What are Certified and Uncertified Diamonds?
To certify implies to guarantee the products/items concerned 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, diamond certification is quite different from a diamond appraisal.
For a diamond to be considered certified, it must have undergone rigorous grading processes in an independent laboratory: this is another point worth stressing since only third-party gemological labs 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 they deal in certified gems. As a responsible jewelry consumer, you must ensure that you only shop for certified diamonds; for this 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 4Cs, 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 their credentials. Mostly, you will simply believe what the vendor tells you—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. Moreover, a smaller fraction of the certified ones 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 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 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 an in-depth analysis of the diamond, a grading report may also come in handy whenever you need to sell, insure, or appraise the gem; it is important to note here that a diamond certificate is not the same as an appraisal. 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 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 why 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. This factor increases in importance 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. It ought to be remembered that there are features you cannot possibly verify with the naked eye, and therefore, your options would only be limited to taking the vendor at their word.
However, you can counter check the credentials on the grading report and match them with the dealer’s claims in the case of certified diamonds. Buying diamonds that carry certification issued by reputable labs 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 do not come cheap; losing them could deal you a terrible blow, both financially and 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 that it can capture those details in its database; this process guarantees a less tedious compensation process. 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
You may at times 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 a diamond is 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 the least, buying a certified diamond enables you to learn more about stones and diamonds in general. The information that comes with diamond certification is as timeless as the gem itself.
In the report, you will learn about the main criteria used in the grading and certification processes and will 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 have 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 does not meet the threshold stipulated by many reliable grading labs.
The category that your uncertified diamond falls in does not matter. What does, however, matter is whether it should be certified or not.
First, it is important to note that uncertified diamonds are not inherently inferior to their certified counterparts. But this does not 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. Also, because “cosmetic” diamonds tend to look as realistic as the natural ones do, you may find yourself splashing on a diamond whose quality is disproportionately low.
However, there is 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 do not offer grading certificates to diamonds below certain weight thresholds. 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 would do better with an uncertified gem. Also, note that diamond quality is quite subjective, implying that what is captured in a grading report is not always an accurate description of the stone’s real worth.