Should I Buy a GIA or EGL USA Graded Diamond? Here's how to not get ripped off.
One of the things we’re often asked is what is the difference between the different gem labs? This is a short question with a long answer. There are hundreds of labs around the world that certify diamonds. They say “Hi, we are gemological experts, we believe the diamond to be such and such clarity, such and such color, etc. The diamond should be graded as follows." And they will issue a certificate based on their opinion.
This can be useful to someone buying a diamond because a gem lab is a disinterested third party, and they don’t care if you buy a particular diamond from a particular store or not , so they are saying "we have no interest in sale we do not know about you, we think the diamond is worth this."
They don’t give an opinion on value, they will give you an opinion on the stone’s characteristics. That’s what a diamond certificate is and why people might find it useful. Of the hundreds of gem labs around the world, only a few of them are credible and have good reputations. In the USA it’s GIA, EGL USA, IGI and AGS.
We want to talk specifically about EGL USA and GIA, those are the most popular and commonly seen certificates on the West Coast where we are. When we talk about EGL, we don’t mean EGL Canada, or EGL Brazil, or any of the other countless iterations of EGL — we mean EGL USA only. This is the only EGL lab that has maintained a credible reputation, the others have not.
Now, GIA is generally considered the gold standard of diamond grading. They are thought to be the most strict and prestigious of diamond grading and for good reason — over the years they have upheld a great reputation and great grading standards. People trust them and so do we.
However, we have found that EGL USA has become more and more strict and stringent on their grading.
So if you ask yourself should I buy a GIA certified diamond or an EGL USA certified diamond? The answers is if you buy the diamond correctly, it doesn’t matter.
What do we mean by that?
What we mean is that the market prices that certificate value into the stone.
Let us explain it with an analogy.
Imagine if you have two identical twin children who are equally gifted and talented in all ways.
One of those kids you send to Harvard, the other one you send to a state school. When they graduate and get into the workforce, one of them has a Harvard background and made a B average. The other has a degree from a state school with a transcript with an A average. This is similar to a diamond graded by GIA as a lower color and clarity and then grading it by EGL USA as a higher color and clarity.
Let’s pretend they apply for the same job. The hiring manager will look and say, "Oh you got Bs at Harvard so I will give you a $50,000 salary and you got A’s at state school so I will give you a $50,000 salary."
In other words, these two kids who are identically talented will end up commanding the same salary in the market place regardless of where they went to school.
Similarly, if you take two identical diamonds and send one to GIA and the other one to EGL USA, the one sent to EGL USA might get slightly higher grading but the two diamonds will be priced the same because the market knows how to correct for that.
As long you’re buying the diamond correctly, and that means working with a jeweler you trust to be honest with you about fair pricing and are comfortable with, it doesn’t matter where the certificate came from. At the end of the day the purpose of a third party gem lab and a certificate is there to give you confidence in what you’re buying and If you’re working with a jeweler you know and trust, you should have that confidence already.
It really comes back to the same thing we’ve been telling our clients since we started the company: if you don’t know jewelry, you must know your jeweler.
If you're looking for an engagement ring and want to work with an expert, contact us today for a free consultation.
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