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It may seem as if a diamond is a diamond, but unfortunately for the untrained buyer, this is not the case. Different certifications of diamonds ensure different aspects of a diamond are up to par. Is it completely necessary to buy a certified diamond? No, but all of the leading jewelers recommend a certified diamond to ensure a quality stone at a reasonable price.
A certified diamond not only ensures quality, but it also holds its value better for resale purposes, makes comparing diamonds to buy much simpler, and opens up online retailers to make shopping much easier. First-time buyers should be aware of the difference between a diamond appraisal and a diamond certificate. A diamond appraisal is through the retailer and is usually a much higher value (similar to how a car salesman is going to increase the price in order to make a bigger profit), and a diamond certificate is an unbiased examination through a gemological institution (which means a buyer will get a more accurate idea of the value of the gem).
A diamond certification is distributed by a gemological laboratory. A certificate would include a diamond’s carat, measurement, cut, color, and clarity. However, there is no one exact certificate. Each certificate is created by a trained professional, but each laboratory has a grading scale that is subjective to its own standards. Certificates may also include other additional information about the diamond’s inclusions, polish, and shine.
GIA, or the Gemological Institute of America, was established in 1931. This nonprofit institute prides itself on being a reliable source of information on standards and education of the gemstone industry. A GIA certification requires a multitude of steps and courses, including a diploma through a curriculum based heavily in research and instruction from the nation’s leading diamond experts.
GIA was originally founded by Robert M. Shipley, a middle-aged former retail jeweler from Wichita, Kansas. Originally, he attempted to form the institute in the 20’s, but was, embarrassingly, put in his place by his simple lack of knowledge surrounding gemstones. Through hard work, dedication, and classes from Great Britain’s National Association of Goldsmiths, Shipley made an attempt at creating the institute once more. Although this time around was during the Great Depression, Shipley managed to establish an institute that, to this day, aspiring jewelers flock to for instruction.
One of the most popular accomplishments of the GIA was the grading of the Hope Diamond in 1988. Throughout the years, GIA schools have opened up across Europe and Asia, making its knowledge more widespread; eventually, there will be schools across the globe. In 2007, GIA established the 4Cs, the most popular grading system for diamonds.
As opposed to the EGL certificate (which is also a strong form of grading), the GIA has the strictest grading system among all of the most popular laboratories. It is also known as the most consistent grading system. The GIA is considered the basis for diamond grading since it developed the 4Cs, and most other laboratories are compared to it.
EGL, or European Gemological Laboratory, is one of the oldest and largest gemological laboratories in the world. Although it was originally a part of a larger network of institutions in Europe, EGL USA has split into its own institution covering strictly North America. In terms of age for EGL vs. GIA, EGL is much newer. This North American institution opened its doors in 1977 in New York and became independently owned in 1986.
EGL USA has a strict policy for grading similar to that of GIA. However, buyers should beware. Although the institution is not affiliated with institutions of the same name such as EGL Israel or EGL International, the other institutions send out diamond certifications that may be misleading. Using only the name EGL and assessing diamonds less strictly may lead to customers purchasing diamonds less spectacular than they originally intended. Therefore, when purchasing an EGL certified diamond, buyers are urged to be wary.
In general, With Clarity suggests a GIA vs. EGL diamond, and for that reason, we offer GIA certified diamonds. The main difference between GIA and EGL is that GIA diamonds are examined by four or more gem experts before a certification is made, leading to consistency among all of the diamonds. Although EGL is still considered strict among gemological institutions, an EGL vs. GIA certification is much more lenient. An EGL USA vs. GIA USA diamond will usually be graded down two color grades and one on clarity. Therefore, the GIA diamond is usually seen as a more confident choice for the buyer. However, there are benefits to choosing an EGL certified diamond; the quality may not always be a guarantee, but with an GIA versus EGL diamond certification, the price is typically lower with an EGL certified diamond. For a more budget-friendly option, we also offer lab diamonds, which are IGI certified.