What is Diamond Certification and do I need this when buying a Diamond Ring?
There are so many things to consider when buying a diamond such as the carat weight; The colour of the stone; The clarity and the cut of the diamond, these are known as the 4 c`s in the diamond world, but with the brilliant information that we now have available to us on the Internet, we are also seeing something called Certification of a Diamond.
So What is a Diamond Certificate?
Diamond Certificates are normally issued by a Laboratory which grades the diamond and then gives you a certificate which tells you all about that stone. If it is a full certificate it will give a pictorial view of that diamond and show the proportions of that diamond. Also on the certificate will be the colour of the diamond, the clarity grade, the shape, the cut, and the fluorescence, all of these are important as individual items but are extremely important when you put them all together; Why ? Because to a Diamond Grader who can read these certificates in fine detail it gives them an over all picture which helps to provide a price for a given diamond.
When someone asks what is more important is it Colour or Clarity ? I can honestly say that ALL aspects of the diamond are important, and if you put all of those aspects together in one document you have the Diamond Certificate. A document that tells you every thing you need to know about that particular diamond.
So when you look for a diamond and find one that has a certificate it gives you confidence that the Laboratory has viewed it and graded it, giving it their seal of approval and this in turn gives you Confidence that what you are buying has met a certain standard and criteria.
Now whilst that is true for that Laboratory we come to a slight anomaly, and that is, there are numerous laboratories who are grading diamonds. In an ideal world we would like to think that they are all working to the same standard, after all when you go to the local shop to buy a bolt it comes in a certain size and you would expect it to fit no matter who made it, this is what standardisation is all about. This is, of course, true when a diamond is measured using accurate instruments but when it comes down to colour and clarity these are highly subjective. One man may see a G colour diamond as an F colour and another may see it as bordering on an H.
You can see that this is now becoming quite complex as even the best gemologists in the world see things slightly different. Introduce something called clarity, which are the amount of inclusions seen inside a diamond ( and they all have some ) which can be varied, we now have another variable. Inclusions are different and there are at least 10 different types, feathers, pinpoints, clouds, needles and so on. Whilst these can sometimes be seen with the naked eye, others have to be looked for by using 10x lenses or using a microscope.
From my view as a diamond grader, I see various situations that make life for the laboratories quite difficult, let me give you an example. If I were to look at a diamond that was given an Si clarity grade, and in the first example there were inclusions in the centre of the diamond and in the second example there were inclusions around the outer edge of the stone. I would grade the diamond with the inclusions around the outer edge better than the one with the inclusions in the centre. The one diamond I would grade as an Si1 the other as an Si2, this is because the eye is drawn to the inclusions in the center of the stone and I believe they become more obvious than those on the outer edge and in this case there should be a difference as to the clarity grading. Most certificates would give both diamonds the same clarity grading so there is room for the grader to manoeuvre and change the grade.
If all of this is confusing to you the buyer, imagine that we have 10 top Independent laboratories, all trying to grade diamonds with the sole intention of providing the public with accurate certificates !! It is little wonder that some of these labs disagree with each other`s findings.
Certain labs have a vested interest in upgrading the value of the diamond by giving it a higher grade, because in doing so, the diamond can be sold for a higher price as an example. Let us say that Lab A grades a diamond as a F colour and a Vs 1 clarity and Lab B grades the diamond as a G colour and an Si clarity, it will be a fact that the one from Lab A will be worth more than the diamond graded by Lab B. Dependent upon the size of the stone it could be the difference of thousand of pounds, which laboratory is likely to get the most business..of course the one that gives the better grade.
Generally speaking we can be sure that having a diamond certificate will give you a feeling of confidence, knowing that your diamond is a given weight, a given colour and a given clarity, and that the jewellery shop or online shop is telling you the facts about your stone.
All good Laboratories will indicate whether your diamond has been “enhanced ” or altered in any way, which will affects value and its life. An enhanced diamond could have been fracture filled or laser drilled and this is something you the buyer needs to know and something that the dealer needs to know, so that they can declare it to their client.
A good diamond certificate should pick up on all of the ” naughty ” things that may have been done to a diamond and this is an important safeguard for the buyer, knowing that the diamond has been checked thoroughly by a team of gemologists, trained in their field.
Diamond Grading Certificate
Sometimes a jeweller will say that there is a certificate with the diamond but in actual fact what they mean is that they have assessed the diamond and graded it themselves. Now this may be good enough if they are capable of doing that but it is very open to the jeweller putting his slant on what he considers the diamond to be.
As a diamond grader I am more than competent to grade a diamond up to laboratory standard, but generally speaking my advice is get a laboratory certificate with your diamond or diamond ring which means that a third party ( ie the laboratory ) gives the grading on the diamond and not the jeweller.
There is, of course, a price to pay for having a laboratory certificate with your diamond and this naturally increases the price you have to pay. As with anything this guarantee of the diamond being of a certain standard costs money but I believe it is money well spent.
Do not be surprised to pay a lot more for the laboratory certified diamond than for a diamond with a jewellers own certificate. Many smaller stones of 0.25 to 0.3 carat are not given a certificate because of the cost involved and their selling price does not warrant the extra cost involved.