Bottom Line Recommendation
While the GIA is the gold standard for natural diamonds, IGI is leading the lab-grown diamonds market. Both are trustworthy; however usually GIA lab-grown diamonds come with a premium price (around a $1,000 difference). That said, doesn’t matter if you go with GIA or IGI; I recommend buying your certified lab-grown diamonds only from a reliable retailer such as this one.
While other retailers will try to hide information about the source of their lab-grown diamonds, retailers like Brilliant Earth and James Allen will give you all the information needed to make the right choice.
Test yourself: Is this diamond natural or lab-grown?
Table of Contents
GIA lab-grown diamonds are taking a big part in the evolution of the diamond industry, legitimizing lab-grown diamonds as real diamonds. However, it wasn’t always like that. Even though the GIA is responsible for grading all diamonds and gemstones, it took them a long way to accept lab-grown diamonds as authentic.
This article will discuss the GIA’s approach to lab-grown diamonds and how they grade them.
The history of GIA and lab-grown diamonds
Since the establishment of GIA, only graded mined diamonds and gemstones. That means the GIA did not offer quality diamond grading services for lab-created diamonds. However, in 2007, GIA established a policy of how they will grade a lab-created diamond but still approached them as synthetic and not real.
The procedures were different when compared to the steps followed for natural diamonds. The rules have changed with various parties getting involved and making a suggestion.
In 2020 they announced a new policy on how to grade lab-created diamonds. It happened after the FTC decided that lab-grown diamonds are considered real diamonds. Since then, the GIA has started to grade lab diamonds the same way they grade natural diamonds. That said, one thing must be mentioned: the origin of the diamond (laboratory-grown instead of mined).
The GIA changed its approach to lab-grown diamonds
Recently, the CEO of GIA made it public that GIA has revised the grading policy for lab-grown diamonds. The first change was the grading process. According to the top management of GIA, these changes are due to consumer demand. They are there to satisfy their interests in educating them and ensure they safeguard their trust in every gem they invest in and the industry at large.
GIA has always remained firm that it is an educational and research entity and does not put interest in specific industries. This has been supported by their announcement of the change in grading lab diamond policy, diamond quality control, and diamond grading report, as they are open to educating the consumers.
It’s important to understand that the diamond industry is full of politics:
- One group wants to sell this alternative product and take a legitimate part in the diamond market.
- The other group stands against it because they don’t want to lose market share.
GIA has been under pressure from the jewelry industry to provide certifying services for lab-grown diamonds. The patience they have shown while they waited on the industry to develop is commendable.
All lab-grown diamonds will be inscribed with the GIA grading report number as they do to mined diamonds. Additionally, they will indicate “lab-grown.” as of now, they will not show anything to do with the growth properties or source of the diamond. There will be a difference in how the lab-grown diamond report will appear compared to that of a natural diamond. This is an excellent idea as it will improve the transparency in this new industry, which has been in question.
Why do we care about GIA lab diamonds?
The step taken by GIA to change the diamond grading report policy of lab-created diamonds is a positive move for consumers and sellers. This is a way that they can have an option to make their purchase property informed through the certification by GIA.
The fear and the burden that the consumer faced while searching for a diamond is now over. GIA will provide this service just as they do for mined diamonds, and all the customers need is to compare the certificate and make their choices.
All parties benefit from these changes as customers are now reassured of their product grade and diamond origin. This way, GIA will exercise its education mandate. The industry can pursue its business by providing buyers with the transparency and information they need to make informed decisions. Ultimately, lab diamonds and mined ones coexist in the market without conflict.
How does GIA evaluate laboratory-grown diamonds?
The first step when a lab-created diamond is taken to GIA is to test whether the stone is mined or lab-grown. This is for clarification purposes. The gemological analyst examines diamonds using the 4c’s guidelines used worldwide. Each diamond is analyzed carefully, and attention is just like when grading mined diamonds. GIA then compiles a report of the diamond cut, clarity and color characteristics.
Furthermore, the high tech used by the gemologist in GIA can tell if the diamond was made using the HPHT or CVD method. They also determine if there is any post-grown treatment on the diamond. All the information is indicated on the diamond report to ensure the customers are aware of the diamonds’ characteristics before buying. Additionally, the GIA gives a laser inscription on the diamond girdle with the report number for identification.
