Do you remember the first time you read information about the specifications of diamonds? The information was likely very intimidating and you probably felt that the person who created this complicated system was a little bit odd.
At this point in time, you’ve definitely learned a thing or two about diamond grading and you understand that these grades are simple to comprehend and definitely necessary. Even though it’s possible to learn everything you should ever know about diamonds, and you can use your own two eyes to make a judgment, but a certificate or diamond grading report is still an absolute must.
Expert diamond graders have a tough time determining the exact color of a diamond, so it’s an absolute must to choose diamonds graded by the top grading labs in the world. This will help you determine the market value for your diamond in the best and most precise way possible.
There are a wide range of diamond grading labs in existence and a few of these labs aren’t to be trusted. And that stinks because we trust these grading facilities to operate fairly yet they continue to rip us off.
On the other hand, we actually know better and you’ll learn the grading labs to avoid and the ones that have the most accurate grading system to get the biggest bang for your buck.
The Top Most Well Respected Diamond Grading Labs in Business Today
- Gemological Institute of America (GIA) – GIA is the leading and most well respected diamond grading laboratory around the world. They have set the standards for grading diamonds and their service is used widely. In fact, they are so consistent that they are looked upon as the most trusted gemological grading agency around the world. They also provide research and educational services. GIA employs more than 1400 educators, scientists, and certified graders.
- American Geological Society (AGS) – the American Geological Society has great consistency and high standards just like GIA when it comes to grading. They use an alphabetical rating system and a scientific approach to create their ratings.
- European Gemological Laboratory (EGL) – the European Gemological Laboratory is the main grading system throughout Europe. They have developed expert grading techniques to grade diamonds that are less than a single carat as well as their SI3 diamond grades.
- International Gemological Institute (IGI) – the International Gemological Institute is located in well-respected Asian countries and has their home base in Antwerp, Belgium. Throughout the world, they are the second biggest and most recognized gemological lab. IGI is responsible for grading a wide majority of beautiful diamonds currently available on the market.
IGI vs AGS vs EGL vs GIA: The Whole Truth
In my personal experience, I know that the grading criterion for clarity and color from EGL and IGI is quite low. What does this mean? It means that when each of these labs grades a diamond, they are giving grades for clarity and color at higher levels by two or three times.
As an example, if AGS or GIA were to provide a diamond grade of SI1 for clarity and a color grade of H, you’d see EGL or IGI providing a much better VS1 gradr for clarity and a F for color. These grades will make these diamonds appear to be worth a lot more because they have better clarity and color grades. The grades are much better than AGS or GIA would rate them.
The newest jewelry stores will sell EGL and IGI rated diamonds but the truth is they should avoid this at all costs. These labs do not properly grade the diamonds correctly. They should only stick to grading labs including AGS or GIA to make sure their diamonds are graded accurately.
As a matter of fact, when I started scoping out brick-and-mortar stores seeking diamonds, the owners tried to convince me that AGS and GIA grading reports were too expensive and unnecessary. They also claimed that these reports would make the diamonds appear even more expensive.
Yet the truth is very simple. Jewelry store owners understood that AGS and GIA graded diamonds would have lower grades of clarity and color because they followed stricter rules than IGI or ELG and this meant that they couldn’t charge extra money for the same exact diamond.
Overall, if you go to a jewelry store and they do not have AGS or GIA graded diamonds, you should turn around and walk away. This is true whether you’re shopping in a brick-and-mortar store or an online store.
Related Reading: Differences between a Wedding ring and an Engagement Ring.
Appraisals and In-House Reports: What’s the Scoop?
There’s really nothing to debate in this regard when thinking about in-house reports. Unethical jewelers will produce these unsubstantiated reports and the quality grades will be inflated even more than IGI, EGL, and other untrustworthy labs. Never trust a grading report from the company you’re buying the diamond from because they are likely going to beef up the stats and make the diamond appear like it’s worth more than it really is. Only trust grading certificates from AGS or GIA.
You should also know that receiving a certificate or grading report isn’t the same as receiving an appraisal. An appraisal is absolutely necessary for insurance purposes and that’s typically what it’s used for, but a professional will make the appraisal nonetheless. In truth, a grading report from a reputable lab like GIA or AGS is the most accurate and authentic way to rate the value, clarity, color, and overall quality of a diamond.
Choosing Your Grading Lab
I’d like to mention something that you’ve undoubtedly figured out at this point but it always bears repeating. AGS and GIA are by far the most reliable and strict grading labs in the entire world. But you can trust these companies implicitly because the information they present means you’ll never pay too much for a diamond as long as you buy a diamond given their stamp of approval.
Two things to consider about AGS and GIA include:
- GIA uses the strictest criteria to grade color and clarity.
- AGS uses stricter criteria to grade a diamond’s cut.
For the most part, when it comes to color and clarity it’s typically accepted that there is a one grade margin for error when grading these categories in the 4Cs.
So, a laboratory focused on grading could provide a different color grade at another point in time during the diamond grading process. It’s been my experience that when AGS and GIA grade a diamond you’re going to receive better grades for clarity and color from AGS. But this isn’t the case every single time.
If I had to choose between one and the other, I would always choose GIA because of their strict clarity and color guidelines. These-two parameters are extremely difficult to figure out using the naked eye, so it makes sense to choose a strict grading lab like GIA for this reason alone.
The more valid the diamond report, the more assured a buyer can feel that they are spending their money but getting their money’s worth. Try not to get caught off-guard by overblown sparkle and grades that are incredibly compelling. Instead, focus on making sure the grading is legit before you add it to your cart to make a purchase.
It’s easy to find high quality diamonds that you can trust online. Whiteflash and James Allen jewelers are two credible vendors that use AGS and GIA graded diamonds. So visit these websites when it’s time to shop for a new diamond engagement ring.