Diamond certification: Is a GIA certificate worth it?

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A diamond certification, also called a diamond grading report or a diamond lab report, is a document that details the technical aspects of a diamond. This information helps an appraiser determine a diamond’s value in the current market — and is also useful for insurance purposes and when you go to sell your diamond. A diamond lab report gives you, the owner of the diamond, peace of mind that you got what you paid for. Some online diamond buyers only work with sellers who have lab reports.

A grading report takes money and time and will require you to mail your diamond to a diamond certification lab. However, if you are looking to sell your diamond jewelry for its full market value, having a diamond certificate is worth the expense and hassle.

Here’s what you should know about diamond certification: 

Can I get a diamond certified?

If you have a diamond you’re looking to sell or insure, you can get it certified in a laboratory, the Gemological Institute of America, or GIA, being the most reputable. 

The cost of GIA diamond certification depends on the size of the stone, though expect to pay between $50 and $100, plus the cost of shipping your diamond. This is the current pricing, starting at $48 for a 0.15-0.22 carat diamond: 

Pricing table for GIA diamond certification.

For an additional fee, the GIA will laser-inscribe your stone with its unique GIA report number.

There are three ways to submit a diamond for GIA certification: 

  • Submit your diamond through a local jeweler. You can find a list of qualified jewelers through the GIA site. 
  • Mail your gemstone directly to a GIA laboratory using its online intake form. 
  • If you live near New York City or Carlsbad, Calif., (or one of GIA’s 14 international locations) you can drop off your diamond for grading.

Worthy, an online jewelry marketplace, provides a free GIA report and simplifies the process of selling your diamond jewelry. Worthy accepts jewelry with a center stone that is worth at least $1,000 (typically .5 carats or larger). 

If you are looking to sell, we like Worthy because: 

  • Auction platform with thousands of qualified professional buyers pushes prices to market highs
  • A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and hundreds of positive customer testimonials
  • Free FedEx shipping
  • Free insurance by Lloyds of London up to $100,000
  • You have the final say on what price you’ll accept for your diamond jewelry
  • 24-hour payouts

If you decide you actually don’t want to list your item or you want to halt the auction, you can do so — and keep your GIA report. 

Read our full Worthy review to learn more about the auction process and get a free estimate from Worthy.com now >>

What certification is best for a diamond?

Many different gemological labs offer a diamond certification service wherein they will evaluate your stone. The GIA, International Gemological Institute (IGI), American Gem Society (AGS), Gemological Science International (GSI), and European Gemological Laboratory (EGL) are all popular and well-known laboratories.

Here is an example of a GIA diamond certificate, or lab report:

GIA diamond certificate

A diamond certification takes into account the 4 C’s, which are color, cut, clarity, and carat:

4 Cs of diamonds

The 4 Cs are the four main characteristics reported in a diamond certification that help to determine the worth of a stone. They represent the stone’s:

  • Color
  • Clarity
  • Cut
  • Carat

Color

Diamonds come in a wide variety of colors, some rarer than others. The rarer the color, the more desirable (and more valuable) the stone is likely to be. Generally speaking, completely colorless diamonds are the rarest and most valuable. Other rare colors for diamonds include red, pink, and blue diamonds (also known as “fancy diamonds”) which need to be graded on their own scale. 

Clarity

Clarity refers to exactly that: how clear the diamond is. 

Most diamonds will have at least a few flaws that affect their clarity. When these flaws are inside of the stone, they’re known as inclusions. When they’re on the outside of the stone, they’re called blemishes. Both inclusions and blemishes are common, which means that diamonds with fewer (or no) inclusions or blemishes will be worth more. 

The scale below shows how diamond clarity is graded by both the American Gem Society and the Gemological Institute of America. 

Gemological Institute of America's clarity grading scale.

Carat

Carat refers to the diamond’s physical weight. One carat roughly equals 1/5 of a gram. Carats are further subdivided into 100 points. While grading a diamond’s clarity, color, and cut can be somewhat subjective, grading the stone’s carat is a very straightforward process. 

Cut

When a diamond is mined, it is in an unrefined, raw state. It must be cut to bring out the true beauty of the stone. Cut refers to the specific shape of the diamond’s cut, as well as the skill and precision that went into it.

It’s important to note that some diamond shapes are more popular (and therefore more valuable) than others. The chart below from BlueNile shows the most common cuts you’re likely to encounter, including: round brilliant-cut diamonds, princess (square), emerald (step-cut rectangle), marquise diamonds, and other shapes. The prices next to each image show what a 1-carat stone in each cut is likely to sell for.

Diamond price by shape from BlueNile.

Two other cuts are baguette diamonds and trillion diamonds. These stones are typically not worth much more than a few hundred dollars and are often used as accent stones next to other, larger stones. 

Learn about our recommendations for best places to sell your jewelry online, safely, for the highest price in 2022.

Is a GIA certificate worth it?

Of these options, the GIA is often considered to be the best laboratory for diamond certification. The GIA has some of the strictest grading criteria compared to other labs, and the organization is an education and research institute without a financial incentive to grade diamonds a particular way. 

Though a GIA diamond certificate will cost you money and require you to mail your diamond to a lab, having a GIA report will ensure your diamond is appraised at the right price and that you get the most money possible when and if you choose to sell. 

If you are looking to sell, we recommend Worthy because of their simple process that includes a free GIA report. 

