Many purchases, big and small, have been made for your wedding day. But few, if any, of those purchases match the value of your engagement ring. A diamond ring is a big purchase, so it’s wise to look into diamond certification to ensure you’re getting what you paid for.
The monetary value of this ring likely eclipses that of many items you and your partner have purchased throughout the years. But in addition, the ring is a beautiful and lasting symbol of your dedication to each other, a physical representation of your individual vows.
In particular, the diamond that is set in the ring can be a lifelong possession and is a considerable investment. This is why diamond certification is so important. But what is diamond certification?
What Is Diamond Certification?
When purchasing jewelry, everyone should know that reputable sellers obtain diamond certifications for their diamonds.
Third-party labs will examine these valuable minerals and describe various characteristics of each individual diamond. There are qualities such as cut, color, clarity, and size that most of us are aware of. But labs that examine diamonds grade a plethora of other elements related to the mineral and its value, with some labs providing a more thorough evaluation than others.
Once a seller obtains this certification, they are able to attach a value to their diamonds corresponding to these lab examinations. The grades and specifications they receive provide a basis for price tags attached to their jewelry and are a way for consumers to know exactly what they are purchasing.
But what if you have jewelry that does not have a certification? Well, it’s actually possible to obtain this certification yourself.
How Much Does Diamond Certification Cost?
On average, these certifications will cost about $150. Typically, however, jewelers will have their products certified already. As we mentioned above, reputable sellers want to have these certifications attached to their jewelry because educated buyers will not purchase a diamond that is not certified.
This means that we, as consumers, should not have to obtain certifications for new diamonds. In fact, before even considering the purchase of a diamond, this diamond certification should be scrutinized and referred to.
But if you need to obtain this certification for the jewelry you already possess, a GIA certification is the way to go.
Is a GIA Certification Worth It?
In short, the answer to this question is yes. The GIA, or the Gemological Institute of America, is the most reputable and respected source for diamond certification. As a result, GIA diamonds are typically of the highest value.
Their services are not terribly expensive, and you can rest knowing that their examination will be consistent and accurate. Whether your objective is to appraise, insure, or sell the diamond in your possession, a GIA certification will serve as a reliable foundation.
When purchasing jewelry, be on the lookout for GIA certifications. Certified diamonds attached to GIA will most likely be closer in value to the accompanying price tag.
What to Look for on a Diamond Certificate
Diamond certificates contain information pertaining to every aspect of each diamond. But it’s well-known that buyers need to look for the 4Cs: cut, color, clarity, and carat weight. This standard is universal and is indicative of the actual value of the diamond you are about to purchase.
The way a diamond is cut will largely influence the sparkle of the stone. This cut does not refer to the shape of the diamond, however. It refers to the way the diamond was crafted so as to optimally interact with light. This is also a heavily objective and technical aspect of the diamond, so not all entities’ cut grades are created equal, and is another reason diamond certification is so essential.
For color, ironically, the lack of color is the basis for which a diamond is graded. The highest value belongs to diamonds that are essentially colorless, like water. Because this lack of color is almost impossible to discern with the naked eye but impacts the value of the diamond so heavily, a color grade from a reputable lab is beyond important.
The clarity of a diamond refers to the number and character of blemishes found internally and externally on each stone, as well as how these blemishes affect the diamond’s aesthetic appeal. The fewer blemishes are found, the higher the value of the diamond. This quality is, again, virtually invisible to the naked eye, which makes a diamond certification all the more vital.
Lastly, carat weight measures, well, the weight of the diamond. When viewing a diamond, the size is the most readily apparent quality for onlookers. This aspect of a diamond does impact the value of the stone, but two diamonds of equal size may differ greatly in price due to the other three values of the 4Cs.
Diamond Grading Systems
There are a number of labs that provide diamond certifications. The grading systems these entities provide serve as the basis for a diamond’s value beyond what can be seen with the naked eye.
