Guide to Diamond Certification

Certificates – The new 5th C (or value for money?)

round cut diamond

Actually, value for money should probably be the new 5th C. But we will call it certificates.

When one goes to buy a diamond the biggest problem is usually that he or she has no idea what they are actually buying. Is it real? Is it what they said it is? These are usually the reasons that one wants a certificate in order to feel shielded and to confirm the authenticity of the diamond that they purchased.

There are many well known gemological labs across the world. For example: GIA, HRD, EGL, IGI and the list goes on and on. Some are less know and some are more known. Now let’s get into the depth of things. For this articles case let’s take a 1.00ct diamond that was graded by the GIA. The GIA certificate states that the color is H and the clarity is SI2. Great! I just bought a 1.00ct H SI2 diamond.

Now let’s send that same exact diamond to HRD. Why you ask? Well, just for the fun of it. I think that it will be great to hand my girlfriend a beautiful diamond ring with different certificates proving my love to her. We take a look at the HRD certificate and low and behold the same diamond now received a grading of G color and SI1 clarity. Huhhh? Maybe there’s a mistake? Like when going to a doctor, we want a third opinion right? Well, let’s send the diamond to EGL just to make sense of the matter. And the votes are in… EGL graded the diamond E color and VS2 clarity. What is going on here? Who is right?

The answer is that nobody is right and nobody is wrong. Diamond grading is not an exact science and every lab has their own standards and grading methods. That is why we received different grades for the same diamond from three different labs. So now you are asking. What does a diamond certificate do for me if it’s always different?

If HRD graded the diamond a G/SI1 and GIA graded the diamond an H/SI2 does that mean that the HRD are cheating or tricking the customer? Of course not. HRD is one of the most well known respected labs in the world. Nobody can say that about them. But their grading standards and methods are different than those of the GIA (read more).

Don’t forget that each lab has their own standards and that some are more lenient on their grading standards than others. Therefore, even if two different diamonds receive the same exact grades from two different labs they can have two completely different prices.

What certificate did you receive with your purchase?

The next question is one I have been asked a million times: “I sent my diamond in to be appraised and it did not match up with the certificate I received when purchasing the diamond. How come?”. My question back is always: “What certificate did you receive with your purchase?”. If their answer is GIA then their appraiser has no idea what he is doing and should be exiled from the diamond industry.

If the certificate is a different grading lab than the GIA then all is understood.
The reason for this is that appraisers are usually GIA trained and they grade by GIA’s standards. GIA is the leading authority in diamond grading but they are not the only authority. If you want your diamond to match up with GIA’s grading standards then you must buy a GIA certified diamond.

As I had said in a previous article of mine “retail priced diamonds are not an investment”. You will not be making money off of the diamond you purchased. Forget about it. Concentrate on value for money and think to yourself “Did I receive this diamond for a good price?”. The true important thing is if you are receiving great value for your money. If so, then you can be very happy with your purchase.