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Read The Diamond Grading Report Before Buying An Engagement Ring
Not all sellers offer diamond grading lab reports (also known as diamond quality reports) to consumers. So my general advice to you is to keep your money in your pocket when dealing with such jewelers.
Only buy diamond engagement rings with original diamond quality reports.
A laboratory report is an independent assessment of the 4Cs of a loose diamond and includes a plot of the diamond’s clarity characteristics and a graphical representation of the diamond’s proportions. With a report like this, you can compare diamonds of different qualities and ultimately help you make more informed buying decisions.
A retailer may cut corners and not provide a lab report, or an unscrupulous seller may provide a fake report because he will bear the time, trouble and expense of grading the gemstone.
Yes – there is a price for diamond grading (although that cost is ultimately paid by the consumer), plus shipping and insurance to get the diamond to the lab. Let’s not forget the jeweler’s opportunity cost of not having a diamond in his store for weeks while he is grading.
However, it may not be possible to obtain a diamond grading report as the cost of obtaining the certificate may have too much impact on the final price of the ring.
For example, a $250 ring with a 0.3 carat diamond might cost around $75 to have it graded and have a report number engraved on the diamond’s girdle.
When you’re looking for the ideal diamond engagement ring for your sweetheart, you’ll find a host of laboratories claiming to provide reputable diamond grading reports. But I’ll just put my money in…
Premier Diamond Grading Lab Report
Yes, not all diamond quality reports are created equal. In the industry, the two recognized laboratories are GIA-GTL (Gemological Institute of America Gem Trade Laboratory) and AGS (American Gem Society Laboratory).
GCAL (Gem Certification and Assurance Laboratory) also provides a highly regarded report or what GCAL refers to as a “Diamond Certificate”.
GIA has one of the strongest global reputations for independence and consistency. The world’s largest and most expensive diamonds have been sent there for decades to be graded due to their consistent strict guidelines for color and clarity. In 2006, GIA-GTL added a two-dimensional cut grading system for round brilliant diamonds.
AGS uses the strictest cutting standards in the industry. It uses a three-dimensional light performance index that can grade a variety of diamond shapes. In fact, it is the only cut grading system recognized by the scientific community.
Additionally, its diamond quality files evaluate the 4 Cs using a unique and proprietary 0 to 10 grading system—a system that is easier to understand than GIA’s grading system. In fact, AGS goes even further, equating their 0-10 rating scale with other forms of ratings.
For example, the traditional VS1 diamond clarity grade is 3 on the AGS Diamond Quality File.
Diamond Report – Cons
1. Diamond grading is not standardized or regulated, so you may come across a Class 2 lab with more relaxed guidelines than the Class 1 grading labs above.
If you buy a diamond that has been graded by a Level 2 lab, you may end up paying more for a lower quality diamond. So, for example, a diamond with a color grade of “F” at a Class 2 lab might receive a color grade of G, H, or lower at a more reputable lab.
The industry also discounts lesser-known lab-graded diamonds by about 15-30% or more. Therefore, you are either only buying diamonds graded by a Level 1 lab, or you acknowledge that if the diamond is graded by a lesser known lab, you may be buying a diamond of lower quality than stated in the report.
2. Many large chains have huge contracts with lesser known labs that use “softer” diamond grading guidelines. Some of the softer ones list a “suggested replacement value” on the lab report — higher than what the store intends to sell the diamond for.
So a salesperson at a chain might say to you, “Look at the deal you’re getting here. We’re selling you this diamond engagement ring for $2,500, but the report shows a suggested replacement value of $4,000.” ” Wow – what a bargain – nope! That’s why you’re best off just trusting independent Tier 1 labs.
Also keep in mind that a reputable diamond grading report is not an estimate and does not provide estimate data. Diamond estimates are often grossly inflated, and this is not something you want to rely on.
