Bottom Line Recommendations
- The IGI is one of the most popular diamond labs in Europe and Asia. However, it is still not as popular worldwide as the GIA. It is much better to buy a diamond with a more recognized certificate. Take a look at this round brilliant here.
- Note that both the IGI and the GIA use very different methodologies especially in grading the clarity and the color of the diamonds.
- The IGI diamonds come with a full-size report and a smaller report. Always ensure that you ask for a full-size report as this contains the most information on the diamond. The smaller report doesn’t have cut information.
- Another advantage of buying a GIA graded diamond is that some of the best online sellers stock GIA diamonds. They also offer the best in 360-degree videos which you can use to judge the appearance and quality of a diamond. It is advisable to never buy a diamond based only on the report.
- The Gemological Institute of America is the largest and most popular diamond grading lab in the world and is considered the standard-bearer in the diamond industry. It has proved itself over the years for using a clear and consistent methodology for grading diamonds.
- If you are buying your diamonds online, do so from James Allen, Blue Nile or Whiteflash. They have the best quality images and videos to help you make the best evaluation. Take a look at this princess cut diamond from James Allen here.
The importance of the diamond certification
Many diamond shoppers will have already done their homework and will know to evaluate their stone based on the 4Cs. These are the cut, color, carat weight, and clarity. However, there is another important element that needs to be considered and that is the diamond certification.
You can tell a lot about a diamond through its certification. You can tell whether it is earth mined or created from a lab. You can also know if the stone is artificially treated.
Having a reference for detailed information about a diamond allows the buyer to understand exactly what they are buying. While on paper this information seems simple, different diamond laboratories have different methods of giving information on a diamond.
Every diamond will go through strict scrutiny and analysis in a laboratory that has all the special equipment and undergoes several tests. Measurements will be taken and they will also be compared to master stones held at the labs for color grading. This is how the quality grades of the diamonds are arrived at.
For a diamond certification to be trustworthy it should come from a third party. This third party needs to be a company that is independent and is not involved in any way in the purchase and sale of diamonds. Its main function is to analyze the diamond and provide an accurate picture as to the diamond’s properties.
After the analysis, the findings from the gemologist will be listed on the certificate.
The Gemological Institute of America GIA
The International Gemological Institute is an independent diamond lab. The company headquarters are in Carlsbad, California but have offices the world’s major cities. These cities include New Delhi, New York, Tel Aviv, Dubai Hong Kong, Surat, and Tel Aviv among others.
This is by far the most popular of all diamond labs and was formed back in 1931 to bring consistency into diamond grading. Its aim is centered on the research and the grading of gemstones.
The GIA wanted to come up with standards by which all diamonds would be evaluated. It came up with the 4Cs of diamond grading. These are the color, the carat weight, cut and clarity. This is a standard system used by everyone in the diamond industry including other grading labs like the IGGI.
The GIA also offers training to gemologists.
The International Gemological Institute
The headquarters of the international Gemological institute IGI is based in Antwerp, Belgium. They also have offices in major cities. The IGI is most popular in Asian countries and Europe.
The reports by the IGI are not as reliable as those from the AGS and the GIA. This is especially so with diamond sellers in the US.
Mostly the IGI serves larger volume jewelry chains and mass-market diamonds. Due to this fact, their prices are much lower than both the GIA and the AGS.
The main difference between IGI and GIA
The GIA has been in existence for the past 75 years and is known for coming up with the 4Cs of diamond evaluation.
The International Gemological Institute (IGI) is also a well-known diamond lab in the industry. They, however, use a completely different method for grading diamonds. The IGI is not as consistent as the GIA and uses a less strict methodology for grading the diamonds.
We recommend going for GIA graded diamonds. Their method of grading is the most widely accepted. This will make it easier for you to exchange your diamond and its value will not drop as much even after a long period of ownership.
IGI is the most common grading lab in Asia and Europe. The GIA however still has a major footing in these markets as well. GIA is the most popular lab in the USA.
Note however that if you know what you are looking for, you can still buy IGI graded diamonds.
The structure of the IGI around the world is also not as consistent which means that lab reports from different IGI labs in different regions may not be consistent as well.
Whenever you are buying IGI graded diamonds, make sure that the dealer can provide information on the SI1 and the SI2, IGI diamonds. This is because diamonds much lower on the clarity scale are more likely to have visible inclusions.
However, we recommend that you go for the GIA graded diamonds as you are more likely to get a good deal. You are far better off using a diamond lab with a wider reach than one that is not recognized in some regions. If for example, you want to sell your diamond to someone in another part of the world, this is made easier using the GIA certificate.
Reports provided by the IGI
For the diamonds that are much lower on the carat scale, the GIA will give a diamond dossier. All diamonds will be given a diamond certificate by the GIA.
IGI, on the other hand, provides a small grading report and a full grading report. Note however that the GIA small dossiers reports provide more information on the diamond than the IGI small diamond report.
If you plan on buying a diamond that has an IGI report, always make sure that it comes with the full report.
The IGI started as the main and most popular diamond lab for the largest jewelry chains in North America. One of their main benefits is that they are faster than most other diamond labs and give results quickly.
However, many sellers will not recommend buying an IGI graded diamond. Compared to the GIA, the IGI is known to inflate the grades on the colors well as on the clarity.
Because of this, many experts do not view the IGI as performing to the high-quality standards of other reputable diamond labs such as the AGS and the GIA.
This is important to the diamond shopper. When you are buying your diamond, you want to be sure that the quality the seller is claiming is the right quality. It provides you with peace of mind. You are also able to compare diamonds from other different sellers ensuring you get the best quality.
The IGI doesn’t provide sellers with that level of options. What’s more, not all IGI labs are the same. Some IGI labs in certain parts of the world are stricter than others.
IGI vs GIA color grading
The IGI and the GIA do not use similar color grading techniques. For example, a J color diamond from IGI will look darker and have a bit more tint than a J color diamond graded by the GIA. This shows that the GIA employs much stricter standards than the IGI.
The downside of this is that the consumer can get a bit confused when buying diamonds graded by the IGI. For one, a J color diamond by the IGI might sell for 1500 dollars while a similar size J color diamond by the GIA might sell for 3000 dollars. The consumer or buyer might be tricked to thinking that IGI diamonds are cheaper which not the case is.
What is happening is that the IGI diamond is a darker stone which is getting a much higher grade compared to the GIA. Many shoppers buying their diamonds online may not have access to such information. It is therefore highly important that you do your due diligence.
Considering the number of grading labs available in the diamond industry, the consumer needs to have an in-depth grasp of the right information.
The diamond reports from the various diamond labs will only offer so much information. To get a full view and appreciation of the appearance of the diamond, it is important to observe the diamonds yourself. This is why you should always buy from a seller who can provide you with 360-degree videos of the diamond you want.
Both the IGI and GIA are popular diamond labs. While the GIA is the recommended diamond lab throughout the world, the IGI still has a sizeable market share in Asia and Europe.
Owing to the inconsistencies between different IGI labs around the world and the fact that their color and clarity grades seem to be inflated when compared to the GIA diamonds, many sellers will not stock IGI graded diamonds. They will also not recommend buying IGI diamonds to their diamond buyers.