Diamond sales are strictly regulated both by individual countries and by the international diamond trading conglomerates that oversee the whole industry, from diamond production in mines all over the world, to their grading, cleaning and cutting, to wholesale, and ultimately to their appearance in high-street jewelers in your local town.
GIA and AGS
In the USA, there are two main agents for the control and certification of natural diamonds, and they are the two companies mentioned above: GIA (Gemological Institute of America) and AGS (American Gem Society). Any reputable diamond dealer will only trade in stones that have been verified and certified by one of the two establishments. There are other businesses that offer diamonds with certificates, but few are as stringent or as trusted as GIA and AGS, because their ratings are very variable, some of them will certify enhanced stones (diamonds that have been artificially treated to improve their sparkle) and others will certify lab-grown diamonds. While enhanced and lab grown stones are not fake diamonds, many jewelers will not deal in them, and the international body frowns upon such products as being detrimental to the integrity of the natural diamond industry.
Which Diamonds are Certified?
All commercial grade diamonds over a certain size can be certified, and even smaller stones can be issued a grading report which will give a good idea as to their quality, even if it does not go into the immense detail offered by a full certificate such as is issued with larger diamonds. Tiny diamond chips, industrial quality stones, and diamond dust will not be certified, although they should still come with reliable provenance as to their point of origin, to discourage the sale of so-called ‘blood diamonds’ the proceeds of which are allegedly used in the commission of terror attacks and other criminal activity.
Are Diamond Certificates Free?
GIA and AGS both charge for the service of rating diamonds and both offer a variety of reports, from the most basic (and cheapest) to a thorough and detailed certification which can include having the diamond’s certificate number laser etched onto the girdle of the stone as an extra layer of protection should the paper certificate go astray. Both institutes have an online database of certificates which can easily be accessed to confirm that the diamond you are looking at is the one described in the certificate. When it comes to a purchase of many thousands of dollars, it seems foolish to quibble over paying a hundred dollars or so to confirm that you are getting what you are paying for.
To return to the question: are certified AGS or GIA diamonds more expensive – it is not really a question that should be asked at all! While you may find cheap good quality diamonds that do not have a certificate, there are a number of ethical considerations to take into account, not to mention being able to trust someone who deals in uncertified diamonds. Do these diamonds have blood on them, metaphorically speaking? Did their sale contribute to terrorism or the iron grip of a developing country’s despot growing stronger? Was anyone harmed mining this stone? You may pay more for your certified diamonds, but you can rest assured that your conscience can rest easy.