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The most important thing for you to do when buying a diamond is looking at, understanding, and getting that diamonds certification. As unfortunate as it is, there are a lot of extremely seedy jewelers and second-hand diamond retails out there and a diamond certification will protect you against them.
Think of a diamond certification as a Carfax history report, but one for diamonds that provides you with things you need to know about the stone you’re buying: it’s cut, clarity, carat and color, the legitimacy of the stone itself and whether or not it has undergone any enhancements in the duration of its mined life, whether or not any fillers have been used to conceal imperfections, and most importantly, the blemishes and inclusions as well as charted locations of both.
Diamond certifications are meant to protect you, the consumer, and to provide you the comfort in knowing that not only are you getting what you paid for, but if you ever have to send your ring or stone in for repair or cleaning, that you’re getting back what’s yours.
Diamond certifications are conducted by graduates gemologists at one, or more, of five institutes:
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA)
The GIA is a nonprofit institute that was founded in 1931. This institute founded the first diamond grading system and is one of the more consistent and reputable certification institutes on the list. The GIA offers three types of certificates.
- The GIA Grading Report – this report consists of an assessment of the cut, color, clarity and carat of the diamond, its overall grade, a diagram of the diamond marking the locations of inclusions or blemishes and, if the cut is a brilliant round cut, the measurements of the diamonds facets.
- Diamond Dossier – this report is essentially the same as the GIA Grading Report, but applicable to rings that size smaller than one carat.
- GIA Colored Diamond Identification and Origin Report – this is a Report for brides and grooms that decide to go with a fancy diamond – it lists the colored diamonds color, it’s overall grade, it’s origin as well as any enhancements the diamond may have undergone.
American Gem Society (AGS)
The AGA was founded in 1934 and is a diamond trading association that prides itself on following a high code of ethics. The AGS had a laboratory, cleverly named the American Gem Society Laboratory (AGSL), that was specifically founded to grade the quality of diamonds. The AGS has two types of certifications:
- The AGSL Diamond Quality Document – this certification consists of the grade for the diamonds cut, color, clarity and carat. This certification also documents the measurement of the diamond, its proportions, identifying marks, chips, blemishes and inclusions.
- The AGSL Diamond Quality Report – like the previously mentioned document, this Report consists of the grade for the diamonds cut, color, clarity and carat. Like the previous document, this report also documents the measurement of the diamond, its proportions, identifying marks, chips, blemishes and inclusions. The difference between the document and report is the fact that the report does the above-mentioned in AGS and GIA terms while the document is only in AGS terms.
The Diamond High Council (Hoge Raad Diamanté – HRD)
The HRD is a nonprofit organization founded in Belgium as recently as 1976. The HRD are known forhaving one of the largest diamond certification labs in the world and, more importantly, for having a consistent and objective standard in grading the quality of diamonds. The HRD has three different certifications:
- The HRD Diamond Certification – much like the others before it, the HRD grades the diamonds four C’s (cut, color, clarity and carat), measurements, enhancements, identifying marks and possible chips. The HRD certification also plots the diamonds inclusions and blemishes on an intricate plotted diagram!
- The HRD Identification Report – this is a shorter version of the HRD Certification, offering everything that the certification does sans the plotted diagram.
- The HRD Diamond Color Certification – this certification is for the fancy diamonds and it provides the diamonds color description, blemishes and inclusions, origin, treatments or enhancements and the luminescence of the stone.
International Gemological Institute (IGI)
The IGI was founded in 1975 and has created a strong reputation for itself, certifying over 400,000 diamonds annually, that’s over 1,000 a day! The IGI has three different certifications:
- The IG Diamond Report – as you may have already guessed, the IG diamond report grades a diamond’s color, cut, clarity and carat. The IG Report also grades the quality of the diamonds natural polish, its symmetry and unique characteristics. The IG Report also marks the diamonds inclusions and blemishes on a detailed diagram.
- The IGI Diamond ID – the IGI ID is essentially the same document as the Report but lacking the diagram. The IGI ID comes on a passport sized card, making it easy to store and file. The IGI Hearts and Arrows Diamond Report – this Report is a bit different than the ones we’ve laid out so far. The Hearts and Arrows Diamond Report is one that grades the overall symmetry of the brilliant round cut diamond – a perfectly symmetrical diamond will display hearts when looking through the stone under a magnifying glass from the pavilion standpoint, and Arrows under similar circumstances when the diamond is positioned table up.
European Gemological Institute (EGI)
The EGI is the youngest of the five institutes, being founded as recently as 1980. Since 1980, the EGI has performed countless advanced studies on diamonds and gemstones. The EGI has three types of certifications:
- The EGL Diamond Certification Report – this report is similar to those before it, grading the quality of a diamond’s color, cut, clarity, and carat, while reporting the diamonds inclusions and blemishes on a detailed diagram.
- The EGL Mini Certification – as the name indicates, this certification is identical to the EGL Diamond Certification Report but shrunken down to a more manageable and storable size.
- The EGL Certicard – this is an awesome Report that the EGL offers, condensing the EGL Diamond Certification Report into a compact credit card sized document – this allows the individual purchasing the ring to always have the certification on hand.
If there is one piece of advice you take away from all your diamond shopping research, let it be this: if you are buying a diamond that is 1 carat or larger, make sure you get a certification from one of the above mentioned certification institute. If the 1+ carat diamond does not come with a certification from a reputable institute, do not buy it. Further, if you are buying a ring that has a diamond that is less than one carat, make sure it has a GIA diamond dossier (certification for diamonds under 1 carat, in case you needed a refresher). If the carat or less sized diamond does not have a diamond dossier, do not buy it.
Although we understand the excitement that comes with searching for the ideal engagement or wedding ring, and the perfect diamond, we do encourage consumer safety and urge our readers to be well informed when taking on this venture and even after they’ve made their purchase. If you’ve already purchased your diamond and want to know how you can continue to protect yourself and your diamond – continue here to read about appraising and insuring your precious gem.