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Jewellery Advice and Knowledge Jewellery Advice and Knowledge

Jewellery Advice and Knowledge Jewellery Advice and Knowledge

What does a diamond certificate look like and do I need one? What does a diamond certificate look like and do I need one?

If you are thinking about purchasing a diamond, you will no doubt have noticed that some diamonds are advertised as 'certified', and others are not. We hope to explain what a certificate will tell you, what your options are, and help you to decide whether you require a certified diamond or not. We recommend that you read our introductory post on diamond grading and the 4 C's here, which will help to identify some key terms for you. You may also have heard a lot about the GIA - if you'd like to find out who they are and what they do, you can do so here. Otherwise, read on to find out more!

Certification by an Independent Institution 

Whilst the GIA are the most widely used and respected diamond grading body, there are many other institutions that offer this service. When a diamond has been certified by an institution such as the GIA, EGL, IGI etc, generally the diamond will have been removed from the piece of jewellery, and undergone rigorous testing using various laboratory-grade technologies to develop a ‘fingerprint’ specific to that particular stone. Because it’s done by machine, it is incredibly accurate. As a result, some clients like to feel confident that they "know what they are buying" - ie, if we are selling a diamond as a H VS1, and it has a certificate, it has been assessed by a laboratory and therefore definitely is a H VS1. 

However, one key element to understand, is that each different certifying body has its own tolerance of certifying standards. What GIA may certify as an H VS1 may be certified slightly differently by another institution. So, although you may 'know what you're buying', it's not necessarily the case that each laboratory would end up with the same result.

Generally, GIA is seen as upholding the strictest standards, which is why many recommend it as the preeminent certifier. 

What does a certificate look like, and what does it tell me?

Although there are many different independent laboratories responsible for grading diamonds and producing certificates, we will focus on GIA as it is the most common and widely used. 

GIA certificate

Above is a copy of a GIA Diamond Grading Report. You will see that it describes the following:

    • The cutting style/shape
    • The measurements of the stone
    • Carat weight
    • Diamond colour
    • Diamond clarity
    • An assessment of the quality of the polish
    • An assessment of the symmetry of the cut of the stone
    • Whether or not the diamond fluoresces in UV light (faint/very faint is fairly normal buy high fluorescence is generally deemed not ideal).
    • There is a diagram of the diamond being assessed, displaying the location and form of any inclusions.

    To the right is a key of the GIA colour and clarity scales, so that you know exactly where your diamond stands.

    The GIA also produce a smaller, Diamond Dossier, which looks like this:  



    It's a physically smaller document, which contains the mostly the same information as the diamond grading report, apart from the following differences: 

      • There is no diagram of the stone depicting the locations and forms of any inclusions.
      • The far right, is a summary of the diamond which includes total depth, table size, girdle assessment and culet size. These are not shown on the Diamond Grading Report.
      • There is a Laser Inscription Registry number: modern diamonds now have a GIA registration number lasered onto the girdle of the stone, linking it to a certificate. This is to prevent fraudulent behaviour such as providing the wrong certificate to a stone. This isn't exclusively included on the Dossier rather than the Diamond Grading Report, but is dependent on the stone. 

      Both GIA reports come with a "report number" which you can look up on their website to see the details of the certificate.  

      There are a multitude of other laboratories who provide diamond certification, and most collate the same information. 

      Here are a couple of samples as examples:

       



       You can see the similarities and differences between them. Don't be alarmed if you're buying a diamond certified by someone other than the GIA - there are plenty of other respectable examining bodies out there.

      Shop some of our certified diamond rings here:

      Assessed diamonds 

      A diamond that is described as "assessed" has not been graded by a laboratory, but by eye and with the help of a loupe to provide magnification. The diamond remains within the setting of the piece of jewellery, which does mean that the view may be partially obstructed by the setting. 

      • Is it accurate? Honestly, it depends on who is doing the assessing. They should have a diamond grading qualification and/or many years' experience. An assessment is essentially an opinion based on the assessor's experience and knowledge. Sometimes, they may provide a range, such as G-H and VS1-SI2, as it is difficult to be specifc by eye. They are human after all, so are unlikely to be as accurate as a machine.

      • Could they be lying? Technically, yes, but the jewellery industry is one of trust and developing life-long, sometimes generational, relationships. We want to nurture our clients from the purchase of an engagement ring right through to their diamond wedding anniversary, and to be the ones that they recommend to their children when their turn comes around. It is certainly not in our interest to mislead a customer and risk them losing faith in our business. It is worth bearing in mind that an assessment is essentially an opinion, and therefore two people may have a slightly differing opinion of an assessed colour and clarity grade.

