We’re sure you’re undoubtedly looking to buy a gorgeous diamond if you’ve come across this blog page. You might be considering purchasing an engagement ring or upgrading to a bigger diamond.
However, it might be a bit challenging to educate oneself in terms of how to make the best selection and which diamond to purchase. There are many factors to consider here.
What diamond size, color, and clarity should I purchase? What influence does the cut have on the brilliance and price? Do I need to buy a diamond that has been lab graded – or lab certified?
Many consumers searching for a diamond engagement ring are aware that they should buy from a store that only offers certified diamonds. Still, few are aware of the actual differences between certified and non-certified precious stones.
So, what is the difference between certified and non-certified diamonds? That’s what we’ll be talking about today in the hopes of helping you choose the right gem.
Let’s get going!
Non-Certified Diamonds Vs. Certified Diamonds: What’s The Difference?
Simply put, certified diamonds are those that have been assessed and graded by an independent certifying organization and come with a unique identification number and certificate.
For your peace of mind, many certified diamonds are laser engraved with the ID number.
Non-certified diamonds, on the other hand, haven’t been inspected by a third-party certifying organization, and a retailer can only guess at the diamond’s quality.
If a shop tells you a non-certified stone’s clarity, color, carat weight, or cut, the information is merely their best estimate.
Although certified diamonds aren’t intrinsically superior to non-certified diamonds, they do appear to be higher-quality gems; the store has picked them for their verified quality.
Plus, certified diamonds are frequently entirely natural and have not been treated.
Who Exactly Certifies Diamonds?
Independent third-party gemological experts are in charge of diamond certification, including:
- Gemological Institute of America (GIA)
- American Gem Society (AGS)
- International Gemological Institute (IGI)
- Hoge Raad Voor Diamant (HRD)
- European Gemological Laboratory (EGL)
Remember that certification is only helpful if performed by a third party who is not affiliated with the jeweler who sold the diamond. The quality parameters may not be objective if the jeweler has a say in how their diamonds are graded.
It’s crucial to remember that evaluations aren’t certificates.
The diamond is described and graded in a diamond grading report, whereas the diamond is valued according to current market pricing in an appraisal. Furthermore, when a diamond certificate is issued by the jeweler or vendor, it is not considered a certificate.
Related Read: Diamond Appraisal Vs. Diamond Certification
The Advantages of Buying Certified Diamonds
You eliminate a lot of the guesswork when you opt for a certified gem as the center stone in your personalized engagement ring. When looking at a diamond’s certification, you can get peace of mind that you won’t get if you choose from a range of uncertified stones.
Additionally, buying certified diamonds could teach you more about diamonds – and help you appreciate them more.
You’ll gradually discover qualities like color and clarity as you begin to comprehend the many criteria provided in the grading report – and then compare those grades to what you see with your bare eyes.
For example, when you encounter a stone with a D color, you might appreciate the absence of color for what it is.
Is It A Good Idea To Buy A Non-Certified Diamond?
Consider purchasing a non-certified diamond for small stones or decorative stones. It might be challenging – if not impossible – to see quality features in tiny diamonds with bare eyes.
GIA does provide additional testing for loose and mounted diamonds in smaller sizes. Small diamonds under .2 carats can be tested to see if they’re natural or altered.
Related Read: Can You Get a Diamond Certified After Purchase?
What Should You Pay Attention To In Diamond Ring Certification?
There are a few things to keep in mind when going through your diamond certificate. We’ll cover them all below.
Rating Consistency Is Important
When it comes to comparing diamonds, consistency is more significant than the rigidity of evaluation.
The GIA, for example, will not grade a diamond in the same way that the IGI does. Related Read: Is IGI As Good As GIA?
The color, clarity, and, in some instances, the cut grades are only as reliable as the certifying lab’s reputation. However, if one lab repeatedly assigns a single clarity grade higher than another, that lab is no less “genuine.”
Take color grades as an example to demonstrate the significance of this issue.
For example, let’s say you buy an H-color diamond with an IGI certificate, believing you’ve scored a deal. However, once you get it home, you notice that the diamond has a golden hue.
That’s because the diamond is actually an I color (according to GIA certification), and the IGI only provides a “weak” certificate. Rather than merely comparing certification ratings, check for consistency in the entity’s grading judgments.
