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GIA Graded Lab Diamonds: First Results!

Ada Diamonds CEO

Rough_Rock
Trade
Joined
Jan 8, 2020
Messages
69
Last week I shared the results of AGS’s return to grading lab diamonds, as part of our involvement with the AGS lab diamond pilot program.

We are also one of the first to receive full-fidelity GIA grading reports, with 17 diamonds sent to GIA for secondary grading.

The results? Unsurprising! The majority of diamonds received the same grade from GIA as it did from IGI or GCAL. In cases where the labs differed, the grades were off by one color or clarity grade, and GIA was more liberal on the grade 6 times and harsher only once.

Note to the mods: this is not a sales post. This is to highlight a set of MMDs graded by two different labs, a unique opportunity to directly compare the 'harshness' vs 'looseness' of grading institutions to challenge widely held assumptions.

*Note: GIA does not provide an “ideal” designation for round diamonds

You may have read on this forum, blogs, or random places on the Internet that IGI will be at least two grades more liberal than GIA. You might have heard “if you buy an F VS1 from IGI, then that’s actually an H SI1 from GIA.” But our (admittedly still limited) data proves that ‘conventional wisdom’ wrong. How could that be?
  1. Diamond grading is just not that complicated, especially when grading higher quality diamonds. Side-by-side, a D VS1 is easy to spot over a F SI1, even to an untrained eye. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that GIA gave similar grades as IGI for the D-G color, VS+ goods we submitted.
  2. The COVID-related disruption in diamond mining and polishing of diamonds has cost GIA millions of dollars in grading fees, as there aren’t newly cut natural diamonds to grade. GIA’s change to lab diamond grading policies will bring them millions of dollars in grading fees, if their grades are in line with the grades of AGS, GCAL, and IGI. So GIA has little incentive to rock the boat.
  3. We didn’t send GIA trash diamonds. We only buy the lab diamonds that pass our rigorous QC standards, and we only sent GIA diamonds that we own. This is obviously a hand-curated subset of the overall lab diamond market.
  4. IGI gets a bad reputation because the natural market has only used them to grade the dregs for years. None of the best producers of natural diamonds are sending their D VVS goods to IGI. So garbage in, garbage out when it comes to mined diamonds.
For the last 5+ years, IGI has graded the vast majority of lab diamonds. So whether a lab diamond was one of the most gorgeous ever or total trash, it likely went to IGI for grading. That means IGI has seen it all! As an organization, they are completely capable of accurately grading lab diamonds, as evidenced by AGS and GIA largely concurring with IGI’s grades.

Are there exceptions? Of course. we’ve seen hundreds of lab diamonds that got what I would consider an inaccurate or unfair grade. Will GIA make mistakes too? Yes. Diamond grading is subjective and human error is not 100% preventable.

If you are considering a lab diamond with an IGI or GCAL grade and you want a secondary grade by GIA, it is available to you with a 6-10 business day lead time. As we get closer to the holidays, I would imagine the lead times increasing.

If you’re shopping online, you likely won’t see a lot of GIA graded stones on eCommerce web sites as many of the wholesalers are taking a wait and see approach to assess demand for GIA by consumers. Also, AGS and GIA grading reports are far more expensive than IGI and GCAL reports, so the wholesalers that focus on supplying budget eCommerce sites will likely stay with the cheaper reports.

Thus, the prevalence of GIA and AGS graded lab diamonds may take many months to appear online. But if you demand a GIA cert, it is now available to you!

In full disclosure, I've lobbied aggressively for GIA to change its censorship of lab diamond grades for years, as we believe that more transparency is best for the consumer. We applaud GIA for finally making the decision to release uncensored grading reports of lab diamonds.

If you’ve received any secondary grades of lab diamonds, please DM me the results (or post them here if you prefer). I’d love to see if your results are inline with ours!
 

free-user

Rough_Rock
Joined
Sep 17, 2020
Messages
83
Wonderful work and transparency!

My questions now is if you request lab diamonds to be sent to gia or ags it at your own expense...when it does get back with any variance or no variance, what does a seller go off on then and is that fact transparent to the consumer? It just seems to me that if I wanted gia or ags I would never have gone the route of buying lab diamonds.

Maybe I'm wrong but I think ags and gia understand this.

Gonna play devils advocate here and say there was not a big enough sample...
 

free-user

Rough_Rock
Joined
Sep 17, 2020
Messages
83
I get it that this is a step in the direction to get more intrested buyers for lab diamonds, but I can tell you the only way will happen is if lab diamonds have a full reduction in pricing permanently.
 

Ada Diamonds CEO

Rough_Rock
Trade
Joined
Jan 8, 2020
Messages
69
Wonderful work and transparency!

My questions now is if you request lab diamonds to be sent to gia or ags it at your own expense...when it does get back with any variance or no variance, what does a seller go off on then and is that fact transparent to the consumer? It just seems to me that if I wanted gia or ags I would never have gone the route of buying lab diamonds.

Maybe I'm wrong but I think ags and gia understand this.

Gonna play devils advocate here and say there was not a big enough sample...
#1) Thank you!

#2) We're now regularly sending diamonds to AGS and GIA for secondary grading at our expense and some of our growers are evaluating transitioning over to AGS or GIA for their higher quality goods.

In our case, if a client has a deposit on a diamond and we send it for secondary grading, we honor the price regardless of variance or no variance.

#3) I was working in big data before starting Ada Diamonds, and I'd 100% agree this is *not* a large enough sample set to definitively proclaim anything about GIA and IGI, but it certainly does challenge the conventional wisdom that IGI grades are suspect (at least in man-made diamonds).

It's worth reiterating that grading color and clarity of a diamond is A) a pretty straightforward process and B) increasingly done by automation and AI.

 

OoohShiny

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Apr 25, 2014
Messages
8,192
Interesting post, thank you for starting it!

Perhaps GIA and AGS will end up being for 'premium' MMD and the other labs for 'other' MMD, in the same way as Mined diamonds? lol
 

Ada Diamonds CEO

Rough_Rock
Trade
Joined
Jan 8, 2020
Messages
69
Interesting post, thank you for starting it!

Perhaps GIA and AGS will end up being for 'premium' MMD and the other labs for 'other' MMD, in the same way as Mined diamonds? lol
It's certainly possible that the high quality lab diamonds will largely switch to AGS and GIA by this time next year.

It really depends on consumer demand, as GIA and AGS grading reports are more expensive.
 

Eeveepenny

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jun 11, 2020
Messages
177
The results? Unsurprising! The majority of diamonds received the same grade from GIA as it did from IGI or GCAL. In cases where the labs differed, the grades were off by one color or clarity grade, and GIA was more liberal on the grade 6 times and harsher only once.
That’s great to hear! I thought as much as I have a GIA G and an IGI H and I can’t really see a difference. If anything the H is slightly whiter
 
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