      Self Certification

      At Michael Rose, we may offer you a certificate for your diamond that is completed ‘in-house’. It has not been examined in a laboratory by an independent body, but has been assessed by one of our experts. We will measure the stone to provide an estimated carat weight, and provide an estimated colour and clarity grade. By putting our assessment in writing, it demonstrates our confidence in our ability to properly assess the diamond for you, the customer, whilst also leaving the customer with a greater awareness of what they are purchasing. You can always ask us for one of these when purchasing one of our pieces of jewellery, and we would be happy to write one for you.    

      Why aren’t some diamonds certified? 

      Certainly, we sell many diamonds that are certified, and we know that there are many customers who wouldn’t consider purchasing a diamond otherwise. But, we also sell many that are not. Generally, older stones are less likely to have certification. The process of standardising diamond quality was done so with modern diamond standards in mind, and an older stone is more likely to score less well due to its handcrafted nature and the limited diamond availability at the time it was cut.

      The stone may have changed hands many times and just never been certified, as opposed to a modern diamond being certified almost as soon as it has left the mine and prior to entering the hands of any jewellers further down the pipeline. Alternatively, if an old cut diamond is set in an antique piece, it’s likely that removal of the stone from the setting could compromise the piece and therefore it’s deemed best to leave it be. 

      It’s not a case of having something to hide, rather that we feel that presenting only certified diamonds can lead to a more clinical and impersonal experience. Certification is a result of the increased commercialisation and standardisation of diamonds and, whilst we recognise the importance of this, we don’t want to lose the magic of falling in love with a diamond, or reduce a process that is extremely personal and sentimental, to a box ticking exercise.

      Diamond cluster ring

      Each diamond is so wonderfully unique, and demonstrates it's own individual performance of light. You need to love this, in addition to the size and the colour of the diamond - IE, the way it really looks. Don't forget that no one will be looking at your certificate anyway. For example, some stones may have a slightly lower colour grade but ‘face up’ beautifully and thus appear colourless from the top. Some may have small inclusions present, which are invisible to the naked eye and do not interfere with the play of light as it travels through the stone. You may, therefore, overlook the perfect diamond for you by being too focused on the specifications, which then limit you. 

      In a nutshell, when choosing to mark a special life event with an item of diamond jewellery, we implore you to fall in love with the diamond, and not the piece of paper it comes with. If it happens to come with a certificate, then that’s certainly an added bonus! Ultimately, however, the decision lies with you and whatever you are comfortable with. 

      Here are some beautiful, uncertified diamonds: 

      Old cut diamond and sapphire ring

      If you are thinking about purchasing a diamond, you will no doubt have noticed that some diamonds are advertised as 'certified', and others are not. We hope to explain what a certificate will tell you, what your options are, and help you to decide whether you require a certified diamond or not. We recommend that you read our introductory post on diamond grading and the 4 C's here, which will help to identify some key terms for you. You may also have heard a lot about the GIA - if you'd like to find out who they are and what they do, you can do so here. Otherwise, read on to find out more!

      Certification by an Independent Institution 

      Whilst the GIA are the most widely used and respected diamond grading body, there are many other institutions that offer this service. When a diamond has been certified by an institution such as the GIA, EGL, IGI etc, generally the diamond will have been removed from the piece of jewellery, and undergone rigorous testing using various laboratory-grade technologies to develop a ‘fingerprint’ specific to that particular stone. Because it’s done by machine, it is incredibly accurate. As a result, some clients like to feel confident that they "know what they are buying" - ie, if we are selling a diamond as a H VS1, and it has a certificate, it has been assessed by a laboratory and therefore definitely is a H VS1. 

      However, one key element to understand, is that each different certifying body has its own tolerance of certifying standards. What GIA may certify as an H VS1 may be certified slightly differently by another institution. So, although you may 'know what you're buying', it's not necessarily the case that each laboratory would end up with the same result.

      Generally, GIA is seen as upholding the strictest standards, which is why many recommend it as the preeminent certifier. 

      What does a certificate look like, and what does it tell me?

      Although there are many different independent laboratories responsible for grading diamonds and producing certificates, we will focus on GIA as it is the most common and widely used. 

      GIA certificate

      Above is a copy of a GIA Diamond Grading Report. You will see that it describes the following:

        • The cutting style/shape
        • The measurements of the stone
        • Carat weight
        • Diamond colour
        • Diamond clarity
        • An assessment of the quality of the polish
        • An assessment of the symmetry of the cut of the stone
        • Whether or not the diamond fluoresces in UV light (faint/very faint is fairly normal buy high fluorescence is generally deemed not ideal).
        • There is a diagram of the diamond being assessed, displaying the location and form of any inclusions.

        To the right is a key of the GIA colour and clarity scales, so that you know exactly where your diamond stands.

