How is Lab-grown Diamond Certification Done: Facts That You Should Know

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How is lab-grown diamonds certification done?
In the world of gemstones, diamonds reign supreme. Since ancient times, man has been using them as talismans, personal adornment, and, because of their hardness, survival tools. But it was in 1947 when De Beers commercialized it with its “A diamond is forever” ad that it caught on. The ad paved the way for the gemstone to become a “woman’s best friend” —and gave a boost to the sales of diamond engagement rings, like the one in this Natalie Diamonds review.
But there was a catch—it was (and still is) expensive for most buyers. Fortunately, in the 1980s, lab-grown, or synthetic, diamonds hit the market. This put diamonds within easy reach to practically anybody wanting to have a piece of diamond jewelry.

Lab-grown Diamond Certification

Natural and lab-grown diamonds look exactly the same. In fact, technically, lab-grown diamonds are chemically the same as their natural counterparts. Even diamond enthusiasts can’t tell which is which without using a tool. So, how can you tell if a diamond is lab-grown GIA?
It is difficult without using dedicated instruments. Lab-grown and mined diamonds are chemically and optically the same, so distinguishing one from the other is impossible with traditional geological observation and instrumentation techniques. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) uses sophisticated instruments like the GIA iD100® and other equipment. Once done, they are laser-inscripted around the girdle of the stone—for the benefit of dealers, retailers, and consumers.

Diamond Certification

With the ever-increasing demand for gemstone jewelry, some form of regulatory or certification body must emerge if the business was to survive in the near future.  Thus, in 1931, the GIA was created to put a means of control over gemstones like diamonds, colored stones, and pearls (such as the one in this Vintage Pearl review) Since then, the body has become the leading source of knowledge, standards, and education in gems and jewelry.
a piece of mined diamond
Mined diamond
And one of its noteworthy accomplishments is the 4Cs—created by its founder Robert M. Shipley in 1949—the globally accepted standards for diamonds.

What are the 4Cs

Sometime after the 4C’s creation by Shipley, it was expanded by his successor, Richard T. Liddicoat, to emphasize two essential things:
  • Diamond quality could be communicated in a universal language
  • It allows diamond customers to know what they are purchasing.

These are the 4Cs of diamond quality certification:

Cut

Quality of the angles, proportions, facets, and finishing details

Color

How colorless is the diamond? The more colorless it is the higher the price.

Clarity

The cleanness of a diamond – the relative absence of inclusions and blemishes.

Carat

Weight of the diamond

GIA Lab-grown Diamond Certification

The 4Cs provide a more objective way to measure and assess the quality of diamonds. Sadly, they are focused on mined diamonds. So, can lab grown diamonds be certified?

Lab-grown diamond creation process diagram
Process of grown lab-grown diamonds

Yes, they can. But to fully grasp the idea, it is necessary to go back to the immediate past.

Though lab-grown diamonds have been around since the late 1900s, they were considered the “new kid on the block” in the world of jewelry. Naturally, the GIA paid scant attention to them until 2007. Initially, the GIA issued certification reports for identification purposes only, not a full grading report for consumers. This proved to be problematic even for gemologists to tell the difference between mined diamonds and lab-grown. Consequently, some stones were sent back to the GIA to test and confirm their origin.

Another drawback to the original GIA certification is that it differs compared to mined diamonds. It only showed ranges for color and clarity.

Then a new chief executive came in, Susan Jacques. She brought with her a new breath to the certification body. So, starting in July 1, 20o9, the GIA started issuing comprehensive reports on color, clarity and cut. But they can only be accessed online. That ushered in the issuance of lab-grown diamond GIA certificatesThe report also officially used the term “lab-grown,” not synthetic.

That development, however, was “too little and too late.” By then, lab-grown diamond certifications mostly came either from the IGI (International Gem Institute), or the GCAL (Gem Certification and Assurance Lab).

The certificates were pretty much like those issued for natural diamonds with slightly varied ratings to the 4Cs. In addition, they carry essential information on Cut, Clarity, Color, and Carat Weight.