Grading A Diamond Is Subjective
Diamond grading is subjective, and despite common assumptions, there’s no centralized institution that statistically determines what a specific color or clarity looks like:
If one lab constantly names a color grade “G” and another consistently calls the identical color “H,” it’s entirely fair and reasonable – as long as they do it continually.
It’s vital to realize that just because an entity’s rating is consistent doesn’t indicate that it’s dependable and trustworthy.
Buying a diamond with a poor certificate at a hefty price tag is not advisable – even if the institution routinely evaluates gems in this manner because you’re not receiving value for the money you’re paying.
The Price Is More Important
You should carefully consider the cost of the diamond regardless of the certificate you get. The price should represent the diamond’s actual quality, luster, and shape, as seen on the certificate and with the naked eye.
If you’re not sure if a gem is reasonably priced or overpriced, get it appraised by a diamond professional before you buy it.
Related Read: Diamond Price List: How Much Is A 0.1 To 40 Carat Diamond Worth?
Every Lab Is Different
Every laboratory has its peculiarities.
Some labs are more lenient when it comes to evaluating color, while others will be more lenient when grading clarity. Furthermore, some laboratories will always enhance specified color ranges, while others prefer specific inclusion patterns.
Some diamond companies will use this to their advantage and send hundreds of diamonds to several laboratories each month to maximize their results.
Knowing which laboratories are reliable and consistent will assist you in avoiding buying a diamond that is worth far less than the certificate claims.
The Best Diamond Certifications
The GIA and AGS are the top diamond certificates since they’re deemed the most accurate lab grading institutions. That means you can rely on their grading in all areas, including color, clarity, and cut quality.
In addition, some laboratories grade more strictly than other labs.
When a gem comes with a GIA or AGS certificate, you can count on the info contained in the report. As a result, we only advocate purchasing diamonds with GIA or AGS certifications.
1. GIA Certificate
The GIA – Gemological Institute of America – is the most well-known and reputable diamond grading organization. They are highly reliable and give the best level of assurance when buying a diamond.
GIA has no financial interest in the diamond’s sale and analyzes diamonds on a range of attributes and aspects, including:
- Date of diamond evaluation
- Dimensions (in millimeters)
- Diamond form and cutting style
- Weight in carats
- Table percentage
- Depth percentage
- Size of the culet
- Diagram of proportions
- Polish grade
- Thickness of girdle
- Cut classification (Excellent, Very Good, Good, Poor)
- Color classification (ranging from D to J)
- Grade of clarity (IF, VVS1, VVS2, VS1, VS2, SI1, SI2)
- Diamond plot displaying all flaws and imperfections
- Grade of fluorescence
- Inscription by laser (if applicable)
- Security features
- Overall comments
Color and Clarity, the two most subjective criteria, are graded more carefully by the GIA. We suggest only purchasing diamonds with a GIA – or AGS – certificate due to GIA’s outstanding reputation, demonstrated consistency, and experience.
2. AGS Certificate
The American Gem Society – AGS – takes pride in being the first lab to produce diamond cut grades.
The AGS presented its unique cut grade system from 0 to 9 (the 0 being “Excellent”) before the GIA even debuted its cut grade a few years ago.
The AGS had a stranglehold on the “perfect cut” market back then.
A diamond cannot be described as “perfect” unless it has an AGS certificate stating that. But since the GIA joined the cut grade market, their market share has decreased dramatically.
The AGS typically seeks to position itself as more upscale and sophisticated than the GIA. In truth, there isn’t much to separate the two laboratories.
Many vendors who offer flawlessly cut round diamonds still prefer AGS, though.
However, color and clarity are not unbiased grades, and that’s why no lab is 100% correct – like weight and dimensions are. If a gem is in-between grades, a maker or merchant could submit it to different laboratories, searching for the best ratings.
Suppose a diamond is a weak I color or a strong J color – and it was given a J color by GIA. The wholesaler or retailer might submit it to AGS for the I color because it will be worth more that way.
It’s significantly more likely that the grades will remain the same, although it is expected that they may receive an increase.
However, AGS is less typically used for non-round jewels. So, if a shop offers 50 cushion-cut diamonds, 49 of which are GIA certified and one AGS diamond, one of those diamonds has most certainly been upgraded.
