A lot of people look specifically for GIA-certified diamonds when shopping for jewelry, and making these purchases online is becoming more and more popular because it is quick and convenient.
Let’s take a look at the benefits of GIA certificates and see what you should pay attention to when buying certified diamonds online.
What Is a GIA Certificate?
A GIA certificate is simply a document issued by the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) listing the most important quality characteristics of a particular diamond.
These characteristics have been evaluated after the stone has been inspected by the professional gemologists working at the Institute’s labs.
Usually, a certificate issued by the GIA will contain information on the color, clarity, cut, and carat weight of the diamond, along with grades for each of these characteristics.
The document will also likely include information on how well polished the stone is, how symmetrical its facets are, whether it exhibits fluorescence under UV light, as well as a diagram showing the diamond’s dimensions and proportions.
Why Is GIA Certification Important?
It is important to make sure that the diamond you buy is accompanied by a certificate because this document attests that the stone’s quality has been vetted by an independent professional.
Without a diamond certificate, you have no impartial verification of whether the seller’s claims as to the stone’s characteristics are accurate.
This is not to say that the only certificates worthy of trust are those issued by the GIA.
There are other reputable labs that certify diamonds, and their certificates are just as valid. For example, the AGS (American Gem Society) and the EGL (European Gemological Laboratory) are both respected authorities whose certificates you can trust.
Where to Buy a GIA-Certified Diamond Online?
There are many vendors that sell diamonds online, and the most reputable sellers will offer only stones that are certified.
While we will not recommend any particular vendor, we encourage you to check a number of websites – the ones that sell certified diamonds will have included the type of certificate each stone comes with next to its characteristics.
As already mentioned, certificates issued by the GIA, EGL, or AGL are among the most reputable and popular, so look for these abbreviations when checking out the details about a particular diamond.
Usually, if a stone is certified, you will be able to see a copy of its original certificate online – and we do not recommend buying a diamond without seeing its certificate.
How to Select an Online Diamond Vendor
After you have narrowed down your vendor choices to websites offering certified diamonds, it’s time to take a closer look at what each seller has to offer.
One of the most important considerations when buying a diamond online is whether you can see the stone before you order it.
This is crucial because the quality grades in a certificate only tell you so much – they cannot show you how the stone will look when worn.
For example, a diamond’s clarity grade does not necessarily tell you how visible its flaws are likely to be in different circumstances.
Stones of the same clarity can differ with respect to the location and prominence of their inclusions, whose visibility may be enhanced or diminished by the diamond’s level of brilliance, which in turn depends on the stone’s cut.
As you can see, a diamond’s appearance is the result of the interplay of a number of factors, whose combined effect is hard to assess if you cannot see the stone with your eyes.
This is why we recommend that you look for sellers that show real high-quality pictures of each stone offered.
Not all websites allow you to take a good look at the diamonds sold, though.
However, if you think that a certain stone is a good deal and you are confident that its quality characteristics are what you are looking for, go ahead.
But before you buy it, don’t forget to read the return policy of the seller – if it turns out that you don’t like how the diamond looks when you receive it, you should be able to return it within a reasonable period.
What to Look for in a GIA-Certified Diamond
There is a lot of detailed information on how to select a diamond, so here we will outline just the most important points to pay attention to when buying a diamond. The major characteristics to examine in a diamond’s certificate are its color, clarity, cut, and carat weight.
Color refers to whether the diamond is colorless or has a visible tint, and if there is any color, how strong it is. The lower a diamond’s color grade, the lower the price, but also the more yellowish the stone will look.
The clarity grade of a diamond denotes how visible its natural internal and surface flaws are. In stones of lower clarity you can see more easily black dots, lines, clouds, and other imperfections.
As far as actual clarity grades go, it is not recommended that you go below SI1 or SI2 on the GIA scale, as lower-graded diamonds have defects that are easily visible with the naked eye.
The cut of a diamond is of utmost importance for its appearance because it determines how the stone will reflect light.
Diamonds with better cuts exhibit more brilliance, which can make yellowish color tints or natural flaws less visible. For that reason, it is not recommended that you skimp on cut, even if you have to compromise on color or clarity.
Our advice is to go for diamonds with a cut grade of at least Good on the GIA scale.
The carat of a diamond simply refers to how much the stone weighs (1 carat = 0.2 grams), and the greater the carat number, the bigger the stone.
While the size of the diamond is up to you, keep in mind that bigger stones cost more per carat as they are rarer.
Moreover, the bigger size of such diamonds is more likely to make their imperfections or color tints visible, especially if the stone is of a lower clarity or color grade.
After the Diamond Is Received
When you receive your diamond, don’t forget to inspect it closely, preferably using a loupe. You should do so not only to examine the stone’s actual quality but also to check whether the diamond you got matches the one described in the certificate.
Certified diamonds often come with a unique number assigned to them for identification.
This ID should be printed on the certificate, and the number is also often laser-inscribed on the stone’s girdle (the widest part, or the edge, of the diamond). Check if these two numbers match.
Another way to check whether you have the right diamond is to look at its diagram in the certificate. This diagram contains the stone’s visible inclusions, which are plotted as in a map.
Look at your diamond’s inclusions with a loupe, and check if their locations match the layout in the certificate.
Where to Buy Diamonds and Diamond Jewelry?
For diamond jewelry, we highly recommend James Allen because it shows real photos and videos for each diamond so you can take a 360-degree look at any stone before buying it.
For colored diamonds, we recommend Leibish & Co., which specializes in fancy color diamonds (use code JewelryNotes200 at checkout to get a 5% discount).