IGI Lab-grown Diamond Certification

Some diamond dealers consider the IGI diamond-lab certification, overall, as the best. The reason for this is that the rating body gives more comprehensive ratings for qualities like Color and Clarity.

experts at an IGI lab
IGI lab in the old days

Bits and pieces of the IGI

IGI was established in 1975 from its laboratory in Antwerp, Belgium—the acknowledged diamond capital of the world. It is the largest organization of its kind, with 20 laboratories around the globe, grading finished jewelry, natural diamonds, lab-grown diamonds, and gemstones. IGI also operates 14 schools of geology, producing new jewelry professionals every year.

Over the years, the IGI has become the industry world leader in these areas:

Confidence

IGI provides industry-wide confidence by screening millions of carats of small diamonds, separating natural from lab-grown on behalf of leading jewelry designers and brands; by evaluating and grading finished jewelry creations and loose diamonds and colored gemstones.

Accreditation

The IGI is the first geological laboratory to be issued an ISO Certificate in accrediting both natural and lab-grown diamonds. This is the ISO 17025 laboratory competence certification, considered to be the single most important standard for calibration and testing laboratories across the world.

Sustainability

The IGI is also the world’s first geological laboratory to commit to carbon neutrality joining pioneers like the Responsible Jewelry Council, International Precious Metals Institute, and Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance, together with the SCS Global Services, This move was intended to mitigate the laboratory’s environmental impact.

Hearts and Arrows Diamond Grading

It also pioneered the grading standards for the Hearts and Arrows diamonds—diamonds cut so precisely that their facet reflections overlap when viewed in a reflective scope.

The precision of the Hearts and Arrows is typically associated with what Excellent-Ideal Cut and the IGI was the first to offer co-branded reports to manufacturers and sellers. This accomplishment made the IGI the preferred authority for Hearts and Arrows diamonds sold in Asia.

Lab-grown Diamond Grading

Then in 2005, IGI pioneered the full grading of lab-grown diamonds, providing the first foothold in authenticity and standardization for this growing industry segment.

Today, the IGI has more experience and expertise than any other organization in lab-grown diamond grading, instilling confidence in manufacturers, retailers, and consumers.

Certification Report

Lab-grown diamonds are certified and graded using the same process for mined diamonds—samples are sent to laboratories that specialize in grading diamonds. Most of these labs use the 4Cs as the basis—cut, clarity, color, and carat.

Lab-grown diamonds
Lab-grown diamonds

Both the GIA and IGI follow the same process but their reports vary somewhat.

Do take note that both GIA and IGI are the most respected diamond grading institutions in the world. But their spheres of influence differ—the GIA is more popular in America, while the IGI holds sway in Europe and in Asia. And it offers faster and cheaper certifications.

GIA Certification

This is the grading report that the GIA issues for a diamond after it has undergone its rigorous grading process.

It is the GIA’s honest description of a diamond’s characteristics, specifying essential information about the diamond based on the 4Cs.

IGI Certification

This is the grading report issued for a diamond by the IGI after assessing a diamond’s characteristics using a strict process to ensure the achievement of the highest standards of accuracy and consistency.

Differences Between the Two

Both are the most trusted diamond graders. GIA and IGI certifications are the most trusted diamond graders. Grading reports issued by either of the two inspire confidence about the quality of a diamond. Both give the best lab-grown diamond certification.

A famous study titled “Grading the Grader,”—conducted by researchers of different grading labs—found that both are stricter and more consistent than other labs.

Being independent institutions, they have no stake in the diamonds they grade. They evaluate each based on merits and their description of the stone’s characteristics is honesty at its best.

However, they differ in some ways. For example:

  • GIA uses the term “lab-grown diamonds,” instead of synthetic. While, man-made, cultured, or engineered is what is IGI-certified lab-grown diamonds called
  • The GIA is more popular in America, while the IGI is more popular in Europe and Asia.
  • Certifications issued by the IGI have a faster turnaround than those of GIA.
  • GIA certification is more expensive than that of the IGI.
  • IGI certifications are generally respected for both mined and lab-grown diamonds.
  • A diamond appraisal is provided by the IGI while the GIA does not.

