Diamond Certification: The 5th C

by DMNDS | Last Updated: March 2, 2020

A diamond jewelry piece or loose stone can be a wise investment or a rabid pleasure purchase.

In order to avoid common pitfalls between buyer and seller, it’s a good idea to educate yourself upon diamond certification prior to making any large payments.

In doing so, you will save yourself the potential of buying a low-quality or worse, a fake diamond.

Understanding the process – starting with who, why and when will assist you in making a wise decision.

At A Glance

A diamond certification is often recognized, as the 5th C of a diamond’s identity. The other 4 Cs of diamonds being – color, cut, clarity and carat.

A stone grading report helps both buyer and seller determine and establish the true quality of a diamond, in order to make authentic and reasonable sales.

If you are thinking of buying a diamond in the near future, this article will provide everything you need to know about diamond grading and evaluation. Including third-party reputable certification agencies, reasons to certify and much more.

Buy A Stone With Diamond Certification – Avoid Uncertified Knock Offs

Third-party diamond certification is necessary, in order to avoid being taken advantage of. By buying uncertified stones – you risk being exposed to diamonds of lower quality or worse – completely fake. All reputable diamond sales will have a third-party certification.

If a diamond is not certified, there is the potential likelihood for the stone to be several grades below in the 4Cs of evaluation – which are color, cut, clarity and carat weight.

Without certification from a third-party agency, like AGS, GIA, EGL, so on and so forth – the buyer has to rely on the vendor’s reputation and integrity.

Components of human character that can easily be conceived and misinterpreted.

Absence of a certificate is a good sign that a diamond might have been “enhanced” from its base form and the vendor knows that an evaluation will reveal the true integrity of the stone.

A stone’s flaws, inclusions, fractures, and tints can be treated and hidden via various methods. The treatment often depletes the quality and value of the diamond – making it look great, but in reality just hiding how terrible it really is.

For example, small incisions or holes can be filled with molten glass, which improves the clarity of the diamond by several grades, while potentially deteriorating the surrounding stone surface. In some odd cases, vendors will go as far, as using cheap materials, instead of glass. Bromine is one of them and is known to ruin the color of stone over time due to ultraviolet exposure.

Some diamonds can be treated with high-intensity laser technologies that can remove some of the flaws. The treatment involves several small incisions and holes that are used for the projection of specialized light.

For obvious reasons, a diamond with holes in it is going to be worse than one without. Diamonds that range in the S to Z color rating – can be treated with HPHT (high-press, high temperature) projections that make the stone brighter and whiter than what they really are. HPHT makes a stone brittle and fragile, which proves to be bad for the longevity of a diamond.

However, the methods listed above can prove to be useful to those who want to purchase larger stones for a modest amount.

Large diamonds with visible fracturing or color tinting can be bought at a 30+% discount and then visually improved via various enhancement methods, which would make the entire cost for acquisition less than that of a high-grade diamond.

What Are The Best Diamond Certification Agencies?

In the realm of diamond evaluation, there are several reputable grading labs with different names and different approaches to their method. However, beyond the most popular agencies that we will list below, there are hundreds of others that are not as trustworthy.

1. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA)

The Gemological Institute of America is the origin behind the science of stone grading and their GIA Diamond Dossier is proven to be the best in the industry.

The GIA process is conducted with the most restricted standards for evaluation and is completed by teams of astutely and vocationally educated professionals that know their way around advanced evaluation technologies.

2. The American Gem Society (AGS)

The American Gem Society does not fall behind GIA in their quality of work. They are a leading agency in the field of diamond grading.

In addition to their extensive AGS loose cut stone reports, the AGS also provides a large-scale education platform with various programs in gemological certification and appraisal methodologies.

3. The International Gemological Institute (IGI)

The International Gemological Institute is another wonderful agency that is known for its high rate of success and proficiency in diamond evaluation. Much like AGS, they also provide an extensive educational program.

If you are not located in the US, the IGI certification is the best international report providing an in-depth overview that assures the quality of each evaluated stone.

4. The European Gemological Laboratory (EGL)

In Europe, The European Gemological Laboratory is known for some of the most comprehensive diamond evaluations and their in-house creation of new clarity grades, that were previously unheard of.

For example, the SI3 grade is given to stones that have inclusions that cannot be seen by the regular eye and precede the flaws in the SI2 grade.

Other Diamond Certification Agencies:

The true difference between the grading systems in use by these agencies is the Synaptics upon which the stone color and clarity are evaluated.

However, the GIA is known for its integration of a standardized evaluation, which they update on a regular basis. Considering this, you should be careful with old certifications that possess information from an ancient grading system, as they can be at the least – not accurate.

