gems, including diamonds.
Their main competitors are the EGL mentioned above (European Gemological Laboratory, a for-profit organization from Europe) and the IGI (International Gemological Institute, another European organization) are both known for certifications that can be inconsistent, variable, and misleading.
In a comparison study between the various organizations, this was said about the IGI:
“IGI bills itself as a top-of-the-line laboratory, but in our opinion sadly that is not the case. While they may not be as terrible as some of the others, we feel that their grading is definitely more lax and less consistent than the standard bearers in the industry.”
This is the case because there are IGI laboratories all over the planet, meaning there is inconsistences across the distance between the labs. A diamond certified in Europe would most likely have different certifications in Asia or North America. This means that when you buy your diamond, you can’t be exactly sure what you’re getting.
Even the largest jewelry insurance underwriter writes:
“The most reliable diamond certificates (also called diamond reports) come from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the American Gem Society (AGS). These are the most respected labs, known for their accuracy and professionalism. These reports are not appraisals and do not carry valuations. Certificates from any other sources are often questionable and should not be relied upon by insurers.”
This is what the industry is saying, so the customer needs to hear it too. Accuracy is all you are looking for in a “lab” report.
If you are thinking about buying a diamond because you ran into a good deal on a non-certified stone, RUN. That usually means you are not paying the $ for a certificate, and you trust who is in front of you to give you a good solid price based upon who knows what information.
Some jewelers do buy diamonds from their customers (like we do) and may have a diamond that hasn’t received a grade from GIA yet. In cases like this, either wait for a certification, or put your faith in a trustworthy jeweler.
So, as you can see, the winner throughout is the GIA. A GIA certification is worth its weight in… diamonds?
To learn more about diamond certifications, feel free to visit either of our New Jersey jewelry store locations in Morristown or New Providence to see for yourself and talk to any of our expert jewelers.
If you’d like to talk to someone directly about diamond certifications or just want help finding the perfect diamond, you can contact us online anytime by emailing us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or simply filling out our contact form and we’ll answer your questions quickly.