It is expected that a regular shopper will appreciate the importance of certification when shopping for a diamond. Be that as it may, it is possible that despite having shopped for diamonds before, one cannot wholly understand how important certification is. Chances are that this is happening because of the absence of an essential consideration regarding the matter.
But as will be unearthed, not all certifications are reliable. Some come with gross inconsistencies, while others are outright invalid. It all comes down to the issuer of the certificate. The more reputable the issuing company, the more consistent their grading reports.
One such company is the Hoge Raad voor Diamant. The phrase Hoge Raad voor Diamant (HRD) is Belgian for the High Diamond Council. The HRD shares the same location with a global diamond producer and explorer, De Beers. Presently, the HRD is the preeminent diamond grading laboratory in Europe.
Besides diamond grading, the council also monitors the flow of more than half of the world’s diamonds. It mostly tracks the diamond imports into and exports out of Belgium. The company is keen on developing Antwerp’s potential as a global diamond center, to which end it continually markets the city to international public corporations and diamond organizations.
The HRD also endeavors to increase industry knowledge and awareness through research programs. Such programs not only target diamond grading but also cover the full spectrum of the industry from manufacturing to processing and trading.
Hoge Raad voor Diamant was established in 1976. At the time, it was reputed as one of the world’s most reliable diamond grading laboratories. The primary reason was that their grading reports were always accurate and consistent with those from other famous institutions like the GIA. The company has upheld that reputation to date. Presently headquartered in Antwerp, Belgium, the HRD has invested heavily in the city’s diamond wealth—the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) being one of the HRD’s chief shareholders.
Across various parts of Europe, an HRD-issued certificate is considered equivalent to a GIA certificate due to its accuracy and consistency. One reason why HRD reports are highly reliable is that the company complies with the requirements envisaged by the Independent Diamond Councilin the International Rules for Grading Polished Diamonds. This implies that they follow globally-accepted best practices in their diamond grading processes.
In 1996, the HRD became the first gemological laboratory to receive the NBN EN ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation. Such accreditation was never easy to come by since it was dictated by very stringent laws designed for gem labs by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
How HRD Diamond Grading Works
Like other diamond testing laboratories, the HRD generally grades their diamonds based on the Four Cs. Each of the four elements—color, carat, cut, and clarity—is thoroughly evaluated, following which process the gemologists record their findings on the HRD report.
When grading their diamonds, the council uses a cut scale ranging from Excellent to Poor. To carefully analyze diamonds based on cut, their gemologists thoroughly investigate the various aspects that constitute a diamond cut, namely, polish, proportions, and symmetry. Some diamond dealers often confuse a diamond cut with shape. A diamond cut refers to how the shape and polish influence the stone’s symmetry. These are the three critical elements that HRD gemologists use to determine the overall cut of a diamond.
The proportions are useful in describing the brilliance of the diamond. Polish shows the finish of the stone’s different facets, while its symmetry describes how proportionate it is under certain circumstances and parameters. Each of these three components is ranked on a scale from Fair to Excellent.
After doing away with the cut, HRD experts proceed to the color. Color grading depends on the extent to which the stone is white or colorless. The lab generally grades their diamonds using the standard color scale that ranges from D to Z. A D-graded diamond is the most colorless while a Z-graded diamond has noticeable color hues.
Afterward, the HRD evaluates the diamond’s clarity. The clarity scale indicates whether the stone has any inclusions. It should be noted here that these blemishes affect the overall quality of the diamond. Therefore, the lesser the inclusions, the higher the diamond’s quality.
HRD uses the following scale to grade their diamonds based on clarity.
●VVS1 (Very, Very Slightly-Included 1)
●VVS2 (Very, Very Slightly-Included 2)
●VS1 (Very Slightly-Included 1)
●VS2 (Very Slightly-Included 2)
●SI1 (Slightly-Included 1)
●SI2 (Slightly-Included 2)
●P1 (Piqué (or Included) 1)
●P2 (Piqué (or Included) 2)
●P3 (Piqué (or Included) 3)
Carat weight is the last element of the Four Cs that HRD gemologists investigate and is probably the easiest aspect to hack. Doing so requires measuring the weight of the diamond using their gemological equipment.
But diamond evaluation does not stop with the Four Cs. The HRD goes a notch higher by looking into other finer details; for example, the experts examine aspects like girdle size, table width, fluorescence, finish grade, and culet.
Upon completing the entire grading process, the company writes a report. The report outlines the quality of the gem based on each component analyzed. The HRD reports are some of the most comprehensive in the industry. The company strives to give a brief but precise overview of the findings, and if there are critical areas that the experts do not test, those are also noted on the document. The HRD guarantees the accuracy of their reports by ensuring that each diamond goes through numerous tests.
For quality control, the company only certifies diamonds that meet certain minimum thresholds. As for those that do not meet the cut, it distributes them to collectors, retailers, or other grading labs for further testing. However, the HRD makes sure that the vendors who buy such diamonds from the company maintain accurate descriptions of their flaws when selling them to their clients. That way, a consumer can purchase the gems having all facts at their disposal.
To avoid any conflicts of interest, graders never know the owners of the diamonds that they work on.
Besides issuing diamond certificates, HRD provides the following additional services;
- Preliminary diamond examinations
- Laser inscription services
- Evaluation and grading of treated diamonds
- Grading of lab-grown diamonds
- Evaluation of repolished diamonds
- HRD Antwerp Express
The HRD uses innovative technology to evaluate their gems before issuing accurate grading reports. The company’s equipment department purchases some of the most sophisticated screening apparatus. The department then designs and fine-tunes these gadgets within the laboratory. The end products are powerful machines that deliver error-free measurements.
Secondly, the laboratory works only with professional gemologists. Therefore, one can have peace of mind knowing that their project is in safe hands.
The HRD empowers the public through the various education programs that they offer. For the duration of its existence, the institution has endeavored to offer gemological training to people from all over the world. The courses are both on-campus and online.
Some of the education programs the company offers include;
- Rough diamond courses
- Polished diamond courses
- Pearl Course
- Gemology courses
- Diamond jewelry design courses
- Diamond jewelry sales courses
- Jewelry entrepreneurship
Besides these courses, the HRD also tailor-makes programs for organizations and companies. They can be hired for professional corporate seminars or individual coaching on every matter related to diamonds. The company is indeed a trailblazer in the diamond testing and grading sector and has been making its mark in this industry for over forty years.