        The GIA also produce a smaller, Diamond Dossier, which looks like this:  



        It's a physically smaller document, which contains the mostly the same information as the diamond grading report, apart from the following differences: 

          • There is no diagram of the stone depicting the locations and forms of any inclusions.
          • The far right, is a summary of the diamond which includes total depth, table size, girdle assessment and culet size. These are not shown on the Diamond Grading Report.
          • There is a Laser Inscription Registry number: modern diamonds now have a GIA registration number lasered onto the girdle of the stone, linking it to a certificate. This is to prevent fraudulent behaviour such as providing the wrong certificate to a stone. This isn't exclusively included on the Dossier rather than the Diamond Grading Report, but is dependent on the stone. 

          Both GIA reports come with a "report number" which you can look up on their website to see the details of the certificate.  

          There are a multitude of other laboratories who provide diamond certification, and most collate the same information. 

          Here are a couple of samples as examples:

           



           You can see the similarities and differences between them. Don't be alarmed if you're buying a diamond certified by someone other than the GIA - there are plenty of other respectable examining bodies out there.

          Shop some of our certified diamond rings here:

          Assessed diamonds 

          A diamond that is described as "assessed" has not been graded by a laboratory, but by eye and with the help of a loupe to provide magnification. The diamond remains within the setting of the piece of jewellery, which does mean that the view may be partially obstructed by the setting. 

          • Is it accurate? Honestly, it depends on who is doing the assessing. They should have a diamond grading qualification and/or many years' experience. An assessment is essentially an opinion based on the assessor's experience and knowledge. Sometimes, they may provide a range, such as G-H and VS1-SI2, as it is difficult to be specifc by eye. They are human after all, so are unlikely to be as accurate as a machine.

          • Could they be lying? Technically, yes, but the jewellery industry is one of trust and developing life-long, sometimes generational, relationships. We want to nurture our clients from the purchase of an engagement ring right through to their diamond wedding anniversary, and to be the ones that they recommend to their children when their turn comes around. It is certainly not in our interest to mislead a customer and risk them losing faith in our business. It is worth bearing in mind that an assessment is essentially an opinion, and therefore two people may have a slightly differing opinion of an assessed colour and clarity grade.

          Self Certification

          At Michael Rose, we may offer you a certificate for your diamond that is completed ‘in-house’. It has not been examined in a laboratory by an independent body, but has been assessed by one of our experts. We will measure the stone to provide an estimated carat weight, and provide an estimated colour and clarity grade. By putting our assessment in writing, it demonstrates our confidence in our ability to properly assess the diamond for you, the customer, whilst also leaving the customer with a greater awareness of what they are purchasing. You can always ask us for one of these when purchasing one of our pieces of jewellery, and we would be happy to write one for you.    

          Why aren’t some diamonds certified? 

          Certainly, we sell many diamonds that are certified, and we know that there are many customers who wouldn’t consider purchasing a diamond otherwise. But, we also sell many that are not. Generally, older stones are less likely to have certification. The process of standardising diamond quality was done so with modern diamond standards in mind, and an older stone is more likely to score less well due to its handcrafted nature and the limited diamond availability at the time it was cut.

          The stone may have changed hands many times and just never been certified, as opposed to a modern diamond being certified almost as soon as it has left the mine and prior to entering the hands of any jewellers further down the pipeline. Alternatively, if an old cut diamond is set in an antique piece, it’s likely that removal of the stone from the setting could compromise the piece and therefore it’s deemed best to leave it be. 

          It’s not a case of having something to hide, rather that we feel that presenting only certified diamonds can lead to a more clinical and impersonal experience. Certification is a result of the increased commercialisation and standardisation of diamonds and, whilst we recognise the importance of this, we don’t want to lose the magic of falling in love with a diamond, or reduce a process that is extremely personal and sentimental, to a box ticking exercise.

          Diamond cluster ring

          Each diamond is so wonderfully unique, and demonstrates it's own individual performance of light. You need to love this, in addition to the size and the colour of the diamond - IE, the way it really looks. Don't forget that no one will be looking at your certificate anyway. For example, some stones may have a slightly lower colour grade but ‘face up’ beautifully and thus appear colourless from the top. Some may have small inclusions present, which are invisible to the naked eye and do not interfere with the play of light as it travels through the stone. You may, therefore, overlook the perfect diamond for you by being too focused on the specifications, which then limit you. 

          In a nutshell, when choosing to mark a special life event with an item of diamond jewellery, we implore you to fall in love with the diamond, and not the piece of paper it comes with. If it happens to come with a certificate, then that’s certainly an added bonus! Ultimately, however, the decision lies with you and whatever you are comfortable with. 

          Here are some beautiful, uncertified diamonds: 

          Old cut diamond and sapphire ring

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