A note about lab reports that everyone should be aware of.

When you are shopping for a piece of diamond jewelry, the lab grading report is an important document that helps you understand what you are buying. Among other uses, a grading report (certificate) from a reliable gemological lab also acts as a security screen against treated and synthetic diamonds.

Lab reports are what describe a gemstone or diamond. They are also what drives the price. What you may not know is that all diamond grades are subjective opinions. They are graded by human eyes and subject to human error. No lab can accurately identify the origin of colored gemstones or diamonds to a legal standard.

It is entirely possible that a diamond sent to two different labs will come back with a different grade.

Further, not all labs are created equal.

It is useful to understand the differences between the various major gemological institutes. You see, each lab uses its own grading system and categories. As a result, a report from one institute may have shown different results from a report issued by another lab for the same diamond.

The four major gemological labs in the world are GIA, AGS, EGL, and IGI.  Alphabet soup.

GIA or Gemological Institute of America is the leading gemological lab in the world. It is the industry’s most trusted and most widely used service because it has the highest grading standards and consistency.

AGS – American Gemological Society is renowned for its scientific approach and research into diamond cut grading. Instead of using an alphabetical rating system, AGS uses a scale of 0-10 for rating a diamond’s characteristics, with 0 as the best and 10 as the worst. AGS is also known for its ethical standards and consistency in its grading system.

EGL – European Gemological Laboratory is known for pioneering diamond grading techniques for stones weighing less than a carat. It is known for the introduction of the ‘SI3’ clarity rating for diamonds and has a large market share in Europe.

IGI – International Gemological Institute is based in Antwerp, Belgium, and after GIA, is the 2nd most well-known lab in the world.

What does all this mean to you?

First, know your source. Work with a jeweler you trust and examine the stone you plan to buy carefully under the microscope. Does your jeweler agree with the lab report?

Nine times out of ten buying a diamond online is NOT actually a better deal – be sure you are comparing apples to apples.

Do not rely on a lab report alone when choosing a diamond!