Many people have heard of certified diamonds, but not all consumers are sure what this term exactly means. And a lot of people don’t know how non-certified diamonds are different from those that come with a certificate. Let’s take a closer look at the differences between certified and non-certified diamonds.
What Are Certified Diamonds?
Certified diamonds are stones whose quality characteristics have been evaluated by a gemstone grading lab.
The results of the assessment are recorded in a grading report, which is what most people call a “diamond certificate.”
So, when a diamond is referred to as certified, this simply means that its quality has been examined and verified by an expert third-party (which is different from the vendor selling the stone).
Who Certifies Diamonds?
Diamonds are certified by independent experts, who are trained in gemology. One of the most respected certification authorities is the G.I.A. (Gemological Institute of America).
For example, click here to see a selection of diamonds that have been certified by the G.I.A. If you click on any one of the stones, you will be able to see a link to its certificate next to its picture.
You should remember that certification makes sense to you as a buyer only if it is done by a third party that is not connected with the jeweler selling you the diamond.Black Friday Deal: Click here to get up to 50% OFF engagement ring settings from James Allen.
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After all, if the seller can influence how his or her merchandise is evaluated, the quality assessment may be biased, and that’s not what you want.
What Information Is Included in a Diamond Certificate?
Diamond certificates include information about the quality characteristics that are deemed most important for a loose diamond. At the very least, a grading report contains information on the so-called 4 C’s: color, clarity, cut, and carat.
Each of these four characteristics is assigned a grade, which in turn affects the price of the stone.
Grading reports also often contain information about the symmetry of the diamond’s facets, how well polished the stone is, whether the diamond exhibits fluorescence under UV light, etc.
Usually, the certificate also includes a diagram illustrating the most important proportions of the stone.
Difference Between a Diamond Certificate and an Appraisal
Diamond certificate and appraisal are terms that are often confused. An appraisal is a document that puts a monetary value on a diamond (or a piece of jewelry); it is often used to determine how much you should pay for the insurance of the stone.
A diamond certificate, on the other hand, does not value the stone in dollar terms; the purpose of this report is to document key quality characteristics, without giving an opinion on how much the diamond should cost.
What Does a “Certified Diamond Ring” Mean?
People often refer to diamond rings as “certified” or “non-certified”, but this is not the most accurate use 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 grading report 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 grading report for its diamond.
What Are Non-certified Diamonds?
Non-certified diamonds are simply stones that do not come with a grading report. These diamonds have been cut and polished, but for some reason, the seller has decided not to have their quality graded by a third party.
Why Some Diamonds Do Not Have a Certificate
The reasons for not having a diamond certified can be many.
Certification costs money, and some merchants don’t want to incur additional expenses.
This is often the case with low-quality diamonds whose inferiority is obvious – for such stones, a certificate would not help them sell better anyway.
And there are also sellers who prefer to offer non-certified stones so that they can present the quality of these diamonds in the best possible light.
What Is the Difference Between Certified and Non-certified Diamonds?
Non-certified diamonds are not necessarily of lower quality compared with certified ones.
In fact, not having a certificate doesn’t tell you anything about a stone’s quality – the lack of such a document just tells you that there is no verified information about the diamond’s characteristics.
Because their exact quality is unknown, non-certified diamonds are riskier to purchase compared with certified stones: You simply don’t know whether the price asked for a non-certified stone is fair relative to its quality.
The price tag might sometimes seem low, but it might turn out that diamonds of the same quality grade have a market price that is even lower.
Certified diamonds, on the other hand, are a much safer bet. While a certificate does not guarantee high quality, it assures that it is what the seller claims it to be.
In a sense, a grading report serves as a seal of approval by a third-party expert and provides you with a quality evaluation that is more precise than what your own assessment is likely to be.
(Even expert diamond graders need a microscope and other tools to establish exact quality grades for cut, color, and clarity.)
So What If a Diamond Is Not Certified?
Certification matters to you as a buyer because it provides an independent verification of a diamond’s quality.
Without a certificate, you can never be certain what you are buying. If a diamond is not certified, your only source of information about its quality is the seller, and needless to say, the merchant’s assessment is not likely to be the most objective.
If the seller exaggerates the quality of an non-certified diamond, you may end up overpaying for a stone that would be put in a lower price range if it were certified.
Should You Buy Non-certified Diamonds?
Unless you have a lot of experience in diamond grading and feel confident that you can establish correctly the quality of a stone, it is recommended that you always buy diamonds that come with a grading report.
This will ensure that the vendor does not misrepresent the quality of the stone.
Moreover, the information in such a certificate would allow you to look up the prices of other diamonds with the same characteristics and check if the price asked is too high compared with market prices.
It is very important for the certificate to be issued by a reputable third-party organization that is independent of the seller. Look for reports issued by the G.I.A., E.G.L., A.G.S., I.G.I., or C.I.B.J.O.
A Note: Diamond Quality Is Not Set in Stone
Although diamond grading labs follow robust guidelines when evaluating diamonds, the exact grade on any given characteristic ultimately comes down to the opinion of the expert making the assessment.
Laboratories try to make the process as accurate as possible by requiring that each stone be assessed by multiple graders.
However, due to the inherent subjectivity of diamond grading, merchants are allowed to have some leeway when representing a diamond’s quality to the customer. They are allowed to increase the color and clarity grades of a stone, but by no more than one grade up from what the diamond would be graded by an independent appraiser.
So, you should keep in mind that if you are buying an non-certified diamond, the jeweler may be giving you an optimistic assessment of its quality and this can be perfectly legal.
Buying Certified Diamonds: What You Should Pay Attention To
When shopping for diamonds, you should not only check if the stone you are buying is certified, but also make sure that the certificate is issued by a reputable grading lab that is independent of the seller.
The most important characteristics you should be looking at when reading the certificate are the diamond’s color, cut, clarity, and carat weight: These features determine how white, brilliant and clean the stone will look, as well as how much you will have to pay for it.
To make sure that the diamond you are looking at is the same as the one described in the certificate, you can check the stone’s inscription, which is a combination of letters and numbers usually engraved with laser on the edge of the diamond.
This inscription can be seen with a loupe and should match the diamond’s serial number on the report. Not all certified stones have a laser inscription, but inscribed diamonds are preferable because they can be identified more easily.
The Bottom Line
If you want to make sure that the quality of the diamond you buy is what the jeweler claims it to be, always ask for a certificate, and don’t buy non-certified stones.
We recommend buying diamonds from vendors such as James Allen, which sell stones certified by the G.I.A. and other reputable labs.
If the diamond doesn’t come with a grading report, there is no way of knowing what the stone’s exact quality is.
Differences between adjacent color grades, for example, can be so subtle as to be invisible to the naked eye.
However, they could make a big difference to your wallet, especially if you buy a non-certified diamond that has its color bumped up by one grade.