Curious about the authenticity of diamond certification?
Look no further!
Within this comprehensive Twirl Weddings guide, I will evaluate various diamond evaluation laboratories while addressing inquiries such as:
- Why does diamond certification hold significance?
- Which grading report stands out as the finest?
- Is it imperative for lab-grown diamonds to acquire certification?
Have You Ever Pondered the Concept of Diamond Certification?
It astounds me to witness the lack of awareness among diamond engagement ring owners regarding the existence of diamond certifications and grading reports.
However, allow me to divulge a hidden truth.
Even numerous traditional retailers choose to withhold this vital information from their customers. In my personal experience as a former employee at Kay, only a meager 15 out of 120 diamond rings were accompanied by certification.
My supervisor claimed that certification was not essential, but insisted on promoting them due to their higher price. However, she never truly elucidated the purpose or nature of these certifications.
My knowledge of diamond certifications only developed later on. It was only after my departure from the retail industry that I truly acquired extensive knowledge about gemstones.
Establishments such as Kay and Zales prioritize achieving sales targets over providing genuine education about diamonds. Their employees themselves lack a deep understanding of the subject, so it’s unlikely they would pass on such information to customers.
Fortunately, I am here to bridge that gap.
When you decide to purchase a certified diamond, you will receive a diamond certificate or grading report, either in digital or printed format.
Diamond certificates originate from various gemological laboratories within the jewelry industry. While certain nuances may exist across different labs, they generally provide the same essential information.
Typically, a standard diamond certificate provides the following details regarding your loose diamond:
- Shape of the diamond
- Grade of the diamond’s cut
- Grade of the diamond’s color
- Grade of the diamond’s clarity
- Carat weight
- Polish quality
- Symmetry quality
- Presence of fluorescence
- Treatments undergone by the diamond
- Diamond plot (a visual representation of the diamond’s inclusions)
- Grading scales used
- Laser inscription, if present
In the case of lab-grown diamonds, the accompanying report might specify the specific production method employed.
Are Certified Diamonds Essential?
Are you contemplating the necessity of possessing certified diamonds? In the end, they do carry a higher price tag compared to uncertified counterparts. Let’s face the truth, diamonds already impose a substantial financial burden.
Not every diamond under your ownership requires certification. Typically, only loose diamonds or solitaire engagement rings warrant the inclusion of certified diamonds. Pave diamonds, melee diamonds, and side diamonds do not mandate certification.
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In the case of a cluster center, your diamond shall arrive devoid of a grading report. Cluster settings comprise of small diamonds meticulously arranged in close proximity, creating the optical illusion of a singular stone when observed from a distance.
Allow me to elucidate the rationale behind the merit of acquiring diamonds accompanied by certification.
The Value Assurance of a Certified Diamond
Prior to making a diamond purchase, it is imperative to acquire a fundamental comprehension of diamond quality. The cost of a natural diamond is contingent upon its quality and grading.
For certain individuals, procuring a diamond is an intricate procedure, while for others, it may lack due diligence. Numerous individuals resort to their nearby mall jeweler and unknowingly obtain a diamond ring without possessing any substantial knowledge about it.
Nevertheless, for the sake of discussion, let us assume that you have conducted thorough research and are well-versed in the 4Cs. You have carefully selected a 1-carat diamond with superior clarity and color grades.
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Imagine the sense of disappointment that would engulf you upon presenting that very diamond to a renowned expert, only to discover that the grades of the diamond fall short of your initial expectations. In fact, they are a mere 1-2 levels below what you believed you were investing in.
Undoubtedly, such an experience would leave you feeling deceived and taken advantage of, wouldn’t it?
However, fret not, for diamond certification stands as a guarantee that the diamond you are purchasing aligns precisely with the grades documented in the report provided by the esteemed grading laboratory.
Diverse Standards Abound in Diamond Certifications
It is essential to acknowledge that not all diamond certifications are created equal.
The Importance of Choosing the Right Diamond Certification Authority
Merely possessing a diamond certification is insufficient. What truly matters is selecting the appropriate diamond certifying authority for your precious gem. This comprehensive guide presents the most prevalent reports found within the industry.
However, it is crucial to recognize that the presence of these reports does not automatically guarantee their credibility.
