Curious about certifications for lab-grown diamonds?
You’ve come to the correct spot.
Within this informative Twirl Weddings guide, I will address these inquiries and beyond:
- What exactly is a certification for diamonds?
- Is it necessary to obtain a grading report for lab-grown diamonds?
- Which certification is considered the finest for lab-grown diamonds?
- What are the available certification laboratories for lab-grown diamonds?
What is a Diamond Certification?
A diamond certificate is an official document that accompanies a loose diamond or diamond engagement ring. This document is provided by a gemological laboratory within the jewelry industry. Such certifications play a crucial role for online diamond stores striving to be recognized as the top-rated ones according to our reviews.
These certificates are sometimes referred to as diamond grading reports.
Certificates provide diamond buyers with information about how the diamond has been evaluated based on the 4Cs of Diamond Quality: Diamond Cut, Diamond Clarity, Diamond Color, and Diamond Carat Weight. The 4Cs were established by the Gemological Institute of America.
Although specific details may vary between different laboratories, most grading reports follow a similar structure.
A standard diamond certification or grading report typically includes the following information:
- Diamond Shape
- Cut Grade
- Color Grade
- Clarity Grade
- Carat Weight
- Diamond Plot
- Grading Scales
- Laser Inscription
In the case of lab-grown diamonds, a certification may also indicate the specific creation process used to produce the diamond.
It is important to remember that a lab-grown diamond is a genuine diamond.
RECOMMENDED: Where to Buy Lab Grown Diamonds
Is a Certificate Necessary for Lab-Grown Diamonds?
You might be thinking, why is a lab-grown diamond certificate necessary in the first place?
After all, most well-known physical jewelry stores don’t provide grading reports with their top diamond engagement rings.
During my time at Kay Jewelers, there were only six certified GIA diamonds in their unbranded Now and Forever Collection, while the remaining eight were part of the Tolkowsky and Leo collections.
By the way, that case had over 85 options for engagement rings!
Back then, I wasn’t even aware of how important diamond certificates were because we didn’t have many of them. We were only trained to highlight the positive aspects.
However, the truth is that a lab-grown diamond certificate is crucial, especially when purchasing a lab-grown diamond with high grades.
Essentially, a diamond grading report ensures that you are getting exactly what you paid for.
Let me explain further.
If you spent $9,000 on a 2-carat lab-grown diamond with VVS1 clarity, ideal cut, and E color grading, you want assurance that your diamond is not of lower quality.
By the way, if you’re unsure about what VVS1 means, you might find our article explaining VVS diamonds helpful.
This is where buying certified lab-grown diamonds from a reputable authority becomes important. Anyone can claim to know how to grade diamonds, but reputation is key.
Some people have bought diamonds that were graded by multiple authorities, only to discover that the same diamond received different grades from each one.
Imagine finding out that the diamond you paid for is graded lower than what you were promised by a more trustworthy laboratory.
How frustrated would you feel?
I would be pretty upset. Let’s delve deeper into this matter…
Are All Lab-Grown Diamond Certificates Identical?
Not all diamond certifications are created equal. While they may contain similar information, they do not adhere to the same standards.
When it comes to natural diamonds, we recommend obtaining grading reports specifically from the GIA or AGS laboratories.
Each gem grading laboratory follows its own set of standards when evaluating a loose diamond. Some popular jewelry stores may provide grading reports from less expensive labs that assess diamonds in large quantities.
RECOMMENDED: Best Diamond Certification
Kay Jewelers and Zales are known for using GSI grading reports for both natural and lab-grown diamonds.
Apart from varying standards, certain lab-grown diamond certifications may lack in detail. Until recently, GIA diamond certifications were not considered the most preferred grading reports for lab-grown diamonds.
The GIA primarily focused on being the leading certifying lab for natural diamonds. While they did grade lab-grown diamonds, the information provided was not as comprehensive as what you would find in an IGI lab-grown diamond certification.
Different Grading Labs for Lab Grown Diamond Certification
GIA Lab Grown Diamonds
The GIA is renowned worldwide as the leading authority on diamonds and gemstones, and they also offer diamond certifications.
Previously, GIA’s lab-grown diamond reports lacked in-depth information prior to 2020. They did not provide specific details about the diamond.
Earlier, a GIA lab-grown diamond certification did not indicate the method used to create the diamond. Lab-grown diamonds are typically produced through the CVD process or the HPHT process.
RECOMMENDED: How Are Lab Grown Diamonds Made?
Both methods can create high-quality lab-grown diamonds. However, certain optical features like a bluish hue or a slight brownish tint may influence a buyer’s decision.
In 2020, the GIA revamped their lab-grown diamond grading reports to include previously missing details. Since this is a recent development, there aren’t many retailers that offer GIA-certified lab-grown diamonds.
RECOMMENDED: Where to Buy GIA Certified Diamonds Online
IGI Lab Grown Diamonds
The International Gemological Institute (IGI) is a widely recognized authority for certifying diamonds. When shopping, you are more likely to encounter diamonds with IGI certifications online rather than in physical stores.
IGI-certified lab-grown diamonds are the most commonly found. While IGI grading reports for natural diamonds may not meet the highest standard, their lab-grown diamond certificates are highly regarded.
They are considered the top choice for grading lab-grown diamonds. However, this was the case before the GIA made updates to their certifications.
