When you hear GIA, you probably think of diamond certification. And just like people use the words “I’m going to Uber” when they refer to a transportation app, that doesn’t mean it’s the only application out there.
The same goes for the gem industry; it’s not exclusive to GIA. While GIA is the most popular and reputable lab, there are a ton of other labs that provide diamond certifications, such as IGI.
So, the question is: Is IGI as good as GIA?
While IGI is well-known, it’s not as big and reputable as GIA. That’s why, in this article, we’ve covered everything you need to know about IGI, so be sure to read it until the end.
Let’s dive in.
What Is Diamond Certification?
Specially trained experts inspect a certified diamond in a highly equipped lab where it’s put through various tests. These tests ultimately determine the quality grades of the stone.
A trusted diamond certification comes from a third party – an independent company that isn’t involved in selling or buying diamonds and with no incentive to overstate or understate the stone’s quality. Or at least that’s how it should be, anyway.
The only purpose is to provide an accurate examination of the diamond and its characteristics.
The gemologists’ findings are listed on the diamond certificate, typically with illustrations that exhibit the proportions of the gemstone and the areas of any blemishes or inclusions. It’s a scientific report that vouches for the diamond’s authenticity and its quality.
Consistency and accuracy are vital components in the diamond certificate; therefore, finding a lab that can deliver these results is crucial.
- How Do I Get My Rough Diamond Certified?
- What Is The Difference Between Certified And Non-certified Diamonds?
The GIA, short for Gemological Institute of America, was founded in 1931 as a non-profit organization dedicated to the research and grading of gemstones.
GIA wanted to come up with a standard so that everyone in the gemstone industry could use one unified method for grading diamonds and other gemstones.
As a result of their hard work and dedication, in 1953, GIA introduced the well-known diamond grading system, often referred to as the 4C’s – cut, clarity, color, and carat. Today this system is a standard used by everyone, including IGI.
Also, GIA trains gemologists, and they also have nine labs, four research centers and operate in 13 different countries.
IGI, which is short for International Gemological Insitute, was established in 1975 in Antwerp. The laboratories were first founded as jewelry, diamond, and colored gems certification institute.
Antwerp is by the way, historically known as the “home of diamonds,” and IGI is the oldest certification lab there. IGI offers grading services for almost all types of jewelry and diamonds.
As for IGI’s reputation, it’s well-known that IGI runs on preset and documented standards in the process of evaluating and grading diamonds and other gemstones. These standards are across all IGI’s offices internationally.
And even though a different organization owns each lab, it’s less likely that a gemstone will be graded any different from an IGI lab to another. They all follow the same procedures of grading and certification.
While this sounds obvious, a lot of labs don’t operate like IGI. For example, you will most likely be able to find some differences in grading degrees for stones certified by EGL offices, as EGL has many offices around the world.
The exponential growth in IGI presence is indisputable. Even though they started with just one office in Antwerp, they now have several offices there – as well as in other countries:
- New York
- Hong Kong
- Tel Aviv
- Los Angeles
- New Delhi
Being located in this many countries, IGI brands itself as the most prominent international lab. However, this needs a bit of explanation, since GIA has offices in 13 countries and around 3000 gemologists in their offices.
So, take the words “most prominent” with a grain of salt.
IGI Schools Of Gemology
Interestingly enough, IGI has a School Of Gemology with branches in Antwerp, Dubai, Rome, Shanghai, and many more countries, offering diamond certification skills.
Additionally, their website mentions that thousands of students graduate from their school every year.
IGI Vs. GIA Comparison
If you wonder where IGI stands next to GIA, let’s look at a general comparison between these two labs. After that, we’ll dig more into some of the differences regarding technicalities between IGI and GIA grading methods.
|Number Of Employees||650||3000|
On the note of profitability: IGI is a company, and it was sort of a family business for almost its whole lifetime, until very recently when the Chinese conglomerate Fosun acquired 80% of IGI.
Some sources mention that the deal was around €100 million. That is just to give you an idea about how huge this business is.
On the other hand, GIA is a non-profit organization, meaning nobody is getting rich by grading diamonds.
IGI Vs. GIA: Diamond Grading Review And Comparison
Following our evaluation and comparison of diamonds graded by IGI and GIA, we’ve noticed a slight change in grading some gemstones’ characteristics – mainly color and clarity.
To clarify, a stone that has been graded as VVS1 by IGI might be graded as VVS2 by GIA. In addition, an E color diamond by IGI can be seen as F grade by GIA.
That isn’t always the case – but it happens more often than it doesn’t.
Generally speaking, getting a gemstone with grades that are higher than its actual grade isn’t recommended and here’s why:
- You will be paying an extra amount of money for a higher grade that doesn’t exist. However, this isn’t always the case. IGI diamonds are cheaper than GIA ones because they’re aware that they aren’t reliable as GIA. So, you won’t be paying more at all times.
