Among the third-party diamond certification entities popping up in the jewelry market, are the that is gemological labs.
Since the labs are found in many places all around the world, individual diamond grading is common leaving us with the question….
Whose standards are the best?
It is necessary to have report standardizing organizations (such as FDA) since these labs individually produce grading certificates, considered legitimate.
As a result of the absence of such organizations, shady labs have the opportunity to thrive.
However, great gem labs do exist. If you are looking to find a diamond worthy of the price, then move away from the poor grading reports. To help you make this decision, I wrote a page on gemological labs, giving an outline of the best labs, and reasons for focusing on them.
Here, I’ll outline some dubious gemology labs and reasons to stay away from them.
Importance of Diamond Grading
Grading diamonds is different from hallmarking. Rather than valuing a stone by equating it only to its content, here, value is arrived at by considering the diamond’s optical and physical properties.
Unfortunately, no lab is singled out to have the star standards when it comes to measurement. Getting away with cheap shoddy reports is common from suspicious labs. Not only are the values indicated suspiciously but the reports are also inconsistent. Disappointing!
A common product for EGL is inconsistently graded stones. At times, this mistake goes up to 3 levels. One mistake done during diamond grading is very costly. So, to save you money, identify these shoddy labs from afar.
Credible entities such as GIA have rigorous grading systems. Their staff is equally experienced. You will likely get a more precise certificate from GIA than from EGL.
Which Diamond Certification is Best?
Can You Trust International Gemological Institute (IGI)?
Certifying prime jewelry stores in the USA and Canada gained the good reputation IGI has today. It is now a widely known brand with its fast turnarounds. In addition to this, its certificates are way cheaper. Impressive right? However, this institute uses a restrained approach for its grading resulting in some inaccurate results. This happens even with the prime stores s clients.
You deserve quality diamonds for your money even after you bargain. Hence, go for certified diamonds from trusted entities like GIA and AGS. IGI always has several inconsistent and questionable grades in their specification. One red flag to watch out for at IGI is the unrealistic discounts.
Can You Trust European Gemological Society (EGL)?
Another questionable gemological lab is EGL(European Gemological Society). It has a branch in the USA that produces most of the diamond certificates in the USA. This lab is known for several cases of inconsistencies and over-grading diamonds. Retailers with certified diamonds from EGL commonly sell them at relatively lower prices. The stones with exaggerated grades are often sold to shoppers who have no suspicions.
A good number of customers often realize the great mistake they made when they bought EGL diamonds. A good example is a customer who filed a lawsuit claiming he was robbed several thousand. The client bought diamond cuff lings costing$135,000. In a real sense, the stones’ value was $22,500. Although the carat clarity and weight were similar, there was a great variation in the cut and color. This led to great variance in the pricing.
EGL uses similar terminologies to GIA diamond reports. However, the comparison between these certificates shows a great variance in the values. You would rather purchase a lower graded stone from GIA than these over graded stones in EGL. This lab is very unreliable for anyone looking for good stones.
The most trusted online diamond stores to go to are Blue Nile or James Allen. These online jewelers have diamonds certified by GIA and AGS. Some diamonds with IGI certification at Blue Nile will not miss. Avoid these loose diamonds and focus on AGS/GIA certified diamonds. These are the online stores of choice.
Can You Trust Gemological Science International (GSI)?
As a new player in the diamond and jewelry market, GSI (Gemological Science International) fails to meet the standards set by reliable labs like GIA and AGS. This lab is common in the USA and certifies diamonds from renowned diamond retailers like Zales and Kay.
Even with these big retailers, its grading is lower than the IGI grading. Separate reports are necessary for any reliable lab. GSI does not have any. Instead, it has a tiny card. See the image above. Save yourself the frustration and avoid diamonds graded by this lab. Always stick to credible labs like AGS or GIA.
Can You Trust In-House Certification?
Outsourcing diamond certification from third parties is common in some diamond owners. By the time the diamonds reach the retailers, they are priced according to the grading done. Retailers at times do the grading themselves and offer certificates. This is known as in-house grading. If this is the case, no independent entity that grades the stones. Questionable right?
Since there is no unbiased third party to scrutinize the grading process for in-house certification, the certificates are way dubious. More dubious compared to those from a shoddy gemological lab. Most in-house certifications may focus on the money element than the value. They grade stones depending on how much money they want to make and not their true value.
If the deal is too good, think twice. Companies easily use popular terminologies (VVSI, H-colour, or Super Deal Cut) to cover their flaws and or overvalue the stone. Huge discounts are the other red flags to watch out for. It is best to buy a diamond for its true worth.
When you want to confirm the quality of a diamond stone, do not be too trusting. Any good grading report must assure credibility and accuracy. Now that you know some labs are shoddy and unreliable in their certification, always check the certification issuer. Especially if you are doing online shopping. I suggest considering AGS or GIA as the measure of diamond grading standards and certification. Be extra keen when purchasing diamonds since they are a costly product.
Finding the right vendor helps you avoid such unscrupulous labs and loss of money. A good stop to start your shopping is James Allen jewelers. They have about 200,00 stones well-graded and certified. Common to such vendors are reliable and trustworthy labs and additionally, there is a shipping warranty. You are good to go if the diamond certificate comes from GIA or AGS.