Many consumers are aware of the 4C’s of diamond shopping: carat, color, clarity, and cut. The most discerning shoppers also find themselves asking, “Is this diamond certified?”
What is a Certified Diamond?
A diamond certification, also known as a diamond grading report, diamond dossier, or diamond quality document, is basically a document that details a diamond’s dimensions, color, clarity, symmetry, and other characteristics. The diamond has been examined by an independent gemological laboratory and graded against comparative diamonds for an accurate assessment. The report does not provide an appraisal for the diamond. However, an appraiser will use this document to assign a fair market value. The certification is also helpful for a buyer who wishes to make a sound comparison between one diamond and another, as it is written proof of the exact grading and quality of the diamond.
The most well known laboratories in the United States are the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the American Gem Society Laboratories (AGSL). The GIA developed the industry standards and the 4C’s of the diamond grading industry and are committed to providing the best education on diamond quality. They are an independent source to rely on for honest grading methods. Diamond graders at the AGSL must pass the GIA Diamond and Diamond Grader courses, and are evaluated by Certified Gemologists. Each unmounted diamond is examined by at least two diamond graders for each factor (cut, clarity, color, carat, etc.), so you can be sure that the grading is consistent and held to the highest standard.
There are other laboratories available that provide certifications. Independent labs are generally not as consistent in their quality of grading, so if you are going to spend the money on a certified diamond, it is worth the effort to seek out a GIA or AGS graded diamond. Ask to see the certification before purchasing the diamond. If you are unsure if the certification is authentic, you can easily verify the diamond grading report through both GIA and AGS.
All of this does not mean that noncertified diamonds are less valuable. The risk with a noncertified diamond is simply that you must take the seller’s word on the quality of the diamond. You must trust your own eye to discern tiny discrepancies and hope that the seller is one of integrity. Also, you run the risk that another jeweler or appraiser will not agree with the assigned value, so you therefore lose money on your investment.
In some cases, you can submit an uncertified diamond for grading yourself, although it is generally better to ask your seller to do it before you buy. This way, you can decline purchasing if the grade is not as high as originally promised, or ask him to guarantee a return if the grade is lower than expected.
Shopping for a certified diamond vs. a noncertified diamond simplifies the hunt. It allows a buyer to compare each individual factor of a diamond to assess which diamond is the better value, with no risk. It allows you to get an accurate appraisal, insured for full value, and assured of your diamond’s quality.