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GIA vs IGI
Jul 02, 2021
Diamonds
GIA vs IGI
For the diamond industry, GIA's commitment, although very late, to certifying colourless (white) lab grown diamonds, represents nothing less than a historic moment. What makes this event more impactful is that GIA will be using the same methodology and standards they use for mined diamonds. We will devote time in this article to weigh in on this as industry veterans and experts and what this means to you, the customer, and the global man made diamond market at large. Moreover, we will investigate the interesting circumstances that compelled GIA to change their mind and the journey they took to reach this decision.

LAB GROWN DIAMONDS AND GIA HISTORY


In fact, since lab-grown diamonds appeared on the diamond market, the story of lab-grown diamonds and GIA became inescapably intertwined. GIA (Gemological Institute of America), the most respected diamond certifier globally, was enthusiastic about lab grown diamonds from the very beginning and a direct result was one of the first to certify them. It wasn't that long ago that man made diamonds were considered inferior to mined diamonds, since most, or all, of them had a yellow tint.

It wasn’t to last as, just four years ago, GIA radically changed their stance with the mainstream introduction of the first truly high-quality, gem-like, white, or colourless, lab grown diamonds into the diamond market which transformed the diamond industry forever. If GIA had stayed its course, as an early adopter, it could have capitalised on this new development and reaped massive rewards with minimal effort on its part. In contrast, and contrary to everyone's expectation, they halted certifying lab grown diamonds. This decision was so baffling and seemingly illogical to diamond industry insiders like us that it became a hot topic for several years.


It didn’t take long for speculation and theories to spread. However, one emerged that was deemed the most credible. Since then, multiple pieces of evidence has all but confirmed the theory. GIA was allegedly pressured by De Beers to stop certifying lab-grown diamonds since they were now the same quality or better than mined diamonds.

We would like to recap and provide some background information at this stage for the benefit of our younger audience in order to give them a better understanding of De Beers and diamonds. Such is the legacy and influence of De Beers that they are mostly the reason diamonds are what they are today. They were instrumental in making diamonds the go-to choice for engagements and weddings of nearly every culture. "Diamonds are forever", the unforgettable and instantly recognisable term, was coined by none other than De Beers, forever changing how love and romance were expressed. It is no surprise then that De Beers profited massively; they were able to dominate the diamond industry and dictate how it was run. Due to their total control of the supply chain, they were able to determine global diamond prices as they saw fit.


Consequently, De Beers' influence and pressure on GIA and other diamond-related institutions were truly enormous and impossible to goagainst as doing so would result in corporate suicide. However, by the middle of 2019, GIA was forced to concede defeat and quietly announced that it would resume certifying all lab grown diamonds. This time including colourless stones. Even detractors could not deny the fact that lab grown diamonds were here to stay after such a prestigious diamond certifier wholeheartedly resumed certifying lab diamonds.


Even so, GIA couldn't completely avoid De Beers' influence altogether; GIA will grade lab grown diamonds differently than mined diamonds to certify lab grown diamonds. It didn't take long before it was noticed that this system was designed to devalue lab grown diamonds. Those reading between the lines could clearly see this was an intentional effort to keep mined diamonds in the spotlight by highlighting their 'superiority' over lab grown diamonds. Essentially, De Beers was once again abusing its waning power as a last-ditch attempt at preserve its monopoly.

GIA vs IGI

IF YOU CAN'T BEAT THEM, JOIN THEM!


In what must have come as a surprise to no one, this dishonest tactic backfired spectacularly on GIA and De Beers’ coalition which was at this time tenuous at best. In the face of overwhelming backlash, GIA accepted defeat; they scraped the dogy grading system in favour of applying the original for both mined and man made diamonds. We, like many others in the diamond industry, were very happy about the news, but none more so than human rights and environmental activists.


The change of stance by GIA, however, is widely viewed within the diamond industry as having come too late. Their earlier shenanigans have allowed their chief competitor, IGI, to capture the lab grown diamond grading and certification market. When it comes to diamond certification, IGI has become the authority, while GIA is the underdog; GIA has a long road ahead and a lot of hard work if they are ever to regain their former prominence.

 

PROS AND CONS OF GIA


In what ways does GIA entering back into the lab made diamonds certification market affect you as a customer? In short, you will have to pay a premium if you want a diamond that is certified by GIA. So why, you may ask, are you paying extra for a GIA certificate? To start with, GIA's operating costs are higher compared to IGI's, which naturally inflates their certification prices. Since GIA has fewer global offices than their chief competitor, IGI, their output is thus lower. Another more limiting factor is that most GIA labs limit certification to certain diamonds size. For instance, the GIA office in Hong Kong only certifies diamonds below 2.00CTs. 2cts and above are exclusively dealt with by GIA US. The grading time for their diamonds is not favourable either, taking around a whole month to certify a diamond, which they claim is due to their ‘stricter standards’, unlike the just a few days required by IGI.
Therefore, GIA-certified stones are considerably more expensive than similarly IGI-certified diamonds. We do our best to absorb most of the price difference, but NOVITA DIAMONDS unfortunately must pass some of it along to the customer.
Cons: Stones certified by GIA (the Gemological Institute of America) will be up to 15% more expensive.

 

THE WINNER IS THE MARKET


By going all in, a revered and prestigious institution like GIA, unquestionably proves the legitimacy of man made diamonds and, in some key regards, their superiority over mined diamonds. The end result is that almost everyone benefits, none more so than the end customer, who is now provided with a compelling alternative to mined diamonds. Furthermore, GIA's full embrace of lab grown diamonds effectively negates all baseless claims that have been made by those who have a vested interest in mined diamonds against lab grown diamonds.

 

WHAT SHOULD YOU BUY -  IGI VS GIA?


When choosing a diamond for your yourself or your loved one, we recommend choosing an IGI diamond rather than one certified by GIA. Both IGI and GIA are trustworthy labs, both having good track records. However, the large savings afforded by choosing an IGI certified diamond outweighs any perceived quality advantage from a GIA certified diamond. Moreover, because IGI had a head start over GIA, which stopped certifying lab-grown diamonds in the middle, they have a vast variety of stones to choose from, giving them a competitive advantage.
True: IGI is the most popular and dominant lab in the world for lab grown diamonds.
True: GIA is the most popular and dominant lab in the world for mined diamonds.

 

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GIA vs IGI