Whether you’re shopping for a diamond ring or other jewelry, the grading report of a diamond is essential to you.
The grading report is usually in the form of a certificate, which showcases the highlights of the chosen diamond’s quality. There are different grading reports, produced by different labs.
In this article, we’re going to review the two most important gem labs in the world, GIA and AGSL, and their comparison.
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What is a Grading Report (Certificate)
As mentioned above, grading reports, also known as “diamond certificates” are essential assets in diamond purchasing, or selling. They contain specific details about the diamond in a ring, which helps consumers learn about them.
It’s a sort of a confirmation that the diamond you’re getting is worth the price you’re paying. Also, it reveals the details of its quality. Grading reports make up for the decisions on a price. Consumers should know how to read these reports to some extent because they can justify why they don’t agree or think the price of a diamond is suitable.
Sometimes jewelry selling stores like to pump up the descriptions about their products. That said, consumers should read grading reports to recognize whether the diamond really lives up to what the seller described. Moreover, they can avoid overpaying for a piece of jewelry that isn’t as hard and sturdy.
Also, the most reliable diamonds have reports issued by an independent gemological laboratory. Two of the most important labs of that kind are GIA and AGS. Additionally, there are some other gemological labs that we’ll highlight at the end of this article.
Bear in mind that diamond certificates aren’t only good for determining the price of the diamond. These certificates also serve a great value for those who want to sell old jewelry. They help in situations when you’re buying an insurance policy which can protect you from scam.
Diamonds are extremely valuable, so much that consumers often don’t pay attention to what they’re buying. That leads to overlooking some key details located in the grading reports, leading to confusion and even loss of investment. More often than not, consumers just take a look at the report, without too much of analysis about what’s inside of it.
In the text below, we’ll define both AGS and GIA labs, as well as continue with the AGS vs GIA comparison. We’re going to detail what distinguishes one from another, as well as encourage you to choose between them. Keep in mind that the final choice is yours, but hopefully, this article helps you make the right decision.
AGS vs GIA
We’re first going to cover AGS, as it’s smaller, and perhaps easier to comprehend. AGS, also known as the American Gemological Society is a USA-based gemological laboratory. You can find its main headquarters in Las Vegas, Nevada.
What makes AGS laboratory among the best ones in the world is its sophisticated scientific approach towards diamond cut grading. However, that different approach can at times be confusing and hard to read.
Firstly, instead of an alphabetical rating system utilized in most other gemological labs, AGS uses a 0-to-10 scale. The numbers are helpful in determining the characteristics of a diamond. However, it works in the opposite way. The zero is considered to be the best grade while the ten counts as the worst.
AGS has a high ethical standard just like the other high-grade labs. Their grading system is consistent and reliable. That said, you don’t have to worry about being scammed. It’s one of the most commonly used standards in the USA. Aside from the USA, the headquarter offices are also scattered across Israel, Belgium, India, China and Hong Kong.
Because of the slightly different grading system, first-timers using AGS methodology may be a bit confused. However, once you grasp the basic concepts, it’ll be extremely easy to read, and straightforward. At that point, you’ll hardly make a difference between other standards like GIA.
It’s worth noting that, being so trustworthy, AGS also has stricter grading standards compared to other facilities like GIA. AGS’ cut grading systems use a reliable optical ray-tracing assessment. It can measure the light performance of a diamond and its quality with the breeze.
Additionally, diamonds that have the superior cut to others, and that geology and mineralogy experts consider ideal transfer to AGS for testing, as opposed to GIA. The grading system of AGS is more advanced and sophisticated compared to others and is less error-proof to inclusions. That’s what truly sets it apart from GIA. We’ll highlight the differences with more details below. What you need to know now is that AGS is less forgiving compared to other services, GIA included.
However, despite professionalism and sophisticated analysis AGS provides, GIA (Gemological Institute of America) leads the market. It is the leading laboratory in the entire world, spread across many countries. Many jewelers and those who purchase jewelry believe exactly this laboratory. Its main headquarters take location in Carlsbad California.
Being widespread across the world, in the biggest cities, there are more than 1400 scientists, educators, and certified diamond graders. Aside from providing leading certifying service for diamonds, GIA excels at providing education and research.
It teaches scientists and researchers around the world how to recognize good diamond, conduct measurements and more. Thanks to its robust approach, this organization is successful at adopting new technologies. Its agility helps it stay at the very top.
Although not stricter than AGS reports, GIA also provides structured and sophisticated grading standards for diamonds. Its consistency just continues to grow, as it showcases the most detailed reports of diamond quality. The ultimate goal of the organization is to deliver services that give consumers peace of mind when purchasing a diamond ring. Consumers can easily access information and get insight into the diamond’s information.
AGS vs GIA – How are color and clarity graded?
AGL and GIA use a similar methodology when it comes to color and clarity grading. Both labs boast master color sets which accurately determine the color. GIA grades the master sets which the AGS uses, making for the common strict standards set by GIA.
However, it’s worth mentioning that the clarity in diamond grades often comes with a pinch of subjectivity. That’s because there’s a lack of automatization, whereas humans still grade the diamond. Although both labs use similar standards, there is a certain dose of leniency in grades of one lab compared to the other.
As opposed to AGS, GIA uses letters from D to Z to grade the colors in diamonds. For GIA, D refers to colorless while diamonds with Z letter stand for yellowish or brownish diamonds.
This leads to labs often delivering different grading results, even when the same diamond is submitted for grading. Those deviations are mostly of subject nature. That said, when it comes to studying clarity in diamond, there’s no common rule to determine which organization is stricter than the other, or when, for that matter.
In terms of clarity, GIA uses a scale that starts to FL which means flawless. Flawless diamonds have no inclusions or visible cuts under 10x magnifications. Other grades include I1, I2, and I3 which show obvious inclusions to the naked eyes. AGS uses numbers where 0 is considered flawless and 9 with inclusions.
AGS vs GIA – Cut grading
As opposed to GIA, AGS developed its own scientifically-supported methodology which analyses cut quality with success. The same method proves quite valuable with light performance too. Researchers apply the AGS system on different diamond shapes despite their facet arrangements.
While diamond cutting quality often goes for a round diamond, AGS reports about other shapes too. The organization also grades shapes like princess, oval, Asscher, and other diamond shapes. Many shapes will also be part of the list in the future.
Learn more about gemstone cutting
On the other hand, GIA provides a general cut assessment focusing mostly on round brilliant diamonds. There are also no announcements to change this in the future, so AGS is a better option if you want to test different shapes.
Other Types and Conclusion
We hope that our AGS vs GIA comparison turned out to be helpful in regards to choosing the best diamond certificate. However, it’s worth mentioning that there are some more certifications, which, however, aren’t the best choices. Here’s which there are.
EGL, which stands for European Gemological Laboratory. The headquarters were based in Europe, with more offices available across the globe. You can find their offices in London, Paris, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, Johannesburg and more. The organization delivers various grading methodologies for stones that weigh less than a carat. It’s the most popular organization in Europe.
Finally, IGI stands for the International Gemological Institute. Aside, from Antwerp Belgium, it can be found in other locations too. They grade polished diamonds and are the second most popular lab in the globe. This organization is also known for grading synthetical diamonds.
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However, there are reasons why IGI and EGL should be avoided. The most recommended option is GIA because of its versatility, but some jewelers want to earn more money so they will encourage consumers to spend more on getting IGI or EGL diamond certificate.
There’s no reason to spend more money and time than needed, which is exactly why we created GIA vs AGS comparison. What are your thoughts on the diamond grading methodologies of these two organizations? Let us know in the comments!