A Primer To Certified Diamonds and Diamond Certification Laboratories

Knowing a bit about diamond certification is essential for anyone who wants to purchase loose diamonds or practically any piece of diamond jewelry since a diamond’s value can only be reflected accurately on its certificate.

A diamond’s certificate, also called a diamond grading report, is prepared by an expert gemologist and is issued by a gemological laboratory. There are quite a number of gemological laboratories around the world which certify diamonds but it has been the norm of almost all jewelers in the industry to have their diamonds certified by a few select internationally acclaimed gemological laboratories which are considered to employ the strictest diamond grading standards. Commonly known by their initials, these laboratories are the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the American Gem Society Laboratories (AGS), the European Gemological Laboratories (EGL), the International Gemological Institute (IGI), and the Hoge Raad Voor Diamant (HRD).

While all of these laboratories employ a sort of system which evaluates a diamond’s value mainly from its Cut, Clarity, Color and Carat, some are held in higher regard than others since each of these organizations has its own set of standards and advocacies. You can therefore expect a diamond’s certificate to play an integral part in its price and resale value. Listed below are several noteworthy facts on each laboratory which a buyer can take into consideration when purchasing certified diamonds.

GIA

The Gemological Institute of America is possibly the most highly respected among the five since it primarily is a nonprofit educational institution. Founded in 1931 by Robert Shipley, a pioneering retail jeweler in during the 30’s, the GIA’s primary mission is the promotion of education, research, laboratory services, and instrument development in the gem and jewelry industry. It has been credited for making the “4 C’s”: Cut, Color, Clarity and Carat a standard for grading diamonds.

AGS

The American Gem Society shares the same pedigree as the GIA, having been founded in 1934 by the famed Robert Shipley. Composed of a group of over 1,200 retail jewelers in North America, it established its own laboratory in 1996 and has contributed advances in instrument modernization and new diamond grading standards called the AGS 0-10 Grading System and the AGS Performance-Based Cut Grading System.

EGL

The European Gemological Laboratories is an international organization established in Europe more than 30 years ago. It has since split into two independently owned entities: EGL International and EGL USA. EGL International is an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9001: 2000 certified organization and is the proponent of the “SI3” designation for diamond clarity.

IGI

With locations in all major diamond trade cities around the world including New York, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Bangkok, Tokyo, Dubai, Toronto, Los Angeles, Tel Aviv, the International Gemological Institute is the largest independent diamond laboratory in the world. It is International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9001: 2000 certified in four countries including the United States, Canada, India and the United Arab Emirates. The IGI was established in 1975 and is currently headquartered in Antwerp.

HRD

The “Hoge Raad Voor Diamant” or Diamond High Council is considered to be the GIA’s European counterpart and is representative of the Belgian Diamond Industry. The organization was conceived and is headquartered in Antwerp, a city that has been at the forefront of the diamond industry and is home to the world’s most talented diamond cutters. The HRD Diamond Laboratory is also the first diamond lab in the world that has been NBN EN ISO/IEC 17025-certified.

A reputable jeweler should be able and willing to sufficiently explain further details to any customer who wishes to know more about the different grading processes and standards each laboratory employs so that he can make an informed decision. A diamond’s certificate is also valid and acknowledged by jewelers and appraisers worldwide, making certified loose diamonds a clear advantage for the non-expert purchaser.