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Insider Secrets For Diamond Shoppers

Diamond Certificates are Crucial

Diamond Certificates: What is the big deal about certificates? Is it all hype or is there really something to it?

If you want the best diamond price...always, always insist on a diamond grading certificate from GIA, AGS, or EGL (the world's most respected gemological laboratories). Other certificates do not carry as much weight.

(For more information, you should visit the new, improved GIA Web site.)

Our exclusive articles on How to Read a Certificate, are the only resource for this information that we have found anywhere. They explain every detail on a certificate and how it affects the beauty and price of a diamond -- in simple terms.

Why certificates are crucial:

Get What You Pay For
Diamonds are priced by their actual quality grade, according to the 4 Cs and 13 other factors explained in our How to Read a Certificate articles. Unless you receive a diamond grading report (almost always called a "certificate") from a respected laboratory that has no financial interest in the diamond you are buying, you are certainly not getting the exact quality you wanted to buy.

For instance, a 1.00 carat, F/VS2 diamond with a certificate will always sell for $300 - $800 more than the same grade of diamond without a certificate. This is mostly because any dealer knows that a diamond quoted as F / VS-2 quality will usually be a G / SI-1 (one color grade less and one clarity grade less) if you sent it to one of the best independent labs for more accurate grading.

Small, local labs are often connected in some way with a store, so they tend to grade diamonds more favorably in order to help make the sale. The GIA, AGS and EGL labs are very conservative in their grading because they do not sell diamonds and do not receive any portion of diamond sales. A certificate from one of these labs is the best way to get the diamond you want and avoid paying an F color price for a G color quality.

Security During Repairs
People sometimes ask: "How can I be sure I will get the same diamond back when I have it cleaned or repaired at a jewelry store?" Though it is actually very rare that any jeweler would switch stones intentionally, accidents can sometimes happen in a busy store. The key is to have a certificate that maps your diamond's unique inclusions like a fingerprint that you can check in the store before you accept it back. Many of the labs also permanently laser inscribe the certificate number right on the girdle of the stone, where you can easily see it with a 10x jewelers' loupe. In either case, the rare jeweler that would intentionally switch a stone will just wait for an easier customer to swindle. A lab certificate gives you the best protection against these problems.

Greater Appreciation
A certificate enhances the appreciation of one of the most treasured gifts in the world. It adds dignity and confidence in your partner's eyes when she sees that you cared enough to buy the very best and have the papers to prove it.

Protect Your Investment
Although we rarely recommend diamonds as a true investment like stocks and bonds, a certificate makes it so much easier to sell a diamond when you want to trade up. Without it, many dealers will hesitate to buy an unknown quantity. You will have to get a certificate later if you ever do sell or trade up, so you might as well get a certificate now and enjoy all the other benefits in the meantime.

Sample Certificates
For detailed explanations of the various certificates, go to the Web site for each laboratory to see a sample certificate:

AGS (American Gemological Society) -- Sample Cert
GIA (Gemological Institute of America) -- Sample Cert
EGL (European Gemological Laboratories) -- Sample Cert
IGI (International Gemological Institute) -- Sample Cert

Robert Hensley
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