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Feb 23, 2023
Diamonds
GIA vs IGI

GIA's recent announcement to fully certify colorless (white)  lab grown diamonds is a significant moment in the history of the diamond industry, albeit coming later than expected. As industry veterans and experts, we would like to take this opportunity to share our thoughts on what this means for you as a customer and the global man-made diamond market as a whole. Of particular note is that GIA will be using the same methodology and standards for lab grown diamonds that they use for mined diamonds. Furthermore, we will delve into the fascinating journey that led GIA to make this decision.

 

LAB GROWN DIAMONDS AND GIA HISTORY

 

Ever since lab grown diamonds entered the diamond market, the story of GIA and lab grown diamonds has been closely intertwined. As the most reputable diamond certifier globally, GIA has been a strong advocate of lab grown diamonds from the start and was among the first to certify them. It is worth noting that about 15 years ago, man-made diamonds were generally regarded as inferior to mined diamonds because they often had a yellowish hue. However, with advancements in technology, lab grown diamonds can now be produced with a colorless appearance, making them virtually indistinguishable from their mined counterparts.

UNBEATABLE VALUE ON LAB DIAMONDS



 

Four years ago, the introduction of the first high-quality, gem-like, colorless lab grown diamonds marked a turning point in the diamond industry. However, to the surprise of many, GIA, which had been an early adopter and a strong supporter of lab grown diamonds, suddenly stopped certifying them. This decision was quite perplexing and seemingly illogical to industry insiders like us, and it was a hot topic of discussion for a long time. If GIA had continued to certify lab grown diamonds as they had done previously, they could have capitalized on this game-changing development and reaped significant rewards with minimal effort.

 

Over time, various theories and speculations emerged as to why GIA stopped certifying lab grown diamonds. Among them, one theory emerged as the most credible and has been backed up by multiple pieces of evidence. According to this theory, De Beers, feeling threatened by the increasing quality of lab grown diamonds, which had become virtually identical to mined diamonds, exerted pressure on GIA to halt their certification of lab grown diamonds.

To provide background for some of our younger audience, De Beers is a major player in the world of diamonds, and their influence has been instrumental in shaping the diamond industry as we know it today. They were a driving force in making diamonds the go-to choice for engagements and weddings in nearly every culture. De Beers coined the unforgettable and instantly recognizable term "Diamonds are forever," forever changing how love and romance were expressed. As a result, De Beers profited massively and was able to dominate the diamond industry and dictate how it was run. They had total control over the supply chain and, as a result, could control global diamond prices.

 

It's worth noting that while De Beers has historically had a significant impact on the diamond industry, the company's influence has decreased over time. Today, De Beers is just one of several major players in the industry, and lab grown diamonds have become increasingly popular among consumers. The decision by GIA to certify lab grown diamonds is significant not only because it indicates the increasing acceptance of these diamonds in the industry, but also because it ensures that consumers can have confidence in the quality of the diamonds they are purchasing, whether they are natural or lab grown.

 

Despite efforts to maintain independence, GIA remained subject to the influence of De Beers, who required GIA to use a distinct grading system for lab grown diamonds, separate from the system used for mined diamonds. It became apparent that this new system was intentionally created to undervalue lab grown diamonds, a tactic that aimed to preserve the prominence of mined diamonds. The discerning observer could easily deduce that this was a strategic move by De Beers to leverage its power and maintain its monopoly in the diamond industry.

IF YOU CAN'T BEAT THEM, JOIN THEM!

 

Unsurprisingly, the deceitful and underhanded strategy of the GIA-De Beers coalition met with a resounding failure. Faced with immense criticism, GIA was compelled to abandon the unfair grading system and instead adopt the original system for both mined and lab grown diamonds. The news was met with widespread approval, especially from environmentally conscious individuals and key stakeholders in the diamond industry, such as ourselves.

 

Despite GIA's efforts to rectify the situation, numerous members of the diamond industry feel that it was too little too late. GIA's previous misconduct allowed their primary rival, IGI, to take the lead in the lab grown diamond grading and certification sector. As a result, IGI has emerged as the dominant force, leaving GIA in the position of the underdog. It is now incumbent on GIA to work diligently to regain its former status as the preeminent authority in diamond certification.

 

PROS AND CONS OF GIA

 

As a consumer, you can expect to pay a higher price if you opt for a diamond certified by GIA. You might wonder why it is worth paying extra for a GIA certificate. Firstly, GIA's operating expenses are higher than IGI's, which naturally translates to higher certification fees. Secondly, GIA has a lower output due to having fewer global offices compared to their chief competitor, IGI. Another potential limitation is that GIA labs have certain restrictions on the size of diamonds they certify. For example, the GIA office in Hong Kong only certifies diamonds below 2.00CTs, while diamonds 2cts and above are exclusively dealt with by GIA US. Furthermore, GIA's grading process takes around a month, citing stricter standards, whereas IGI can certify diamonds in just a few days at most.

 

As a result of these factors, GIA-certified diamonds command a significant premium over IGI-certified diamonds. While we at NOVITA DIAMONDS try to absorb most of this price difference, we are unfortunately forced to pass down some of the added premium to our customers.

Cons: GIA certified stones will be an estimated 10 – 15% higher in cost.

THE WINNER IS THE MARKET 

 

GIA's decision to fully embrace lab grown diamonds is a clear and undeniable endorsement of their legitimacy, highlighting the fact that they are equal to, and in some ways, superior to mined diamonds. As a result, virtually everyone stands to benefit, most notably the end customer, who now has a compelling alternative to mined diamonds. Furthermore, GIA's wholehearted acceptance of lab grown diamonds conclusively debunks all the unfounded allegations made by those with a vested interest in mined diamonds against lab grown diamonds. This marks a significant and permanent shift in the diamond industry, one that will undoubtedly continue to evolve and improve over time.

 

WHAT SHOULD YOU BUY -  IGI VS GIA?

 

As a customer, we strongly recommend that you opt for an IGI-certified diamond over a stone certified by GIA. Both IGI and GIA are reputable labs with excellent track records, but the substantial cost savings associated with choosing an IGI-certified diamond outweigh any perceived quality advantages of a GIA-certified diamond. In addition, IGI's head start in certifying lab grown diamonds has allowed them to certify a much wider range of stones, giving them an edge in terms of variety and choice.

De Beers' ill-timed interference with GIA has allowed IGI to become the leader in lab grown diamond certification. By choosing an IGI diamond, you will have access to a wide variety of diamonds at a significantly lower cost than a comparable GIA-certified stone. While it may take GIA a long time, if ever, to catch up to IGI's offerings, as a customer, you are better off purchasing an IGI-certified diamond.

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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