What are Certified and Uncertified Diamonds?
To certify basically implies to guarantee as accurate, genuine and legitimate. Therefore, certified diamonds refer to those diamonds that have been duly graded, formally appraised, and whose attributes are well documented. However, it’s important to note that in this context, the word “appraised” has been used advisedly. As you shall find out later on, diamond certification is quite different from a diamond appraisal.
For a diamond to be deemed certified, it must have undergone rigorous grading processes in an independent laboratory. That’s another point worth stressing since it’s only third-party gemological labs that offer unbiased grading reports. Another crucial characteristic of certified diamonds is that their grading reports must be captured in some documentation. The documents are usually available with diamond retailers, provided the retailer deals in certified gems. As a responsible jewelry consumer, you must ensure you only shop for certified diamonds. That will go a long way in upholding the industry’s high quality standards. When certifying diamonds, the stones are normally graded by independent gemological labs based on their Four Cs, among other more intricate aspects.
The opposite of certified diamonds is non-certified diamonds, also known as uncertified diamonds. Since they have no certificates or real documentation, it’s hard to establish the credentials of non-certified diamonds. In most cases, you’ll simply believe what the vendor tells you. Well, that’s one of the greatest mistakes you can ever make when shopping for any item of jewelry. Recent research statistics suggest that up to 75% of all the diamonds in circulation have no official documentation. And a smaller fraction of the certified ones actually bear documentation from reputable gemological labs.
What Does Diamond Certification Entail?
A diamond certificate is also known as a dossier, diamond grading report, or a diamond analysis document.
Generally, a diamond certificate highlights the gems;
- Four Cs, which include the carat weight, color, cut, and clarity,
- Standard of finish, such as the polish, symmetry, and the girdle thickness,
- Other intricate features, including the shape, size, and fluorescence,
- Cut grade [in case of the Round Brilliant diamonds], and
- Other unique features, such as the ID number and any laser inscriptions made on the stone.
Besides highlighting the fundamental features of the diamond, a diamond grading report also confirms that the stone has been verified as either natural or enhanced. Enhanced diamonds are cheaper and low-quality gems that are treated artificially to improve their appearance. Think of it as the gemstone equivalent of cosmetic surgery.
Buying certified diamonds is the only way to ensure that the gemstone meets certain quality standards, as analyzed from the eyes of a qualified and professional gemologist. Knowing that those attributes have been carefully investigated enables you to shop for the diamond with much more confidence.
Apart from offering in-depth analysis of the diamond, a grading report may also come in handy whenever you need to sell, insure, or appraise the gem. Now, it’s important to note that a diamond certificate isn’t the same as an appraisal. And when shopping for diamonds, be wary of vendors that try to pass off diamond appraisals as grading reports. While a grading certificate mainly captures the features of the diamond, an appraisal emphasizes on the economic value of the stone. Diamond appraisals are normally prepared by the vendors, mostly for insurance purposes. As expected, their accuracy and legitimacy are always subject to debate.
Are Certified Diamonds Worth It?
Certified diamonds are the real deal when looking for high-quality gems with well-documented credentials.
The following are some more reasons you should always insist on purchasing certified gems.
1. For Authenticity Purposes
Shopping for a certified diamond is the surest way to verify the details of the gem before buying it. More so, if the grading reports are issued by a reputable gemological laboratory.
A vendor may readily tell you that a diamond weighs 2 carats or has no inclusions. Remember, these are features you can’t possibly verify with the naked eye. Therefore, your options would only be limited to taking the vendor at their word.
But with certified diamonds, you can counter check the credentials on the grading report and match them with the dealer’s claims. Buying certified diamonds is especially important if you’re shopping at a vibrant diamond district where verifying every detail with the vendor is often a tall order.
2. Easier To Insure
Diamonds don’t come cheap. And losing them could deal you a terrible blow, not only financially but also sentimentally. Therefore, it pays to insure the stone. Your insurance company will indemnify you in the event of loss or damage.
However, many insurance companies generally shy away from insuring uncertified diamonds. An insurance company would need accurate descriptions of the stone so it can capture those details in its database. That guarantees a less tedious compensation process. Apparently, only certified diamonds come with the kind of detailed reports a jewelry insurer would require.
3. Can Be Used To Prepare an Appraisal
Diamond grading reports usually don’t capture the economic value of the stone. However, they offer a standard that appraisers can use to evaluate the worth of the gem.
Since their credentials are unverifiable, it’s almost impossible to assess the value of uncertified diamonds. In fact, many competent jewelry appraisers wouldn’t consent to evaluate a diamond whose origins are unknown.
4. Easier To Counter Check the Details
At times, you may want to invest in a diamond that has been graded by multiple labs. That enables you to have an accurate and in-depth assessment of the gem’s quality. With certified diamonds, you can easily double-check reports across various labs for accuracy purposes.
For instance, if the diamond was graded and certified by the American Gem Society and you’re looking for a second opinion, you may consider checking the diamond’s certification with the International Gemological Institute.
5. For Educational Purposes
Last but not least, buying a certified diamond enables you to learn more about the stone and diamonds in general. The information that comes with diamond certification is as timeless as the gem itself.
In the report, you’ll learn about the main criteria used in the grading and certification processes. You’ll also uncover the finer details of the stone that make it unique.
Are Uncertified Diamonds Ever Ideal?
First off, there are numerous reasons why you would be found wearing an uncertified diamond.
The following are some of these scenarios;
- You purchased the diamond that way, especially from a friend, and are yet to have it certified
- The cost of certification is unreasonably higher than the value of the diamond
- The diamond was re-cut but never re-certified
- You may have misplaced the paperwork
- The diamond could be of very small carat weight, typically under 50 points,
- Your diamond is old or antique
- You could have inherited the diamond from a family member or friend
- The diamond’s quality doesn’t meet the threshold stipulated by many reliable grading labs
It doesn’t matter the category that your uncertified diamond falls. What matters is whether to have it certified or not.
First, it's important to note that uncertified diamonds aren’t inherently inferior to their certified counterparts. But that doesn’t qualify them either. Investing in a diamond whose worth can be verified is way better than buying an uncertified stone purely on a hunch.
In most cases, certified diamonds are natural and not enhanced. For obvious reasons, few diamond vendors will admit to dealing in enhanced diamonds. And because “cosmetic” diamonds tend to look as realistic as the natural ones, you may find yourself splashing on a diamond whose quality is disproportionately low.
However, there’s a saving grace to buying non-certified diamonds. For instance, you can experiment with non-certified diamonds for smaller stones, especially if their prices are reasonably lower. The smaller the gem, the more difficult it is to analyze its characteristics. Therefore, most gemological labs don’t offer grading certificates to diamonds below certain weight thresholds. And as we mentioned above, you must compare the cost of having the diamond certified against the benefits. If the stone is of considerably low quality, it may not make much economic sense to have it certified. The same applies to vintage diamonds.
Certified diamonds are, undeniably, the better option when looking for high-quality gems. However, there are certain circumstances where you’d do better with an uncertified gem. Also, note that diamond quality is quite subjective. And what’s captured in a grading report isn’t always an accurate description of the stone’s real worth.