Now, these two certifications are on par with each other as the leading options for lab-grown diamond certifications. They are frequently recommended. Nonetheless, it is worth noting that IGI lab-grown diamonds are more readily available compared to the new lab-grown diamond certificates from GIA.
AGS Lab Grown Diamonds
The grading certificates from the American Gem Society (AGS) are considered equivalent to a GIA grading report in terms of standard. They are the only other grading reports we recommend for natural diamonds.
While the AGS laboratory does provide certificates for lab-grown diamonds, they can be quite challenging to find. Most online retailers offer lab-grown diamonds with certificates from other grading labs.
The main difference between a GIA diamond certificate and an AGS diamond certificate lies in the diamond cut grade for round shapes. You may have come across terms like “ideal cut diamond” or even “super ideal cut diamond.”
Some retailers differentiate between an “Ideal Cut” labeled diamond and an “Excellent Cut” diamond. You might purchase a diamond labeled as “ideal cut,” but the GIA report states “Excellent Cut.”
These two terms are essentially the same, but AGS officially uses the term “ideal.” They have patented the Ideal Triple 000. AGS grades diamonds using a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 is the best as it indicates zero inclusions.
RECOMMENDED: Types of Diamond Inclusions
However, the diamond industry acknowledges that the AGS Triple 0 Ideal is of equal quality to a GIA Excellent Cut diamond.
GCAL Lab Grown Diamonds
The Gem Certificate and Assurance Lab (GCAL) is another trustworthy authority that provides certification reports for lab-grown diamonds. Many of the recommended retailers for lab-grown diamonds carry GCAL certificates.
Compared to the aforementioned labs, GCAL is relatively newer, having been established in 2001. They are headquartered in New York City’s Diamond District.
During discussions with members of the International Gem Society community, I discovered that many of them also recommend GCAL along with GIA and IGI lab-grown diamond certificates.
What sets GCAL certificates apart from other lab-grown diamond certificates is the inclusion of what they refer to as an optical brilliance analysis and an optical symmetry analysis.
These analyses are similar to ASET and Idealscope images used by Whiteflash for their diamonds. They allow you to visualize how light enters and exits the diamond, identifying any light leakage. It also reveals the precision of the diamond’s proportions by forming a star-shaped pattern.
While not essential when purchasing a lab-grown diamond, some people opt for GCAL because they appreciate the additional details. You can also obtain ASET and Idealscope images for any center diamond.
HRD Lab Grown Diamonds
The HRD Antwerp grading certificate is a prominent diamond grading report in Europe. HRD stands for Hoge Raad voor Diamant, which translates to The High Diamond Council and is based in Antwerp, Belgium.
While they claim to be the best diamond grading lab globally, they are not highly regarded in the United States or the Western world. Moreover, many HRD lab-grown diamonds with the same grades as GIA certified diamonds often turn out to be more expensive.
I do not recommend purchasing HRD certificates, whether you are looking for a lab-grown diamond or a mined diamond.
This advice also applies to those of you residing in Europe. While HRD certificates are readily available in your region, I suggest opting for one of the other mentioned lab grading certificates.
Instead of using the clarity grades I1, I2, and I3, an HRD certificate will display P1, P2, and P3 for “pique.” This terminology differs, but it represents the same clarity grades as I.
Diamond Foundry Lab Diamonds
Unlike other grading reports, Diamond Foundry takes charge of grading and producing their own man-made diamonds. They recently acquired the popular lab diamond company called VRAI.
They have replaced IGI certification on their website with their own certificates. These Diamond Foundry grading certificates are created by a team of GIA gemologists who are certified in diamond grading. It’s important to note that these are not GIA certificates.
Diamond Foundry asserts that their team of GIA gemologists is certified in diamond grading.
I have a few concerns about Diamond Foundry lab diamonds. Firstly, they are challenging to find since they have limited partnerships. This is mainly because they encourage customers to make direct purchases from their website.
Since it is a branded diamond certification, they can also charge higher prices, which some customers find problematic.
Lastly, many people have noticed that Diamond Foundry lab diamonds tend to have lower color grades compared to others. It might be difficult to find a lab diamond with a color grade better than G, which could be an issue for some individuals.
Personally, I do not recommend Diamond Foundry lab diamonds because there are better grading authorities that are not driven by branded pricing. However, if you want to explore their diamonds, our friends at Brilliant Earth will have some available.
GSI Lab Grown Diamonds
GSI (Gemological Science International) is known for grading diamonds that are commonly found in well-known local retailers such as Kay, Zales, and Jared. While their GSI diamonds are primarily mined diamonds, they have recently started including lab diamonds in their inventory.
I do not recommend purchasing GSI diamonds either. My Tolkowsky engagement ring from Kay is graded by GSI, which holds little value in the jewelry industry when it comes to resale.
GSI was primarily established to cater to the needs of large retailers, allowing them to certify diamonds in large quantities at an affordable price. Their focus is more on quantity rather than maintaining strict quality standards. It’s about obtaining diamonds for the retailers at a lower cost without spending too much money.
What Is The Best Lab Diamond Certification?
The leading laboratories for certifying synthetic diamond gems are:
- Lab Diamonds Certified by GIA
- Lab Diamonds Certified by AGS
- Lab Diamonds Certified by IGI
- Lab Diamonds Certified by GCAL