Diamonds have inflamed man's passions since the first moment at which they were discovered, and their power over emotions and desires has only grown since then. As a timeless and beautiful gift to yourself or as an emblem of your commitment to another, a diamond is an excellent investment.
However, all diamonds are not equal. When purchasing a diamond, it is important to consider its cut, clarity, color, and carat weight. These factors affect not only the appearance and quality of a diamond, but also its price.
Diamond grading covers numerous aspects of each individual diamond's qualities. Quality assessments regarding grading are made by independent gemologists’ labs, such as GIA or AGS, and are recognized worldwide. The diamond is evaluated, measured, and scrutinized using trained eyes, a jeweler’s loupe, a microscope, and other industry tools, and these labs provide each diamond they examine with a report or “certificate”.
A certificate is a "blueprint" of a diamond, and tells you the diamond's exact measurements and weight, as well as the details of its clarity, color, polish, symmetry, cut and quality. It precisely points out all the individual characteristics of the stone. Certificates also serve as proof of the diamond's identity and value.
A certificate is not the same thing as an appraisal. A certificate describes the quality of a diamond, but it does not place a monetary value on the gem. An appraisal places a monetary value on your diamond, but does not certify the quality of the diamond.
Before purchasing a diamond, you should expect to review a copy of its certificate as proof that it has undergone an unbiased, professional examination.
A certified diamond comes with a diamond grading report guaranteed by an accredited gem lab. This report assures the customer that the diamond is independently recognized as possessing all the qualities specified by that report. When you buy a certified diamond, you are getting a diamond with beauty and pedigree. You have tangible, legal assurances as to the particular nature and quality of the diamond you are purchasing.
An uncertified diamond is not accompanied by a diamond grading report, and therefore its stated quality is based only on the word of the seller. It is not necessarily a bad diamond; certainly, it can be as beautiful as its certified counterpart.
However, we encourage our customers to buy certified diamonds for the following reasons:
- Shopping for certified diamonds allows you to make an informed choice about your selections, and to comparison shop. You can compare one diamond with a particular weight and quality with other diamonds of similar weight and quality to determine which the better value is. With uncertified diamonds, it is difficult to determine whether the quality assessments of one jeweler will be as stringent and precise as the judgments of other jewelers; that is, not all jewelers may agree about the quality of an uncertified diamond.
- A diamond grading report adds an increased comfort-level to your purchase. Because the quality of your purchase has been independently verified, you can feel assured that you have made a wise purchase and that you have received exactly what you have paid for
- The quality assessments in a certificate are used by appraisers to determine the insurance or replacement value of your diamond. If you purchase an uncertified diamond, there is no guarantee that the appraiser will value your diamond at the same level at which the jeweler who sold it to you did.
How do reports from various independent labs compare with one another?
Acquaint yourself with gemological labs before purchasing your diamond. Lab reputations may vary and change over time. Popular labs that certify diamonds and gemstones include:
- Gemological Institute of America (GIA): Many in the diamond industry consider GIA the gold standard of diamond graders.GIA grading reports have been considered to be a hallmark of integrity throughout the diamond world. Established in 1931, the not-for-profit GIA has its headquarters in Carlsbad, California and has a presence in a number of locations worldwide.
- International Gemological Institute (IGI): IGI grades diamonds and gemstones from its headquarters in New York and several other U.S. locations.
- American Gem Society Laboratories (AGSL): Founded in 1978, the AGSL is based in Las Vegas, Nevada.
- European Gemological Laboratory USA (EGL-US): There are a few independently owned grading labs that carry the EGL name. EGL-US certificates. EGL-US has been independently owned since 1986, and is based in New York.
- HRD (Hoge Raad voor Diamant) : An HRD Antwerp certificate represents the hallmark of authentic European quality and allows any consumer to purchase diamonds or jewellery in full confidence.
These are considered the industry leaders, and the final word on gem quality, among diamond dealers worldwide. They are known for their consistency and unbiased diamond grading systems. Diamonds that are accompanied by these grading reports are the most highly valued in the industry.
While plenty of other independent labs exist, some are a bit lax in their assessments of diamond quality and do not command the same respect for consistency and quality of grading that GIA and AGS do.