- Reputation matters. If you want to sell a diamond, it won’t be easy to convince a buyer with a stone certified by any lab other than GIA.
- Even if you do manage to sell it, you will lose more money.
- Most diamond insurance companies cover stones that are certified by GIA.
It’s worth mentioning that differences we’ve discussed here were found in high clarity grades; the same goes for color. So, If you’re getting an SI1 or VS2 stone with a color within the I through G range, most likely, it won’t be a problem.
However, it has to be inspected to make sure it’s a good deal.
If you stumble upon two diamonds that have the same clarity and color grades, one by IGI and another by GIA, for the same price, it would be a good idea to go for the GIA diamond. The IGI stone might be overpriced in this case.
IGI Grading And Reporting Services
As a specialized organization in diamond and other gemstone grading, IGI offers many reports exhibiting different characteristics of gemstones. Let’s look at some of the most popular IGI reports:
Loose Diamonds Report
Similar to other diamond certifications such as GIA and AGS, this report evaluates the diamond characteristics and allocates grades based on their standards. This report specifies diamond’s 4C’, what shape the stone has, symmetry, polish, and fluorescence.
It also includes a graphic representation of the stone itself, which exhibits inclusions found in different areas of the diamond.
Learn More: Loose Diamonds: Everything You Need to Know
Hearts And Arrows Diamonds Report
This diamond type is lately becoming more and more popular – especially with the large online retailers. They introduced new products and branded them as unique gems with unmatched cut grades.
Because of this unmatched growing demand for the Hearts and Arrows diamonds, and seeing that IGI doesn’t include any specific details about these branded products in their certificates, an opportunity presented itself for the IGI to issue grading reports for these diamonds.
IGI utilizes the “Hearts and Arrows” gem scope to check if all facets are aligned to look correctly, which means total symmetrical proportion.
The report is very similar to the previous one – but it has one difference. This report includes a comments section to verify that this diamond is a “Hearts and Arrow” one.
Colored Diamonds Report
IGI offers a service to grade and provides a complete evaluation of colored diamonds since these stones are examined and judged differently than their colorless counterparts.
That is due to the fact that a lot of colored diamonds are actually colorless with low color grades, or they have been treated to change the diamond’s color.
The colored diamond report IGI issues will include details about the stone’s color, origin, grade, distribution, and a comment section.
Lab-Grown Diamonds Report
People are constantly searching for cheaper options for everything, including diamonds. Due to financial matters, lab-grown diamonds have been more adapted in recent years.
But is it that easy to identify a lab-grown diamond? And if it is, then the question is, why would people even consider going for one?
The truth is it’s impossible to tell the difference between natural and lab-grown diamonds with the naked eye. Nobody can detect the difference just by looking.
The report for the synthetic diamonds issued by IGI is identical to the natural diamond report. However, it has a line that clearly states that the diamond is “laboratory-grown,” and of course, the report’s name.
Other Reports By IGI
The reports we have covered so far are the most popular ones that the IGI issues, and they’re also what most people are looking for in terms of certification.
However, IGI also has other reports:
- Jewelry Report
- Colored Stone Report
Read Also: Is GSI Better Than IGI?
Is IGI Certificate Good And Reliable?
Everything we’ve mentioned above boils down to one question: How good and reputable are IGI certification services?
We can’t say that IGI is as reputable as GIA or AGS, but at the same time, we won’t say that IGI is as unreliable as EGL.
IGI has straightforward guidelines to evaluate and grade diamonds and other gemstones, but they might not be as strict as other competitors, including GIA and AGS. That’s mainly due to the experience of gemologists they work with and the inspection tools that they have.
Also, in many cases, for-profit organizations tend to be more on the seller side than the buyer. Ultimately, it’s their business; these companies will encourage sellers to go with their grading procedures. This way, they can send more stones to be graded by these labs.
All of this results in a bit of instability in their diamond grading, though.
For example, GIA might grade two stones with VS2 clarity grade, but in certification labs with fewer restrictions, they might grade one stone with VS2 and the other with VS1 clarity grade.
Despite the fact that some of the biggest online stores sell IGI certified stones, we can’t say for sure that you should or shouldn’t go for IGI certified diamonds.
Even though IGI is a reputable certification lab and follows guidelines to evaluate stones, this relies on many other factors. There are IGI certified stones that are reasonably priced, but on the other hand, some are as high priced as if they are GIA-certified diamonds with the same characteristics.
After everything we’ve discussed above, the question remains: “Is IGI as good as GIA?”
While IGI is a reliable and reputable lab, it’s still not nearly as strong as GIA. However, there’s no reason to rule out IGI completely. You just have to work with the assumption that there’s a chance of inconsistency between the two labs when it comes to color and clarity.
Our top advice? Always go for the GIA-graded and certified diamonds.