The paramount factor to consider when evaluating a grading laboratory is the consistency of their grading practices. Diamond grading is an inherently imprecise discipline, as explicitly acknowledged in all reports through disclaimers.
Even individuals with extensive training in diamond grading can perceive certain characteristics differently due to variances in visual acuity. A yellow tint, for instance, may be more apparent to one person than another. Consequently, errors can occur, or a consensus must be reached by a team to establish a general grade.
Of particular significance is the frequency at which such inconsistencies arise within a specific authority’s grading process. Online accounts abound of individuals conducting experiments to test the stringency of grading across various labs. Discrepancies emerge, with some authorities consistently assigning lower grades than others. There have even been instances where the same diamond was graded twice by a single authority, resulting in divergent assessments.
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Different Types of Diamond Certification
The Gemological Institute of America stands as the foremost authority globally when it comes to diamonds and exquisite jewelry. Their unrivaled expertise in gemstones and their commitment to disseminating research findings set them apart.
Opting for the GIA for diamond certification proves advantageous due to their impartiality, devoid of any affiliations with specific retailers. Numerous brands offer diamonds certified by the GIA, showcasing their wide acceptance.
Renowned for their stringent evaluation criteria, this grading laboratory holds an esteemed reputation in diamond grading. Each diamond undergoes scrutiny by multiple GIA gemologists within the organization, who meticulously match it with a master pair of graded diamonds.
GIA diamonds are distinguished by the presence of a unique report number discreetly inscribed on the diamond’s girdle, ensuring their authenticity. Notably, the GIA designates the cut grade as “Excellent Cut” instead of “Ideal Cut,” with round diamonds exclusively receiving a cut grade, while retailers categorize fancy shapes differently.
The American Gem Society (AGS) emerges as a well-regarded assessment laboratory, serving as an alternative to GIA certification, albeit with lesser prevalence.
Notably, AGS diamonds predominantly focus on grading round diamonds, setting them apart. Their distinctiveness lies in the peculiarities of their cut grading system. Unlike other labs on this roster that employ the traditional grading scale of “Excellent,” “Very Good,” “Good,” and so forth, AGS follows a unique approach.
AGS evaluates the cut of diamonds on a scale of 0 to 9, with 0 representing the pinnacle of excellence. Rather than designating diamonds as “Excellent Cut,” AGS assigns the prestigious title of “AGS 0 Ideal” to signify the highest caliber.
Choosing the American Gem Society as the source of diamond certification ensures reliability and instills trust. Although relatively less prevalent, AGS certificates may require more effort to locate compared to other available options.
The International Gemological Institute (IGI) stands out as a highly sought-after certification for diamonds available in online platforms. While previously renowned as the premier independent laboratory catering to physical jewelry stores, their influence has significantly expanded in the online realm.
Retailers opt for IGI certified diamonds due to the expediency and favorable pricing they offer. Local chain stores like Jared and Kays prioritize bulk prices over individual standards, making IGI certifications an attractive choice.
Considering the abundance of IGI diamonds in the market, one might assume they possess unwavering reliability. However, this assumption does not hold true, at least not for natural diamonds. While the grading reports for lab-grown diamonds from IGI maintain a satisfactory level, the consistency in grading for naturally occurring diamonds proves to be unreliable.
The European Gemological Laboratory (EGL), primarily situated in Europe but with a global presence, fails to exhibit the expected level of reliability despite its assertions.
Evidently, there exist significant disparities in the assigned color and clarity grades, introducing a marked inconsistency. It must be acknowledged that assessing these attributes with objectivity poses considerable challenges. Through extensive evaluation, it has been observed that EGL certificates tend to assign grades one to three levels lower than those assigned by the GIA.
Initially, individuals may find themselves enticed by EGL certificates due to their perception of being a lucrative option compared to other diamond certifications. While they may appear more affordable at first glance, one runs the risk of paying excessively for diamonds of inferior quality.
The High Diamond Council, known as Hoge Raad voor Diamant (HRD), represents a prominent grading laboratory in Europe, headquartered in Antwerp, Belgium.
While proclaiming global recognition for their diamond grading, this grading lab is relatively less prevalent beyond the borders of Europe. It is uncommon to come across an HRD report in retail stores.
Curiously, it has been suggested that HRD certified diamonds can sometimes be more expensive compared to those certified by GIA, which in itself acts as a deterrent for many prospective buyers.
