A diamond may be the most valuable thing you buy, but is it really a diamond?
The overwhelming popularity of diamonds in the modern era has given rise to a lot of fakes or lookalikes. To ensure that you make an informed decision while buying diamonds and understand their standing per the 4Cs, it is essential to get diamond certification or grading reports.
A diamond certificate is a detailed grading report prepared by trained experts in a lab who go over the different aspects of the diamond to determine its value and quality. There are many other reputed labs that grade diamonds and apply distinct methods and parameters and thus the value these labs might assess the diamond at might be different.
Here’s an overview of some of the most reputed diamond grading labs
1. IGI Certification
The International Gemological Institute (IGI) boasts of being the world’s largest independent gemological laboratory. IGI’s expert gemologists use state-of-the-art technology and tools to carefully analyze the most crucial aspects of a diamond – color, cut, clarity, carat weight, symmetry, and finish. The final result is a highly detailed and reliable report highlighting a diamond’s quality characteristics.
2. GIA Certification
When it comes to diamond certification, the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) stands head and shoulders above its peers. Over the years, they have developed a reputation for providing rather consistent results making them one of the more trustworthy names on the market.
The GIA certification includes an assessment of over 19 parameters including symmetry, culet size, fluorescence grade, cutting style & diamond shape, and girdle thickness. A GIA Diamond Report is one of the most prolific and detailed evaluations of the 4Cs – Color, Clarity, Cut and Carat Weight. The report includes a plotted diagram highlighting the graphical representation of the diamond and its clarity characteristics. GIA certified diamonds showcase a microscopic laser inscription of the report number on their girdle.
The GIA also provides a GIA Diamond Dossier and it presents the same information as the GIA Diamond Grading report. The difference is that it does not have a plotted diagram like the Report.
3. AGS certification
The American Gem Society happens to be the oldest player in the segment and is nothing less than a pioneer in the diamond industry. Before GIA entered the space, the AGS exercised complete monopoly in this segment. The AGS grade scale from 0-10 was held in such high regard where ‘0’ was referred to as most valuable while 10 as least desirable.
AGS analyzes the 4Cs of a diamond quite meticulously, The clarity, cut and color is mostly checked by two experienced gemologists. The cat weight is measured using a digital carat scale and to make it more precise, it is measured up to the third decimal place. The color is compared with master stones which have a predetermined color. When it comes to clarity, the diamond is placed under a binocular microscope and examined by gemologists under specialized lighting. The character of the diamond is then plotted on a diamond diagram.
The AGS Diamond Quality Report merges two technologies to provide a proportion-based report. The Cut Grading system uses computerized modeling to generate a three-dimensional model of the diamond. After that, the AGS rates the performance of the diamond based on contrast, brightness, and dispersion. The diamond grader also analyzes the proportions of the diamond. These proportions include the culet and girdle, weight ratio, tilt, and durability. The finish is graded on the basis of symmetry and polish.
The AGS grading report also includes laser inscriptions and customized reports for both loose diamonds and those mounted in jewelry. The AGS Laboratories (AGSL) Jewelry Grading Report evaluates the color and clarity grades as best as the mounting structure permits. It highlights the total carat weight, jewelry description, and verification of the mounting’s stamp depicting the metal quality. Apart from this, the AGSL report also states whether the mounted diamonds are natural or lab grown.
4. EGL Certification
The European Gemological Laboratory (EGL) is an established and reputed institute, known for its pioneering innovations in diamond grading.
EGL was the first to start grading diamonds weighing less than 1-carat and also created the “SI3” grade for assessing diamond clarity. Each diamond goes through an extensive evaluation process wherein multiple gemologists inspect the minute details of the gem. The EGL grading report evaluates diamonds on the basis of core factors such as carat weight, color grade, clarity, cut, finish, and fluorescence.
At least 8 gemologists inspect the diamond and if no unanimous judgment is reached, senior gemologists are consulted. The clarity grade ranks diamonds on a scale from “FL” (flawless) to “I” (included). Gemologists decide on the clarity of the diamond and they use 60x magnification (minimum) to determine the finish and clarity of a diamond. Inclusions are plotted on a diamond diagram. As for the color grade (for colorless to light diamonds), the scale ranges from “D” (colorless) to “Z” (depicting stark tones of brown, gray, green, pink, or yellow). Specialized gemologist teams compare master stones of predetermined colors to assess the diamond color.
EGL uses standard calibrated electronic scales to measure a diamond’s carat weight, recording its proportions, measurements, and facet angles. The diamond’s cut and finish are inspected by Gemologists carefully to determine the polish and symmetry. Fluorescence too is determined after exposing the diamond to long-wave ultraviolet radiation which reveals the fluorescence amount present in the diamond, if any.
5. HRD Certification
The Hoge Raad voor Diamant (HRD), a.k.a, the “Diamond High Council” is an authoritative entity in the global diamond industry. The HRD monitors and controls over half of the global market’s loose diamonds business. Although the lab is not as popular as the others in the US diamond market, but the HRD diamond certificate is held in high regard among jewelers and consumers worldwide.