Shopping for Loose Diamonds: Not All Certificates Are the Same!

Certification is known as ‘the 5th C’. Carat, color, clarity and cut make up the physical and optical properties of your diamond, but the grades a diamond is awarded are only as reliable as the laboratory who certifies them.
Understanding the significant differences between the quality of grading labs is imperative when looking to purchase a loose diamond online. This guide will highlight these differences so you can select a top tier certificate and a knockout diamond.

Do I Need a Diamond Certificate?

Before we look closer at the grading labs, first a note on the importance of certification. Put simply, a diamond certificate is the only way to know the authenticity and quality of a diamond, thus it is the only way to know whether or not you are paying a reasonable price. We have a full guide to certified diamonds along with our top tips and where to buy certified diamonds.

GIA Certificates (Gemological Institute of America)

GIA Diamond Certificate
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The GIA defined the standard for diamonds grading in 1953 when they coined ‘the four c’s’ of assessing diamond quality. The GIA is a non-profit organization committed to furthering diamond research, educational programs and diamond grading services. They are consistently at the forefront of developments within the world of diamonds.
They are renowned for their thorough analysis and stringent parameters, ensuring the diamond is accurately represented in the final report. The GIA was established in the 1920’s and is unequivocally considered one of the best grading bodies in the world.
We have an inventory of beautiful, loose GIA certified diamonds.

AGS (American Gem Society)

AGS Diamond Certificate
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The American Gem Society was built upon the same foundations as the GIA; a desire, driven by jeweler Robert Shipley, to train a new calibre of ‘certified’ jewelers, with an in-depth understanding of diamonds. AGS Laboratories (AGSL) has achieved some notable accomplishments within the diamond world including:
  • Inventing the industry's first scientifically reviewed, objective, and repeatable Cut Grade system.
  • Creating the Ideal Cut Grade for Round Brilliant shaped diamonds, referred to as the AGS Ideal or the Triple Zero Cut.
  • Offering the industry's first diamond grading reports with a Cut Grade for Princess, Emerald, Oval, and other fancy diamond shapes.
The focus of AGSL on cut quality is of particular significance. As our knowledge of diamonds developed, so too did the understanding of cut quality and its importance. We rely on AGS certification for our esteemed A CUT ABOVE® super-ideal cut diamonds.

IGI (International Gemological Institute)

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IGI is a high volume lab with a very mixed reputation in the industry. The integrity of IGI has been called into question numerous times, including a very public warning issued by Dateline in 2005. The go-to certifier for large chain jewellers, IGI certificates offer inflated grades making it easier for sellers to make a profit. We do not stock IGI certified diamonds and we do not recommend them to our customers.

EGL (European Gemological Laboratory)

EGL Certificate
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EGL certified diamonds often present as bargains that are too good to be true, and more often than not they are. Because of dramatic inconsistencies between their affiliated labs, the market is highly skeptical of EGL grading, assuming that the grades given on the report are significantly higher than they should be. Heavily inflated and wildly inconsistent grades lure customers in who ultimately may end up parting with more money for a lower quality diamond. One of the significant benefits of certified diamonds is that they allow buyers to make a balanced judgement on an apples to apples basis. The inconsistency, and in some cases gross misrepresentation of some diamonds, has greatly damaged the reputation of this group of labs, even prompting trading platforms to delist EGL certified diamonds.
We do not sell EGL certified diamonds, nor do we recommend them. You can read more about EGL VS GIA and AGS here.

Are Certified Diamonds More Expensive?

With the faults of the second tier labs known so publicly, you may wonder why anyone who sells diamonds carries IGI or EGL certificates at all. The answer is that sellers benefit from over-grading.
When a diamond appears to be better than it actually is, the seller can sell it for more, and/or appear to be offering better value than a merchant offering an accurately graded diamond. An accurately graded diamond therefore appears to an unsuspecting consumer to be more expensive, but in fact it can be significantly less expensive than the diamond with inflated lab grades. Liquidity is also much greater for a diamond graded by GIA or AGS, adding greatly to its overall value.
Consumers are ill-served by inconsistent or inflated lab grades. We believe integrity, accuracy, and transparency are the cornerstones of consumer protection. All of our diamonds are GIA or AGS certified and we provide additional performance reports to demonstrate and substantiate their quality.
Our education pages and diamond experts are here to help. Whether it’s navigating the ins and outs of certification or simply seeking a respectable place to buy loose diamonds, we pride ourselves on providing our customers with a service that matches the quality of our diamonds.

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