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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Is Your Diamond Certified? Who Certified It?

You're not a jeweler, right? You have no idea what a good diamond is. You leave that up to the professionals to tell you. As any good consumer, you do your basic research to figure out what others say about purchasing said item before actually spending the money, but again, you defer to the experts to rate something. Having done your research, you would know that one of the first questions you should ask before committing to the purchase of a diamond is whether or not it is certified.

What does it mean to say that a diamond is "certified?" To put it simply, it means that the diamond has gone through a series of tests to grade it on several qualities. The overall quality and weight of the diamond is based on four factors, also known as the 4 C's in the diamond world: cut, clarity, color, and carat. When a diamond is certified it is tested using somewhat standardized procedures to determine the stone's grade in each of those four categories. This is the process of grading/certifying a diamond. Based on the results of the testing, the value of the stone can be determined...the better the test results, the more expensive the stone. Also, the better the test results the prettier the diamond is.

The two most common laboratories that are responsible for diamond grading/testing are GIA (Gemological Institute of America) and EGL. However, some jewelry stores have a graduate gemologist that is certified to grade the loose diamonds that they sell. It is imperative that you know who certified your diamond to ensure there are no ulterior motives and less bias. While these gemologists may be honest people, their companies may not be.

They may require the gemologist to falsely grade a diamond higher in certain areas to pad the selling price of the stone. Though most of the procedures put in place by the GIA organization to grade diamonds are standardized, there are certain categories (i.e. color) that are more subjective. GIA attempts to circumvent the subjective portion by using computer programs to analyze stones and give them the closest matching grade to that of a previous stone, or having another individual study the stone and give their grade to see if their opinion is in line with the initial inspector. In the diamond industry, we call this the "5th C"....certification.

If you compare two stones that appear to have the same exact specifications according to their certification, but have huge discrepancies, certification may be the problem. It is advisable that you do not purchase diamonds that are certified by someone who works for the company, as this can pose a conflict of interest. Instead, analyze the certification to ensure you're getting a fair grading so you can feel secure in the quality of the diamond as well as the pricing.