Each and every agency provides a wide range of report types that cover a variety of characteristics and qualities of stone. For example, the GIA provides the Diamond Dossier and the Diamond Report.

A GIA Diamond Dossier entails some basic information upon the 4Cs of a diamond. Beyond the basic data, they also include the diamond’s measurements, angles, and fluorescence.

If the report is requested with ‘cut’ information, it will have intricate details on the dimensions, such as the girdle thickness, pavilion angles, and crow.

Whereas, a GIA Diamond Report is much more detailed. It contains all of the information from the Dossier + a visual scheme of the diamond’s inclusions and flaws. This additional data allows the owner to identify a certification and match it with the stone with complete assurance.

As inclusions are one of a kind and can be recognized without the use of serial number technologies.

Having a visual foundation is great when you need to re-certify a stone. Daily use stones can become victim to chipping and scratches – flaws that must be identified as new, in order to prove that the stone matches the cert.

The EGL reports include a grade on the stone’s symmetry and polish by examining the cut of the diamond.

The IGI reports include a grade upon the finish of a stone. Much like the EGL – reviewing the cut and polish.

How To Interpret The Information?

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Most of the agencies provide an instructive material or guide along with the reports, however – you can compare the information to various premium diamond grading parameters that can be found on the internet or on our website. [link to chart]

How Can You Be Certain A Diamond Certification Is Correct?

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In some cases, a diamond can be engraved with laser technology, leaving an imprint of a serial number or another identifier on the girdle. This number is made to match the certificate papers.

However, an engraved serial number can be brought down and repolished, in order to remove the traceable signature for the stone. This can be a problem when dealing with vendors, as they are able to replace stones at their convenience using this method.

In order to avoid in-house certification problems – you are better off using a third-party professional evaluation service.

All diamonds are different in some unique way. They vary in weight, angle risings, measurement, and proportion.

Most in-house certificates do not include this information, but you can rest assured that a third-party evaluator will include all of the necessary details. Albeit, this comes at a higher cost.

When you have a detailed certificate, you can seek an independent appraisal specialist, which is often titled, as a Graduate Gemologist. These appraisers are not stone vendors and have no interest in your purchase or sale – they are most likely to provide an honest and accurate evaluation for the potential monetary value of the stone.

If you are having trouble finding a GG, you can attend a jeweler who will be able to schedule an appointment with an appraiser. When evaluating a stone, it is important to not rush the parties doing the inspection, not to distract the appraisers, be ready to shell out some money for the fee and be polite.

Helpful tip: It’s better not to provide the certificate to the appraiser before they begin, as they will be able to duplicate the results, which will provide you with a tasteful fragment of hope for the stone’s true value.

Diamonds can be manipulated, but a certification that presents the stone’s inclusions is your best bet. As inclusion is the most reliable identifier for a stone’s identity.

What About Synthetic Diamonds?

Synthetic diamonds often have the same visual and key qualities that a real diamond would have. However, when purchasing a synthetic diamond – you should also consider certification, as it is the only way to verify the integrity with an unbiased report.

Using a certification service provider, such as GIA, AGS or EGL will prove to remove any worry over the quality of your diamond simulants.

However, some stones like Zirconia and Maissonite cannot be certified in the same way that a real stone can.

The Difference Between Appraisal And Diamond Certification

The term appraisal by itself represents the evaluation in a monetary form for an object or property. From this we can consider that appraisal is the process, in which a stone/diamond is evaluated, resulting in an assigned monetary value.

An appraisal on loose stones is more accurate, in comparison to a mounted diamond evaluation, since the flaws and blemishes are less likely to be hidden.

The evaluation of a diamond is dependent on who is conducting the appraisal, by what criteria, for what purpose and when. A former appraisal can become useless by the changes in the fluctuating market conditions, therefore diamond certification is the market-resistant method for evaluating a stone.

If a certified stone has been mounted upon a jewelry piece, it might not need a new certificate, in order to compensate for the everyday wear and tear that would deteriorate the stone’s integrity with scratches and chips. In some cases, a specific ring design requires cutting a stone, pounding and placing it in position.

Recertification is bound to be necessary to provide an up-to-date evaluation. Diamond certification is a more pragmatic and scientific approach to evaluating a stone and its qualities.

Through certification, you can become accustomed to the renowned 4Cs of a diamond.

Color, Cut, Clarity, Carat.

Unlike appraisal, certification does not place a monetary value on a stone, it only grades the key characteristics.

In Summary

A diamond certification assists the owner, buyer or seller to determine the true identity, quality, and integrity of a diamond.

By doing, so they can rest assured that the sale will be authentic and reasonable.

If you have the purchase of a diamond in mind, this article provides the basic fundamental understanding of diamond grading and evaluation.