By Dirk Rendel
Like school, diamonds are given “grades” for how good or poor they are. The people making the grades are experts and very, very in depth in their evaluations. You could write an entire separate book about the exact nature of the diamond grading criteria but it would be very boring, very dry, and very depressing. So instead of having you die of boredom, I’ll simply outline the most important and necessary stuff.
There are quite a few companies that grade diamonds and all are very, very prestigious. There’s the GIA, or Gemological Institute of America, the IGI, or International Gemological Institute, the EGL, known as the European Gemological Laboratory (why they don’t call themselves an institute is beyond me), and the AGS, or American Gem Society. These are basically the heavy hitters of the industry and their opinion weighs incredibly heavy on the value of every diamond that passes their way. And between all of these prestigious institutes (and LABS!), virtually every diamond worth its weight in salt does indeed pass their way.
The cut grades of these various groups are based on some pretty high tech stuff. We’re talking computer programs and people that measure exact brilliance and fire, dispersion, leakage, scintillation, and virtually everything in between. The rating, however, is the most important piece of information for you to chew over, though.
Your diamond will most likely come with a lab certificate that will let you know the grade of the diamond and this is a great thing to have to ensure that your diamond is legit. But remember that the certificate will also let you know if any artificial treatment has been done to the stone to improve it. Consider the certificate a report card of sorts and then go from there. And, as luck would have it, the vast majority of online diamond sellers carry either GIA, EGL, or both ratings, meaning that you’ll have the peace of mind that your stone is guaranteed to be what it claims and that you’ll be able to return it if there are any issues with its quality.
Now would be a good time to point out a fairly pervasive misunderstanding in diamond buying: The difference in “cut” and “shape.” While the cut of a diamond refers in part to the level of craftsmanship and quality of the person who cut the diamond, it is impossible to talk about the diamond’s cut without mentioning the “shape.” These two terms are sometimes thought to be interchangeable but what it really is is that the cut encompasses the shape. The shape does not make up the entire aspect of the Four C’s, but you will hear the shape being referred to as a cut. If it sounds complicated, it really isn’t.