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Fri, 02/08/2013 - 09:33
In recent years, EGL-USA certifications have grown in popularity, especially for loose diamonds under 1 carat. The EGL certification is popular with retailers because it is less expensive than a GIA certificate and has a looser grading standard.
EGL-USA is often confused with other EGL labs internationally (such as EGL-Israel). While sharing a name, the organizations are independent. EGL International certifications are considered by many to be even less reliable than EGL-USA, but are often accepted for the same reason as EGL-USA; looser grading standards mean higher grades on diamonds, which leads to the perception of increased value.
The relationship between EGL-USA and GIA certifications is often misunderstood, usually because there is a vested interest in both sides of the discussion. In practice, EGL-USA tends to grade color from one to four grades higher than GIA, and clarity one to two grades higher. The spread is inconsistent, so an EGL-USA diamond certification cannot be "translated" to GIA simply by looking at the certificate. This is important, as purchasers often believe they can simply subtract one grade from the EGL certificate to arrive at the likely GIA grade.
Lumera offers an eye opening comparison of GIA vs EGL-USA certifications, which illustrates the danger in comparing GIA and EGL directly when purchasing a loose diamond. The same diamond, certified by each lab, is graded very differently. A customer who purchases the diamond using the EGL certificate will believe they are getting a great deal, when in fact they are simply getting an inflated grade.
It is also important to understand that the grading of diamonds has very little governmental oversight. Both GIA (who created the D-Z color grading terminology, as well as the IF-I2 clarity grading terminology) and EGL (who now uses the same terminology, but applies their own definition and standard to each) are free to set their own grading standards. This means that there is no legal issue in a diamond being graded F VS2 by one laboratory and H SI1 by another. While misleading for a customer, the difference in grading is perfectly acceptable from a legal standpoint.
Lumera recommends and sells only GIA certified diamonds, as they have proven to be the most consistent over time, the most reliable, and the most fair. (learn more about GIA certification of diamonds)