3. The diamond report is littered with disclaimers specifying that nothing is “certified” or guaranteed, and that the lab is not responsible for errors. In fact, GIA provides a disclaimer on its website regarding the use of the word “certified.” The site says:
“It is not true that students, graduates, their businesses, or specific gemstones are ‘certified’ by GIA. The Gemological Institute of America does not certify anyone or anything. Neither do students and graduates who earn certificates or diplomas, GIA Gemstones that are graded or certified are also not certified by GIA.”
So if inaccuracies in the report are later discovered, you could be left as a consumer. Courts have often ruled that sellers, not labs, are responsible for such errors. Why? Because the laboratory stated in advance that they did not bear any responsibility for their report.
Fortunately, there are a few ways to give yourself more buyer protection:
A: You can fly to India where jewelers offer their customers a lifetime buy back policy. Too expensive to fly?
B. You can find one of the 20% of US jewelers selling fully bonded diamonds. These diamonds are sold under a lifetime breakout, lifetime trade-in and lifetime buy-back policy.
C. Not as good as buying a fully bonded diamond, but you can buy a diamond with an actual “certificate” instead of a report. “Certified diamonds do have a guarantee,” albeit for a shorter period of time.
Some sellers refer to a Diamond Report as a “Certified Diamond,” but this is technically incorrect. From a legal point of view, a diamond report is just an expert opinion, but in reality, every aspect of a diamond grading report is more than just an opinion.
For example, a diamond’s carat (weight) and its cut grade can be accurately determined by measuring the diamond’s optical efficiency or by referring to a computer model. A certificate, on the other hand, is a statement of fact – a document for which the issuer is legally liable and will compensate consumers for errors.
Some top diamond grading labs offer both reports and certificates. AGS provides a diamond quality document (not a certification report) and a diamond quality certificate. Diamond Quality Certificates are prepared exclusively for AGS retail jewelers and are guaranteed by participating American Gem Society member stores.
GCAL also certifies its diamond grading. Its 100% money back guarantee policy is valid for two years from the date on the applicable certificate. This policy ensures accuracy in cut, color and clarity grades, as well as carat weight.
There should be a number on the report or certificate, which may or may not be engraved on the diamond. You will be able to enter this number on the accredited laboratory’s website to check the validity of the report.
Elements of a Diamond Grading Report
Diamond grading reports are always evolving, but certain elements should remain the same. E.g:
That report #. This number is given and recorded in laboratory records and may or may not be inscribed on the diamond’s girdle. You can enter the report number on the grading lab’s website to check the authenticity of the diamond quality report or to get more information about the diamond.
Shape and Facet Style: This is the profile and cut style used for the facet arrangement. There are 3 basic facet styles – “Brilliant, Step and Mixed” and 12 basic shapes, including famous diamonds such as round brilliant and princess cuts.
Size: This refers to the size of the diamond (not its weight). Dimensions include dimensions such as length, width, weight, and diameter. Measurements are usually accurate to the hundredth of a millimeter. Size plays a huge role in how a diamond will shine.
Carat Weight: Diamonds are weighed to the hundredth of a carat, and some to the thousandth of a carat (1.123 carats). Carat is the most objective and easy to understand of the 4Cs because all you have to do is weigh the stone.
Color Grade: This tells you how much color is missing in the diamond. The fewer colors, the higher the level.
Diamonds are usually graded from DZ; the closer to a “D,” the whiter the diamond. You should never see diamond color ranges such as (GH, IJK, etc.) on your diamond report. You should only see color ranges in estimates for mounted stones.
Clarity Grade: Almost every diamond has internal defects called inclusions and external defects called blemishes. Diamonds are graded based on the size, type, location and number of these imperfections.
Clarity grades range from Flawless (FL) – Inclusive. The lab employs several experts to grade the clarity of the diamonds in order to get a more accurate reading.
Cut Grades: The most recent diamond report includes cut grades for standard round brilliant diamonds. Cut takes into account a diamond’s brightness, fire and scintillation. Cut grades range from Excellent to Poor.
Other elements you may see on a diamond report include polish, symmetry, fluorescence and proportion. Armed with this information, you will be able to better assess the quality of the diamond in your engagement ring.
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