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Edwin Novel

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The key question is how did you assess value. An EGL (or GGS or Joe's Lab) "G/VS2" is not a GIA or AGS G/VS2.

The price of a diamond is (mostly) based on the objective characteristics of the stone, not on the piece of paper; it just so happens that a GIA or AGS report is more reliable in describing those characteristics than EGL/GGS/Whatchamacallit Labs.

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Anyone who wants to can call themselves a gem lab or an appraiser, and they can grade things however they want.  The secret is that you don’t have to care.  The onus on the lab is to convince you that their opinions have merit, and the default answer is NO.  Search for the lab. Search for the principals.  Look at reviews. Look at who they partner with. If you find the lab to be lacking, don't just hold it against the lab, hold it against the people asking you to rely on them. 

The difference is important. Play with the database here a bit, even if you have no interest in buying from the advertisers.  It’s free and anonymous.  Search for a set of parameters surrounding the grade you’re hunting for.  I don’t remember your previous post but lest say 2.00 – 2.10/VS1/F/round/GIA.  I get 172 stones advertised ranging in price from $19,995 to  $36,240 with the median at about $26k.  That’s roughly a factor of 2 and the differences are going to be in the things I didn’t list. Cutting, fluorescence, etc.  Now change the color from F to G and the clarity from VS1 to VS2. That’s visibly identical but the list now has 202 stones ranging from $17,055 to $32,261 with the median of about $22,000.  That’s a $4000 drop for ONE grade each of clarity/color!  Often the question between labs is more like 4 or 5 grades. 

So who called the stones F or I and what do they mean by that?  It turns out that it isn’t nearly as standardized as people tend to imagine.  One lab will call it F and another will call it something else.  Some will be at E, or even D.  Some may be at I or even J. Yeah, it matters.  So who hired the lab?  Hint: Not you.  That’s why you should care.  The labs are not some independent arbiter of the truth and they may be exactly the opposite. That's why 'bad' labs have customers. 

Edited by denverappraiser
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No, GGS is not an "industry standard". GIA is as close to an industry standard as it gets, but there is no recognised "legal" or professional body accredited standard in gem grading: to practice as an engineer, you legally need qualifications; to set up a gemmological lab you don't.

Also, while oil standards (I assume API is the American Petroleum Institute, not an Application Program Interface) are technically measurable with accepted methods and using well defined units of measure (we all agree what a centipoise is or how to measure a high temperature deposit), diamond colour, clarity and cut are largely subjective evaluations; carat weight is the only one of the 4 C where you have something comparable to a "proper" engineering specification. AGS tried to introduce a colorimeter-based approach to colour grading, but the industry never bought into it.

More specifically, there are three issues with non-GIA (AGS, HRD) reports:

1. They use different standards for grades and the process of grading even though they may call the grades with the same names. For example, an EGL or IGI "G" is NOT a GIA "G" colour even in principle; they use different grade boundaries. GGS might use GIA-graded master stones, standards and processes but they are not obliged to (and frankly are very unlikely to: these things cost, and GIA can claim a premium price on their reports while spreading the cost over a large volume of reports; a second or third tier lab cannot do either thing).

2. The reliability of the grading is also significantly different - partly because their process standards are less stringent. Most labs are far worse than GIA or AGS in this respect, and it's not unknown for stones to be graded 5-6 grades "off" on colour or clarity (or both). "Typically" the grading may be 1-2 degrees off (and note, practically always for the worse), but as a buyer of one stone you don't care about the average; you care about your stone.

3. The reason why "other labs/standards" exist is largely that they are useful marketing tools for diamond sellers. It is relatively common for a stone to be graded by multiple labs and for the seller to choose the most marketable set of grades as their "certificate" (none of those reports are "certificates", BTW, but that's another topic).

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Thank you both for your replies, that is very educational and quite frankly not as surprising as one would hope.  It seems like it is up to the consumer to demand standardization and some kind of accreditation.  We all know that is never going to happen.  Everyone, just like me is looking for value, and a good deal, so we sometimes believe what we want to believe and accept our own ignorance of a particular subject as justification.  Thank you for taking the time to help educate me.


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Yes, it's up to the consumer, but it's not impossible or even that difficult.  Not to sound self-serving, but I devote a great deal of effort and expense to my credentials and accreditations for exactly this reason. I definitely get clients from it.  GIA and AGS, two labs that I am connected with, spend fortunes on their equipment and trying to be standardized in their grading.  I wish more people took the time to care, which I why I take the time to write these things.  

There are tens of thousands of jewelers that I've never heard of.  That's not a vote for or against any of them.  They've probably never heard of me either.  

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26 minutes ago, khartleroad said:

I am still surprised that no one seems to have any personal experience with this seller.


Well, I suspect the majority of visitors here are in your situation: first time diamond purchasers who therefore have limited experience of different jewellers. Add the huge number of "online jewellers" - tens of millions of hits on Google - and the relative obscurity/small size of the company you are interested in, which means the frequent posters don't know about it, and it's not that surprising:


vs. one of the leading online diamond dealers


Edited by davidelevi
Added OP quote for context
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