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Lab Certificaiton


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Good day everyone.


I have a question -

I have seen MANY posts here while reading through topics indicating that GIA is the 'best' lab and the 'only' one to be trusted..however, I'd like to point out that recently GIA has been found to have inflated reports thereby making diamonds seem to be better color/clarity than they really were.


Keeping this fact in mind, how can GIA be the best and the most reputable?


I've also read a few posts indicating that EGL is one of the least trustworthy labs available - and yet, EGL is the oldest gem grading lab (according to a web site discussing the various labs) and is 'the most reputable'


so, now I'm totally confused! I was thinking of sending a diamond I recently purchased 2nd hand, to EGL for grading, but I'm concerned that I may not get a good report from them.


Can someone help clarify this, please? I don't want to get a report from a lab that isn't reputable - likewise, since I want to upgrade, I don't want to purchase a stone from ANY store or seller that offers lab reports that aren't really up to par.





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It's easy.. GIA is still the most consistant grader when compared to many labs..


As for the 'scandal'.. IT appears to have been an isolated incident involving just a couple of the graders and some very specific very high diamonds.. The fact that several people have since been replaced, and new processes installed to help keep this from happening again, many people still feel quite comfortable using them..


When you have a large company like GIA, Ford, etc., one or two unscrupulous people does not make the entire organization bad..


But there are people on here that know far about this than I do..

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GIA Gem Trade Laboratory has been offering services as a 3rd party grading service for decades and they are the benchmark used by the industry. When jewelers, appraisers and even other labs are grading a stone, the question being asked usually is ‘How would you expect GIA-GTL grade this stone?’ In the case of disputes, GIA is almost always the arbiter. This doesn’t mean that they never make mistakes or that they never have problems. The current scandal is based on some bribes made to GIA employees to issue inaccurate reports on some extremely valuable stones (It was an 11 carat D-IF that caused the scandal). The procedures have been modified, the subject employees have been fired and the customers involved are being investigated by the FBI. It’s unlikely that that particular form of fraud will happen again, at least at GIA. Will they ever have a problem again? Probably. We all do. All in all, an 80 year history with 1 serious problem is a pretty darn good track record. No one else comes close.


I don’t agree with the statement that you should flatly avoid stones graded by other labs but it’s a more complicated question than it at first appears. GIA graded stones trade at a premium over most other labs because of GIA’s excellent reputation and this leaves the opportunity for a bargain in correctly graded stones from other labs. Perhaps the real question is why to use anyone else. There are several reasons and some are better than others.


1) Most other labs are cheaper than GIA-GTL. Sometimes by a factor of 4.


2) Most other labs are faster than GIA-GTL. GIA can take 8 weeks to examine a stone. Some others will do it overnight. Most are less than a week.


3) GIA has an annoying attitude. Most others, notably EGL-USA, are very customer friendly companies.


4) Other labs have different formats that many dealers find easier to display.


5) Other labs present different data on the report. Dealers may want to accentuate or conceal certain information in their sales presentation and they can help this process by carefully choosing the lab. ‘Ideal cut’ or ‘Hearts and Arrows’, for example, are terms that don’t appear on GIA reports that a dealer may want to use in their promotion.


6) GIA will only grade untreated and unmounted natural diamonds. Other labs have different rules about this.


7) Many other labs, including EGL, use different grading scales and apply them differently. A stone sent to several different labs is likely to come back with different grading results. A stone sent repeatedly to the SAME lab can come back with different grading results. Not surprisingly, dealers have a certain fondness for more liberal descriptions.


In the end, it’s not the grading report that makes a diamond beautiful. It’s a combination of the work by God and the work by the cutter. The lab is just reporting what they see.


Just out of curiosity, assuming that your a consumer and that your diamond isn't for sale, why do you want a lab report on your stone?


Neil Beaty


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Actually, I do want to get an appraisal of the stone I have (because I am considering selling it) and I am also in the market to purchase a new diamond, and want to be well informed before doing so. My husband has given me a budget, and I want to get the best diamond I can with the money I have - so the grading report is important on that end, too.


I agree that having one 'scandal' in all those years is impressive - I'm sure that most large companies can't claim that track record -of course, the media makes more of things than they really are, and since I'm not in the industry, getting the inside track of what REALLY happened is hard to do.


I thank you for your information - it was VERY helpful!.

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A lab report is not the same as an appraisal. Lab reports are sometimes useful for consumers as a selling tool but usually the cost of the lab fees and the shipping is more than the extra amount you can charge for the stone when you sell it. That is to say that you will have to sell for a discount for the lack of documentation but unless your stone is very expensive, this discount will be less than the cost of the exam. This issue will depend on who you plan on selling to and how you plan on conducting the sale. Can you tell us more about your plan?


As far as the one you're buying goes, I would absolutely direct you towards one with a GIA report although I count AGSL as a pretty good alternative.



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Hi Neil


Thanks for your reply - I really appreciate it.


I've actually spoken with one store who said they would be willing to take the ring I have now in trade towards another one - even though I didn't buy it there, which I thought was nice, actually.

In the interest of protecting myself, I thought it best to know what I have and what it's worth (approximately, of course) before walking in there and just taking their word for it - actually, it was my VERY practical husband who suggested it.


The other option I have is to just list it in places like here, for instance, or on ebay, and sell there - either way, I need to know what I have and what it's worth.


I've checked with some local jewelers and they charge upwards of $50.00 per hour for an appraisal - and they take the ring and keep it during the process rather than doing it while I'm there, which makes me a little nervous!


What do you think?

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Personally, I think appraisal services are a wonderful deal if you have a capable appraiser but I may not be the most unbiased observer since I make my living doing exactly that. By the way, I charge quite a bit more than $50/hr. :blink: Most of my appraisals are done while the client waits and while they watch but some stores will need to take in the job and send it out to an outside appraiser, which is why there is a delay.


A lab grading report will give no opinion on value.


Knowing what you have will be a key to deciding what you want to sell it for and possibly in deciding where and how you want to sell it. By all means, a trade in deal with the selling jeweler is worth considering. They will probably want to do their own grading anyway but you may or may not want to take their word for it. This would be the case whether or not you have a lab report by the way. If you're selling on ebay (or here), a lab exam is pretty much essential. In most other circumstances, like the trade in scenario or if you sell to a dealer, it isn't going to be worth the cost.



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just for the record, if you don't mind my asking - what do you charge for an appraisal - and if you don't want to answer here, please feel free to email me directly at f0rbidden@optonline.net.


i thought $50 per hour was really high, personally...but then again, everything in this part of the country is more expensive than i think it should be! LOL!!! can you tell we've not lived here long?

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I'm in Connecticut


and I don't think your prices are unreasonable. What I have trouble with are people quoting me prices, per hour, but not being able to tell me approximately how long I should anticipate it taking - and then arguing with me about how I should expect to leave my ring for several days to have the process completed.


grr. this is frustrating. I have determined the diamond is real - 1/2 of the battle, I think..now I just want to get an approximate idea on cut/clarity/carat weight and value - so I can figure out if it's worth trading, selling, or turning into an earring :blink:

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Just a note to add my respect for Neil- you will not go wrong following his well thought out advice.


I did want to expand on reasons sellers might use the NON GIA labs.


If a seller is up front, and explains that a non GIA lab was used to get a better grade, then it's no problem

The real problem is sellers trying to convince buyers there's no difference- which indicates either a lack of knowledge, or a lack of integrity- neither a quality I'd look for in a diamond dealer.........

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