Choosing a diamond should be a thoughtful and careful experience. It's important to get the one that looks the best to you and that you're happy with, but you also want to make sure you're getting quality and value. To that end, you need to have a good understanding of the way Diamonds are graded and certified so you can choose the right one for your style and budget. There are several labs for diamond certification, including the GIA, AGS, EGL, IGI, HRD, and GCAL. Each one of these labs is a little bit different, but they all offer basically the same information. Additionally, it's possible to buy independently graded Diamonds that can be an excellent choice and save you money. Here's what you need to know about each one of the certification labs, along with some thoughts on buying Diamonds that are independently graded.
The GIA, or Gemological Institute of America, is focused on teaching people about Jewelry and gems. It's non-profit and mostly research based. All types of different gemstones are graded through the GIA, and Diamonds are a part of that. Gemologists can be trained through this organization, as well, and there's a lot of support offered to the diamond industry. Currently, the GIA is top rated when it comes to the certifications and verifications of Diamonds throughout the Jewelry and gemstone industries. This is due to their strict grading standards and international acceptance.
If you buy a diamond with a GIA rating and grading, you know what you're getting and that you're receiving a quality stone. The GIA is the organization that came up with the current grading standards that are accepted industry wide, so they are truly the industry leader in diamond grading. If you have a GIA graded diamond, you have a stone you can feel good about and have confidence in based on the quality of the diamond and the value that has been placed on it. While there are a number of other certification labs, the gold standard for grading Diamonds is generally understood to be the GIA.
The AGS, or American Gem Society, has been around since the 1930s. However, the laboratory they use for grading their stones (the AGSL) was not established until 1996. Until that time they were more of a simple membership organization made up of appraisers, suppliers, traders, and jewelers. In 2004, they also founded an advanced instruments division. The AGSL division of this organization grades Diamonds, and they have developed their own set of standards to do this. Despite the fact that they're much newer in what they do, they are closely matched with the GIA when it comes to quality and reputation for diamond grading.
The European Gemological Laboratory, or EGL, is another well-known name in the business of grading gemstones and Diamonds. It is an organization that has been around for some time, and that has recently undergone some changes and reorganization. When compared to GIA or AGS, the EGL grading system is considered to be somewhat more relaxed. While EGL Diamonds are the choice of plenty of buyers, an EGL graded stone may sell for a higher discount. This can be the right option for someone looking for a lower price on a stone that they like based on the style, cut, clarity, or color of the diamond itself. We currently do not offer EGL graded diamonds.
In 1975 the International Gemological Institute, or IGI was established. It's located in Antwerp, which is a key area for the diamond business. As one of the world's biggest labs, there are branches of the IGI in many countries. There's a school for gemology there, as well. There are some different criteria for grading Diamonds among the labs in different countries, which can mean a slightly different grading result depending on where the gem was graded. The performance of the IGI is improving, however, and now it is considered to be similar in quality to the AGS and the GIA. A grade difference is to be expected, but that's not necessarily a cause for alarm.
The Antwerp World Diamond Center is the main owner of HRD. It was first founded in 1973, and was the start of the diamond industry in Belgium. The standards that the HRD lab uses are very much like the GIA standards, which means the grading of Diamonds is going to be very similar between the two organizations. The International Diamond Council also creates grading rules, and those rules are followed by HRD. This lab is a reliable one, and the grading of Diamonds through it is something that can be expected to be trusted by jewelers and diamond buying customers.
The Gem Certification & Assurance Lab, Inc. (GCAL) has very high standards, and grades their Diamonds somewhat differently than other laboratories. Additionally, it was the first ISO Accredited gem lab in North America. The reliable and accurate grading of Diamonds is very important, and with the ISO seal of approval the GCAL has committed to international standards that are used by diamond grading labs. With a testing facility that's highly technical and competent, the GCAL can provide accurate grading that meets or exceeds the quality and value expected through international standards. GCAL is also popular for Lab Grown Diamond certification along with natural Diamonds, some of our lab grown Diamonds are GCAL certified.
The analysis and grading of Diamonds is extremely similar across all of the main labs that offer this service. Additionally, these labs offer certification of the Diamonds in order for jewelers, customers, and others to see what trained professionals feel the quality and value to be. Graduate gemologists asses color, clarity, cut, and carat weight, and they all do this independently. After all of the evaluations are collected and evaluated, a final grade is given to the diamond. This reduces the human error potential, because more than one trained professional has offered their true assessment of the diamond.
There can still be inconsistencies, and human mistakes do happen. However, this is currently one of the best and most reliable ways to get information on the true value and grade of Diamonds. With that in mind sending the same diamond to a lab for a second time, or sending a diamond to another lab for a second opinion, can produce a different result. This is important to note, but not necessarily a problem. The grading of Diamonds is usually very close across multiple laboratories and with multiple opinions from trained gemologists.
No matter what size and style of diamond you're looking for, making sure you get one that has been graded and certified can be important to your peace of mind. That way you will have the diamond you really want, and a clear understanding of its value. Having a certified diamond is preferred by most people, but that certification comes at a premium cost and valuation to go along with its peace of mind. That's why some people choose other options, instead of purchasing a diamond that is lab certified and that commands a higher price because of that certification.
One of the best options for buyers looking for a quality diamond at a lower price is to buy Diamonds that are independently graded. These are typically graded by graduate gemologists who have studied and completed grading Education at an institution listed above. Independently graded stones do come at a discount over lab graded Diamonds, and that can be a big benefit for people who are looking for lower prices on their Diamonds. Whether someone wants only one stone for a ring or other piece of Jewelry, or they are looking to buy multiple Diamonds, getting them at a discount can be easier on their budget. You may find that these Diamonds meet your needs just as well as higher priced options, depending on your preferences and other factors.
Our brand focuses on promoting choice thru Education. We will also be offering independently graded Diamonds as a choice for people who cannot afford to pay a premium for a lab graded diamond, or who may want a great looking stone at a lower price. With both lab graded and independently graded options, you can choose the diamond you love at a price you feel comfortable with. You will still have the grading information for that diamond, and the only difference will be that the grading is independent rather than through a lab. Of course, there will still be many lab graded Diamonds that can also be selected, giving you more choice than ever before in your diamond buying.
Then you will know what your beautiful new diamond is worth for insurance purposes, and can make sure you receive fair value if you choose to sell it in the future. Having that information and the peace of mind that comes with it adds value and comfort to the diamond buying experience.