It is important to note these different grading systems when purchasing jewelry, as they are not all created equal. GIA and AGS are two of the most reputable and trusted certifications available. IGI, EGL, GSI, and HRD are some other grading systems that are used.
GIA (Gemological Institute of America)
GIA is by far the most desirable certification on a diamond. The GIA stands as the leader in diamond certification, really since its inception in 1931.
In fact, the GIA is responsible for creating the 4Cs, the primary basis for a diamond’s value. Before the GIA’s intervention, a diamond’s worth was based primarily on subjective observation, and the terms used to describe a diamond’s qualities were inconsistent. The 4Cs provided a universal benchmark for diamond sellers and buyers the world over.
The GIA is not invested in the sale of the diamonds it certifies, meaning there is no bias when it comes to its grading system. A GIA certification is almost a non-negotiable when considering the purchase of a diamond.
AGS (American Gem Society)
The AGS, or the American Gem Society, is another reputable and trusted giant in the world of diamond certification. It is a nonprofit organization with a primary mission: to protect the consumer. With diamonds being such a heavy financial investment, the AGS believes every consumer should know exactly what they are purchasing.
The AGS uses a 0-10 grading system that may be easier to understand, with 0 being the highest value and 10 being the lowest value. This grading system is then applied to the 4Cs.
AGS certifications are also an indication of a properly certified diamond, with no bias involved.
IGI (International Gemological Institute)
The IGI, or International Gemological Institute, consists of about 20 labs stationed worldwide. They also support 14 schools for gemology. This entity is known internationally, and its grading system is trusted in many countries.
The IGI specializes in the examination and grading of organic and lab-grown diamonds.
Their grading system still utilizes the 4Cs.
While the IGI certification is reputable and well-known internationally, it does not hold the same weight as a GIA or AGS certification.
EGL (European Gemological Laboratory)
The EGL, or European Gemological Laboratory, has labs dedicated to the examination and certification of diamonds sold in North America. Its main lab in the United States is located in the heart of New York’s diamond district, with another lab established afterward in Los Angeles.
The EGL is reportedly one of the first labs to grade diamonds weighing less than one carat. This entity also utilizes the 4Cs in its evaluations.
GSI (Gemological Science International)
The GSI, or Gemological Science International, has a reputation for being the only major gem lab established in the 21st century. They pride themselves on keeping pace with the latest trends in technology and education pertaining to diamonds. The GSI lab offers a variety of services, both related and unrelated to diamond grading.
This entity grades a number of characteristics of each diamond but still utilizes the 4Cs in their system as well.
HRD (Hoge Raad voor Diamant)
HRD stands for Hoge Raad voor Diamant, which translates to the “Diamond High Council.” It was established in Antwerp in 1973. The purpose of this entity was to exist as a European equivalent to the GIA.
It holds offices worldwide but specializes in the grading of diamonds in Europe. Antwerp has a rich history of diamond trading, which lends itself to the HRD’s reputation. Despite its position as a GIA counterpart, the 4Cs are still a vital component of the HRD grading system.
Diamond certification is a very important process. It provides a solid foundation for qualifying a diamond’s value, serving as an asset to sellers. Certified diamonds also offer peace of mind to consumers, who are able to ascertain exactly what they are purchasing.
But it must be noted that not all diamond grading systems are the same. It is of great benefit to sellers to obtain a GIA or AGS certification, as educated consumers will gravitate towards diamonds qualified through these grading systems. Consumers also do well to purchase diamonds certified by these entities when possible.
Important aspects of each diamond, especially pertaining to the 4Cs, are graded without bias by the GIA and AGS, whereas other grading systems may be inconsistent or offer higher grades to objectively lower quality diamonds.
Keep in mind these facets of diamond certification and you can rest easy knowing that the crafting of your precious gem did not involve cutting any corners! If you opt for a non-traditional ring without a diamond, other gems can be certified as well by many of these organization.
Once your diamond is certified, make sure it fits your ring finger of choice, or you’ll need the band resized after proposing.
This page may contain affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we'll earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you.