Perhaps you’ve heard that some diamond rings sold are “certified”, as opposed to those that are “non-certified”. But what exactly do these terms mean, and what is the difference between these two kinds of rings?
What Does “Certified Diamond Ring” Mean?
People often refer to diamond rings as “certified” or “non-certified”, but this is not the most accurate usage of these terms.
To be more precise, rings are not usually certified – but the stones they contain can be.
So, when it is said that a diamond ring is certified, what this means is that the diamond (or diamonds) in it comes with a certificate describing its quality characteristics.
In contrast, if a ring is said to be non-certified, this most likely means that it doesn’t come with a certificate for its diamond.
What Information Can You Find in a Diamond Ring’s Certificate?
As already mentioned, a diamond certificate, or a diamond grading report, is a document that contains information on the most important quality characteristics of a diamond.
These characteristics are evaluated and documented by a grading laboratory, such as the lab of the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) or AGS (American Gem Society).
A diamond certificate usually contains grades and values for the four most important features of a stone (a.k.a. the 4 Cs), which affect its price to the greatest extent: color, clarity, cut, and carat weight.
Other diamond characteristics that can be described in a certificate are the stone’s polish, symmetry, dimensions, fluorescence (if any), etc.
Benefits of Buying a Diamond Ring with a Certificate
So, what are the benefits of buying a diamond ring that comes with a certificate for its center stone?
First of all, a certificate provides third-party verification of the seller’s claims as to the quality of the diamond.
Vendors can tell you a lot of things about a stone, but having a confirmation of these statements by an independent certifier gives you additional assurance.
Having a certificate that contains grades for the color, clarity, and cut of the ring’s diamond makes it easier for you to know what you are actually buying.
You can easily compare the price asked for a stone with the prices of other similar diamonds and thus make a more informed purchase decision.
As you can see, a diamond certificate could help you to find out whether you would be overpaying if you bought a certain ring, or whether a piece of diamond jewelry is a good bargain.
Last but not least, if you ever want to sell the ring, it is always better to have a certificate for its diamond.
This way, you can prove more easily to potential buyers what the quality of the stone is, and you yourself will be better informed regarding how much it is worth.
Note: You can always have the diamond in your ring certified, if it is not, but you will need to have the stone removed from the setting and then send the diamond to a grading lab.
Should You Buy Rings with Non-Certified Diamonds?
But what about “non-certified diamond rings” – those not accompanied by grading reports for their diamonds?
It is generally risky to buy diamond rings that come with no certificates for their center stones.
You won’t know whether their quality is exactly as claimed, and you might end up paying more than you have to for a piece that has lower quality than advertized but is priced too high.
That being said, there are diamond rings that usually don’t come with a certificate, and that’s not a problem.
One example is rings with a lot of small stones (e.g., pave-set diamonds) – certifying all of them is impractical, and many vendors don’t bother, as these stones are very cheap taken individually and have simplified cuts (also called single cuts).
If you are buying a ring with a big center diamond, however, you should make sure that the stone comes with some guarantee of quality.
It is suggested that you also do the same for all side stones that are bigger than 0.20-0.25 carats.
Where to Buy a Diamond Ring?
For diamond rings, we highly recommend James Allen (read our review) because it shows real photos and videos for each diamond so you can take a 360-degree look at any stone before having it set in a ring.
For colored diamonds, we recommend Leibish & Co., which specializes in fancy color diamonds (use code JewelryNotes200 at checkout to get a 5% discount).
Also read our Diamond Buying Guide and check out our selection of eye-clean diamonds that we've vetted for quality.