As you start your diamond research, one of the first things you learn is to always look for a grading report. But… which grading report and from which lab? There are hundreds of labs out there, many in different countries and with many different standards. With so many conflicting information out there, we’re here to help clear up some confusion.
Before the 1950’s, there was no such thing as a diamond report. Jewelers, gemologists, or anyone in the diamond industry could decide the color, clarity, cut all willy-nilly and set prices according to their own opinions. When Robert Liddicoat’s diamond grading system became an international standard, that’s when the diamond industry started getting it together. Liddicoat is considered the founding father of gems and jewelry, and his work at GIA (Gemological Institute of America) has been a huge freaking deal. That’s why GIA is considered the top grading lab for diamonds and colored stones, they’re like the Ferrrari of the diamond industry.
Understanding the GIA Grading Reports
All of us at Diamonds Forever are trained at GIA, and so we’re partial to their reports. We know that before a diamond receives its official grade, it has been graded by at least 3 highly-trained gemologists in a crazily-controlled environment. The lighting, the air temperature, the microscope are all set to specific standards. We trust GIA’s knowledge and expertise.
GIA is also a non-profit organization, they have no interest in the diamonds they’re grading and do not even suggest a price for the diamond.
However, we think it wise for you to understand how GIA compares to the other big labs out there. Labs such as EGL (European Gemological Laboratory), AGS (American Gem Society, and HRD (Hoor Raad voor Diamant or in English, the High Diamond Council).
In this first post, we will compare GIA and EGL. We don’t see as much diamonds graded from HRD because they’re mostly in Europe or AGS because they’re a smaller lab.
Understanding EGL USA Report Checks and International Reports
Now EGL. EGL actually has a couple labs that use the same name but are completely different from one another. There is EGL USA comprising of Los Angeles and New York, EGL Israel or EGL International, and EGL India. This is important because they grade diamonds very differently from one another.
So if GIA is the top-dog, how do EGL USA, EGL International, and EGL India compare to it?
In their color, clarity, and cut grading, EGL USA is usually 1-2 grades off from GIA, EGL International and EGL India is about 3-4 grades off. That’s a huge difference.
One of the reasons we don’t recommend buying diamonds online is because of this. We have clients who have ordered their diamond online, only to receive it and see that their “G” color diamond is very yellow, like a “J” color and then they realize it was an EGL International report.
You might be asking yourself, well why would I even consider buying an EGL diamond now? It comes down to budget. GIA-graded diamonds command a premium; EGL diamonds often come at a discount. The reason for this is because getting a GIA diamond graded costs more than EGL, so that cost is absorbed into the price of the diamond. Furthermore, because the demands are higher for a GIA-graded diamond, it pushes their price up as well.
We have seen beautiful EGL stones, so don’t let the name scare you away. Just be aware and double-check to see if that color and clarity bothers you. It’s better for you to come into the store and see with your own eyes the difference between the labs. We work with each client to figure out what they’re looking for and show them live examples of the difference in grading reports so that you find the best diamond for you. If you’re interested in seeing the difference, give us a call at (619) 223-2151 or use our Contact page!