GIA vs IGI: Which is Better?

How are lab-grown diamonds rated?
Both mined and lab-grown diamonds are rated the same way—based on the 4Cs. But both natural and lab-grown differ somehow. And laboratories, too. No matter how much care they exercise in their grading activities or their level of instrumentation, interpreting information uniformly is impossible.
Hence, at the end of the day, when you have to make a decision, you will choose the diamonds with the best certification. But what is best for you?
This will help you…
Both labs are the world’s leaders in grading diamonds. They are known for their strict grading standards and consistency. But while the GIA is popular in America, the IGI is more popular in Europe or Asia.
The GIA sometimes uses descriptive terms in grading reports for lab-grown diamonds, while the IGI uses internationally-accepted standards and scales. In effect, this makes IGI certifications quicker and cheaper. It gives the best description of a lab-grown diamond’s quality characteristics.

Why for for IGI-certified lab-grown diamonds

On top of that here are five more reasons to lean towards IGI-certified lab-grown diamonds:

Expertly-graded 4Cs

IGI expertly measures, grades, and certifies each diamond based on the standard 4Cs of diamond grading. This makes each diamond certified by the body unique. With this comprehensive information, you are assured of an accurate description of the kind of diamond you are getting; appreciate its unique luster and shine.

Guaranteed authentic lab-diamond 

Lab-grown diamonds will put a sigh of relief among eco-conscious diamond lovers. They don’t harm the environment. But how can you be sure of the authenticity and validity of grading reports?
You can put your fears and concerns aside with IGI-graded lab-created diamonds. Over the years, the grading body has gained an unassailable reputation for the quality and consistency of its reports.

Objective third-party report

IGI doesn’t sell or make diamonds. It only grades them, making them the third party in any diamond transaction. diamonds. This means it can grade diamonds with unquestionable objectivity since they have nothing to gain or lose in such activity. And it has the expertise, the technology, and the reputation to do the job.

Makes comparison easy

Shopping for diamonds is like shopping for any item—you want to see as many options as you can to make sure you get the right one that fits your budget.

With an IGI certificate, you can easily and readily see how each gemstone varies from one another so you can get the perfect item that fits your budget.

Great shopping experience

The above features of an IGI certificate naturally result in your having a great shopping experience. A typical diamond buying process is complicated. An IGI certificate makes it as easy as possible. 

How to Do Your Own Lab-grown diamond report check

The above process seems simple and uncomplicated. But reading or checking a grading report can be a challenge. It features a lot of terms you may not have encountered before. You may need the help of a jeweler or you can do your own lab-grown diamond report check.

You can do that by following these simple steps:

Visit their website

Their website provides vital information such as the diamond number, and other information you can verify against the actual item.

Check the certification number

Using a microscope or other magnifying tool, check the certification number (this is found on the girdle of the diamond) if it matches that on the certificate.

Check the weight of the diamond

You may also need to use the weighing scale of the jeweler you are buying your diamond from. Check if it matches what is indicated on the certificate. While doing that, you may also want to check width, length, and height. See if they all check out against the values on the certificate.

Look for flaws

Again, using a magnifying glass, look for flaws inside or outside of the diamond to see if these are indicated on the certification report.
This step is tricky and judgmental. There may be some scratches too small to be seen or identified when the grading body made the report.

Go for Lab-grown Diamond Certification

Lab-grown diamond certification is a necessary process to make sure that the downstream portion of the overall diamond trade cycle gets what they are paying for. Jewelry is a very competitive and expensive business where both the supplier and the consumer expect nothing less but the highest quality in product and service.
Knowing about diamond certification is one thing, being aware of how much one costs is another. To help you on your diamond hunt, check out our guide, “All You Need to Know About Lab-Grown Diamond Prices and Value.”
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