A from NBC’s Dateline tells the story of how lab grading reports, from major labs such as IGI have blatantly soft gradings that essentially rip-off consumers.
Along with bogus grading, these particular certificates had appraised values. Whether or not fault lies with the grading lab giving the value or the store using these values as a marketing tool is another issue for another day. However, the issue here is that not all diamond grading labs are the same.
The fact is, diamond grading labs can be opened by anyone. I dare say Sarin machines, microscopes and CZ master sets are cheap enough nowadays that a new lab could be opened for under $10,000. And therein lies the problem – a commercial diamond grading lab needs to turn a profit. Without the reputation that the GIA, HRD and AGS have, these commercial diamond grading labs have no other option than to grading softly and/or put dollar values on their certificates. This essentially turns these so called “independent” certificates into marketing tools used by jewellers to trick consumers.
So how can you protect yourself from bogus gradings? Buy only GIA, AGS and HRD certified stones. As diamond grading is subjective, you should also get the certificate verified by a local and independent gemmologist (one that doesn’t sell diamonds). This will ensure that you are getting what you pay for and also support local gemmologists.
That said, a certificate isn’t a diamond. Therefore, a diamond with a lesser certificate such as IGI or EGL may well be grading correctly and hence a bargain, but it is always best to check with an independent gemmologist first.