Should You Buy a Certified Diamond?
by    |  January 6th, 2014

What do you really know about diamonds? There are over 26 different color grades and 11 different clarity grades, not to mention dozens of inclusion, blemish and cut features. The truth is, if you are like one of the millions of other Americans who aren’t qualified gemologists, you simply can’t accurately interpret an uncertified diamond’s quality.

Thankfully, diamond certification laboratories were formed, enabling consumers to gain increased insight into the diamonds they purchase. These labs use advanced technology to grade diamonds according to universally accepted standards. Grades are then recorded in a comprehensive report, called a “diamond certificate”. In the absence of these certificates, you are at the retailer’s mercy, relying on them to provide an honest and accurate interpretation of their diamond’s quality.

Certificate Types

There are dozens of different certificate types, and rather than getting into the pros and cons of each, I will let you in on something which is common knowledge within the diamond industry. Gemological Institute of America (GIA), is the only certification laboratory which is 100% reliable and universally accepted. If you are committed to purchasing a certified diamond, make sure it is certified by GIA. It may appear that diamonds with other certificate types are less expensive. In reality, they are simply of a poorer quality then the grades on their report would suggest.

Why Are Some Certificate Types Unreliable?

According to US law, a diamond certification lab is permitted to rate diamonds within one grade of their actual quality, because some diamond quality classifications are obscure and difficult to define. This is especially true in the case of diamond color and clarity grades, as the lines between individual grades is open to interpretation.

Some certification labs have used this law in their favor, purposely grading a diamond above its actual color and/or clarity in order to gain more business from wholesalers and retailers, who, in turn, are able to sell their diamonds at higher prices to an unsuspecting public.

Furthermore, International labs are not bound by this law, enabling them to stretch the boundaries even further, often grading diamonds two or three grades better than their true color and clarity.

This has led to an industry wide collusion in which retailers and wholesalers knowingly sell diamonds at prices which reflect the misleading certificate, rather than the diamonds actual quality. In the end, it is you, the consumer, who suffers from this unfortunate practice. Thankfully, by insisting on purchasing a GIA certified diamond, you can have 100% confidence in the information contained on the report, allowing you to focus on finding the perfect diamond for your budget and needs.


Disclaimer: We have no affiliation with the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). This post represents our opinion and is based on decades of experience as a large scale, wholesale diamond distributor to retailers across the country.

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