Individuals familiar with other grading reports may encounter some confusion when examining an HRD report for a diamond with I clarity. This is due to HRD utilizing a distinct terminology for I clarity grades, referred to as P1, P2, and P3. The letter P denotes “pique,” essentially representing the same clarity levels as I1, I2, and I3.
Previously, I mentioned that IGI held a prominent position as the leading grading laboratory for mall chain retailers. However, their selective approach in providing graded diamonds opened up an opportunity for Gem Science International (GSI) to claim that position.
In contrast to IGI, GSI is a relatively new establishment, founded in 2005. It stands as the sole major grading lab established in this century, exclusively serving retailers such as Jared, Zales, and Kay Jewelers.
It’s noteworthy that GSI certificates accompany some of the finest diamonds available at these stores. For instance, my Tolkowsky engagement ring came with a GSI report, which I have provided below:
Considering this, I am inclined to believe that if I were to have my ring assessed by a different laboratory, the grading results might differ significantly.
Certified Independently by a GIA Gemologist
Encountering engagement rings or diamonds labeled as “independently certified by a GIA Gemologist” may require some clarification, as the wording can be intentionally misleading.
The GIA serves as the central hub for diamond and gemstone research, and it also functions as a renowned institution for educating individuals about gems and minerals. Their most prestigious program is the Graduate Gemologist program, which represents the highest level of accomplishment in the jewelry industry.
Attaining the diploma necessitates successfully passing a comprehensive diamond grading exam. However, it’s crucial to note that the diamond grading aspect is just a fraction of the complete program. Not all GIA graduates specialize in diamond grading.
Therefore, when a retailer explicitly states that their diamonds are certified by a GIA gemologist, it implies that the individual has obtained the aforementioned diploma. However, it does not indicate that they possess certification as a diamond grader. The Graduate Gemologist program offers numerous career paths within the realm of jewelry beyond diamond grading.
When it comes to in-house certification of diamonds, there are typically two possibilities. Firstly, the diamond may possess certification from a GIA gemologist, as previously mentioned. Alternatively, the company itself might generate certificates through the expertise of another knowledgeable staff member.
In the case of lab-grown diamonds, certain production companies also issue their own certificates. One well-known example is Diamond Foundry.
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What Is the Cost of Certified Diamonds?
Determining the value of a certified diamond involves considering factors beyond the diamond itself. When perusing a retailer’s collection, the explicit cost of the diamond certificate is not disclosed separately; instead, it is incorporated into the overall price of the diamond ring.
Alternatively, an option exists to personally send an unmounted diamond directly to a grading laboratory for certification. Additionally, certain establishments offer the service of inscribing a diamond if it lacks an existing inscription.
It’s important to note that each grading authority has its own unique fee structure for certifying diamonds. While some authorities may openly display their fees on their website, others may require individuals to make inquiries to obtain the specific information.
Which Diamond Certificate Is Considered the Most Superior?
In my opinion, the GIA grading report stands out as the most exceptional diamond assessment lab. It comes as no surprise given their position as the dominant force in the diamond industry.
Nonetheless, the AGS diamond certificates also hold their credibility. However, they are relatively harder to come by, as many diamond vendors exclusively offer GIA and AGS certified diamonds.
Furthermore, I advocate for GIA’s preference due to the convenience it offers for reselling or upgrading across different retailers. Some establishments solely entertain diamonds with GIA certificates for repurchase.
To illustrate, if I were to capitalize on Blue Nile’s collaboration with CIRCA to sell my diamond, obtaining a GIA certification would be a prerequisite. Although it is achievable, it can be quite cumbersome. Having the finest grading report already would facilitate the process in an instant.
When it comes to purchasing diamonds, there exists a vast array of knowledge that one must acquire. Furthermore, akin to the grading of your diamonds, the certification of these precious gems holds significant importance. By obtaining a comprehensive grading report or certification, you can ascertain the utmost accuracy in the grades you are selecting.
To guarantee that your diamond possesses the most precise grading, it is advisable to seek certifications from renowned institutions such as the Gemological Institute of America and the American Gem Society.
Having said that, it is important to note that these recommended certifications pertain specifically to natural diamonds. For laboratory-grown diamonds, there exist distinct approved certifications.
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