That’s not a criticism of AGS, though. Instead, it is an observation of how certain distributors and sellers may exploit the end customer.
Overall, AGS is still a highly dependable laboratory.
Other Diamond Certifications
1. IGI Certificate
The International Gemological Institute (IGI) originated as the diamond industry’s manual workhorse. Kay, Zales, and other large jewelry retailers in the United States and Canada used them as their primary gem lab.
IGI is similar to a factory: They operate quickly and provide far lower pricing than GIA, attracting diamond dealers but not always end-users.
Although IGI portrays itself as a top-tier laboratory, that’s not the reality. Their grading’s loose and far less consistent than the standard industry bearers, such as GIA.
Buying a diamond with an independent certificate will provide you with a sense of security; you’ll ensure that your diamond is of the quality and worth indicated in the document.
2. EGL Certificate
The EGL (European Gemological Laboratory) pumps up quality estimates significantly and inconsistently. When it comes to EGL-certified diamonds, you may believe you’re getting a better price – but the price might be exorbitant for a mediocre product.
Shopping for a GIA-certified diamond that’s two or three Color classes lower or one or two Clarity grades below will assure that you get a superior quality diamond for a lesser price.
Bottom line: Do not purchase an EGL certified diamond, regardless of how “cheap” it appears to you in comparison to GIA-certified diamonds.
By definition, every EGL certified stone on the market is more costly than its GIA-certified counterpart.
3. HRD Certificate
The HRD (Hoge Raad voor Diamant) is a European diamond grading institution.
HRD continues to claim to be the world’s leader on diamond grading – even though it is not widely accepted as a valid option in the United States.
In practice, HDR grading is quite unreliable. They frequently rate two or three color or clarity classes higher than the GIA. HRD-graded diamonds are often substantially more expensive than GIA-graded diamonds, too.
Diamond firms may make higher profits as a result of this, though.
Related Read: Is GIA Better Than HRD? The Differences & The Similarities
4. GSI Certification
The GSI (Gemological Science International) is a very young grading organization that has only been in existence for several years. Alas, they did not bring new ideas or breakthrough technologies to the sector.
Instead, they grew their company by appealing to major diamond retail chains.
Not only is the GSI grading looser than the gold standards (GIA and AGSL laboratories), but it is also lower than the next level below (IGI and HRD). GSI also doesn’t keep their grades consistent.
As a result, we don’t advise purchasing a diamond with a GSI certificate. We highly suggest only buying gems with a GIA or AGS certification. You know what you’re getting that way.
Retailers don’t use inaccurate certifications like GSI to provide a bargain to their customers; they use it to earn extra profit from them.
Related Read: Is GSI Better Than IGI?
What Is The Significance Of Diamond Certification?
Diamond certification is required for each diamond purchase; it confirms – and defines – what you’re purchasing. You can’t tell whether the gem you’re buying is what the vendor claims without a certificate from a reputable lab.
A diamond certificate covers info such as the cut quality, color grade, carat weight, and other parameters. And having documentation for what you’re buying is crucial – especially when making such a significant purchase as a diamond.
Is a Certificate Truly Necessary For My Diamond?
Absolutely! You’ll need a certificate for your diamond since you won’t know what you’re getting unless you have one. The certification verifies carat weight, cut excellence, color grade, brilliance, and more.
Without a certificate, you won’t even be able to tell if the diamond is natural or manufactured!
The Difference Between Diamond Appraisal and Diamond Certificate
Some sellers might try to pass off a diamond assessment as a diamond certificate even though the two papers differ significantly.
The diamond’s seller often provides a diamond appraisal to indicate the estimated worth for insurance reasons. A diamond certificate is a gemological laboratory’s independent review of the stone’s quality.
You can see the difference right there.
Related Read: How to Sell a Diamond Without Certificate?
So, there you have it!
We hope now you understand the difference between certified and non-certified diamonds and why you must buy only certified gems.
A certified diamond was assessed by a third-party laboratory and is accompanied by a certificate, while a non-certified diamond isn’t. You may trust certified diamonds more since a competent gemologist has confirmed their characteristics.
It’s difficult to tell if a diamond’s color and cut quality are what the vendor states they are with a non-certified diamond. As a result, we only suggest certified diamonds from respected labs such as the GIA and AGS.
Related Read: How Do I Get My Rough Diamond Certified?