If your diamond is worth less than $1,000, or about .5 carats, then the only online jewelry buyer we recommend is Diamonds USA, which accepts 100% of all diamonds, silver, gold, gemstones, coins and fine watches, pays within 24 hours and was found by our own research to pay the most of gold buyers. Learn more in our review, or get your free FedEx or USPS mailer now >>

Diamond appraisal vs. diamond certification

Though some people may use these terms interchangeably, appraisal and diamond certification mean very different things. If you are interested in selling your diamond, it’s important to understand the difference.

GIA diamond certificate

The GIA is perhaps best known as being the inventor of the “4Cs” method of evaluating and certifying diamonds based on their color, cut, clarity, and carat weight, which is now the industry standard. In addition to these characteristics, the GIA also considers the diamond’s symmetry, depth, fluorescence, and polish in assigning a grade. A GIA report will include a number of illustrations and diagrams that indicate the stone’s clarity, proportions, and any flaws.

It is important to note that the GIA only evaluates loose stones. As such, if your diamond is mounted in a piece of jewelry, such as an engagement ring, it will need to be dismounted for evaluation. A jeweler can help you do this if necessary.

The GIA website specifically recommends that individuals interested in their certification submit their stone through a trusted jeweler who is familiar with the process to prevent any issues. 

Online jewelry marketplace Worthy provides a free GIA report with every sale. Get a free estimate now >>

EGL diamond certificate

The EGL will evaluate both loose and mounted diamonds, which can make them ideal if you have a mounted stone and are reluctant to remove it from its setting. It is important to note, however, that because the stone is mounted, it will be impossible to fully evaluate the surface of the stone, or the exact carat weight, which may result in a less compelling report.

To submit your stone for certification, you will need to open an EGL customer account. Then, you will need to complete a submission form and pack that form with your stone. The EGL provides you with a shipping label, which you will need to affix to your package. Then, you will need to ship your package via a trusted shipping service such as FedEx or UPS. It is recommended that you insure your package in case it is lost or stolen during transit. 

The cost of an EGL certification depends on the size of the stone, ranging from $60 for a stone up to 0.69 carats to $65 per carat for a stone that is at least 1 carat in size. Reports for colored diamonds or black diamonds may incur different fees.

IGI diamond certificate

The IGI certifies diamonds based upon the same general characteristics as other laboratories, including the stone’s color, cut, clarity, and carat weight. In addition to this, the lab will evaluate whether a stone is natural or lab-made. These details are all communicated in a detailed report that also outlines any other relevant information about the stone.

The IGI is popular amongst many large jewelry companies, including Zales, Kays, and Jared. As such, the lab processes many stones in rapid succession. Because of the speed at which the IGI processes their reports, as well as their somewhat relaxed grading standards compared to other labs, many reviewers approach an IGI report with skepticism. 

As with other labs, the cost of an IGI certification will depend on the diamond’s carat weight. Prices range from $35 for a stone up to 0.22 carats in size, to $125 for a stone 0.96-1.45 carats in size, to $575 for a stone that is 7.95-9.94 carats in size.

AGS diamond certificate

The AGS is often considered to be one of the best gemological laboratories for diamond certification, held in similar esteem as the GIA. Both labs are nonprofit trade associations.

Just as other labs, the AGS grades diamonds based on their carat size, color, cut, and clarity. Cut, color, and clarity are each graded on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being the highest possible grade and 10 being the lowest possible grade. The report also details the stone’s shape and style, as well as its measurements, and makes use of diagrams to visually depict information about impurities, etc. The AGS will grade both mounted and loose stones. 

Unfortunately, the AGS will only complete certification for those in the industry; i.e., American Gem Society retail jewelers. This means that in order to receive an AGS diamond certification, you will need to work with a qualifying jeweler. Such jewelers will know the submission process and be able to guide you through it.

I Do Now I Don’t review: Is this online jewelry seller legit?

Where to get a diamond certificate

Such reports are created by independent, accredited gemological laboratories like the GIA. Diamond lab reports identify the diamond’s weight in carats and dimensions and grade the stone based on its color, clarity, and cut (the 4 Cs). Diamond certificates also detail any artificial treatments or finishes that the stone has undergone and will identify whether the stone is natural or laboratory-made.

In order to get your diamond certified, you will need to select a gemological lab to conduct an analysis of your stone and grant it a certification. Because each laboratory’s process and grading requirements vary, sometimes extensively, it’s important to do your research so that you can choose the laboratory you are most comfortable working with. 

An appraiser will use the information obtained in a diamond certification to determine its value in the current market. Learn all about the diamond appraisal process here.

If you want to receive a free GIA report and sell your diamond jewelry for the most money possible, get a free estimate now from Worthy.com >>

Can I get a diamond certified?

If you have a diamond you’re looking to sell or insure, you can get it certified in a laboratory, the Gemological Institute of America, or GIA, being the most reputable.

What certification is best for a diamond?

Many different gemological labs offer a diamond certification service wherein they will evaluate your stone. The GIA, International Gemological Institute (IGI), American Gem Society (AGS), Gemological Science International (GSI), and European Gemological Laboratory (EGL) are all popular and well-known laboratories.

Is a GIA certificate worth it?

GIA has some of the strictest grading criteria compared to other labs, and the organization is an education and research institute without a financial incentive to grade diamonds a particular way.

Wealthysinglemommy.com founder Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, activist, author and expert. A former Associated Press reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has appeared on CNBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, TIME, The Doctors, Elle, O, The Oprah Magazine. Winner of Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web” and a New York Observer “Most Eligible New Yorker," her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was a New York Post Must Read. As an expert on divorce and gender, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality and multiple state legislature hearings. More about Emma's credentials.

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