The GIA's Grading Policy
Since the introduction of lab-grown diamonds, GIA started grading them in 2007. To begin with, GIA only offered a lab-grown diamond report, not the full one. This differs from mined diamonds, as they offer a full diamond report. Furthermore, the GIA grading policy indicates the origin of the stone. The definition of the lab-grown diamond will show the color and clarity elements of the stone.
After the change in grading policy, GIA will ensure all lab-grown diamonds graded at their labs are certified by them in terms of color, clarity, and cut. This will enable the customers of lab-grown diamonds to get all the information about the stone while making a purchase.
Which certificate should you get?
Lab-created diamonds from different sources are taken to various labs for grading. The grading from these labs may vary, affecting the diamond’s price. This is because some labs will grade the diamonds higher than others (in other words – scamming the customer).
GIA and IGI are the most credible sources regarding diamond grading. However, it is essential to note that diamond grading is subjective. Different labs may inspect the same diamond but grade it differently. As such, you must buy your lab-grown diamond from a reputable dealer who can provide you with a certificate from a credible source such as GIA.
Though the certification affects the price, there are other things one needs to consider before buying the lab-created diamond. Ensure that you choose a reputable and certified lab such as GIA or IGI. This is because they are well known for their accurate grading. Also, check the dealer’s credibility and make sure they are well-established in the market.
GIA Certification: The Gold Standard, But Not for Lab-Created Diamonds
The Gemological Institute of America is the most trusted name regarding diamond certification. It offers all the information about natural and lab-grown diamonds to the buyers to be aware of the stone before purchasing it.
GIA offers a full, extensive report about all mined diamonds graded in their lab. As a customer, you will access the information about the natural diamond you wish to buy. Such information includes fluorescence, depth, symmetry, carat weight, table, cut, polish grade, clarity, and color of the stone.
Lab-created diamonds have followed suit as GIA has announced a new policy on how to grade them. This will ensure that the lab-grown diamond enthusiast finds all the necessary information about the gem.
GIA alternative: Is IGI better for lab-grown diamonds?
The international gemological institute (IGI) is an internationally recognized gem certification lab. IGI was the first to offer certification for lab-grown diamonds, and they have been setting the standard.
The IGI is an excellent alternative to the GIA for lab-grown diamonds. This is because they have more experience with them while offering an affordable price. Remember that the seller pays each certificate and rolls the cost to the customer.
Since GIA is the gold standard of the whole industry, they also charge a premium price. We are talking about a significant price difference, around $1,000. For that reason, if you are on a limited budget, I’d strongly recommend going with IGI lab-created diamonds.
A “GIA diamond” sometimes sounds better. It’s like saying you got your diamond from a reliable source, and you know it’s a real diamond and not fake. One may want to pick a GIA lab-grown diamond instead of IGI because of its branding; after all, it’s the industry’s gold standard. If you want to pay a little extra, why not? Go for it.
How can you tell if a lab-grown diamond is GIA?
If there are precious stones that require rigorous and advanced testing, lab diamonds are at the very top of that list. Consumers must be confident they are getting what they paid for: a lab-grown diamond, not a diamond simulant that has been misrepresented as lab-grown. A diamond grading report is a MUST-HAVE.
At GIA labs, graders and experts use high-end equipment to observe and identify the strain pattern, inclusions, trace element composition, luminescence, fluorescence, and other physical, optical, and chemical properties that can help distinguish a lab-grown diamond from a natural one.
GIA is approved to identify lab-grown diamonds, so they don’t fall prey to fakes and counterfeits. Moreover, GIA does laser inscription on a unique label that says the stone was made in a laboratory. This allows the customers to recognize that it was created by man and not by the natural process of gemstone formation.
In the diamond grading report, GIA indicates that the diamond is lab-grown and with the details of the stone, such as color, clarity, and cut. To know if a diamond is lab-grown, you can check the information provided and compare it with the GIA lab-grown report.
To get what they pay for, consumers should only purchase lab-grown diamonds from a trusted retailer and insist on a GIA grading report.
To sum up, GIA is the most credible name regarding diamond certification. Their certificates are the most trustworthy among consumers. Ideally, GIA offers all the needed information on lab-created diamonds. The amendment of their grading policy has changed the industry as customers can purchase quality lab diamonds without fear. In case one is unsure, they can always confirm from the GIA site about any certified lab-grown diamonds.
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