In a Nutshell: When it comes to buying diamonds or precious gemstones, there’s a lot to consider. For most people, it all begins with the hefty price tag that’s attached. Using modern technology and professional insights, the International Gemological Institute, or IGI, has been helping people buy and sell diamonds and stones with confidence since its inception in 1975. The organization exists worldwide to provide certification and appraisal to industry professionals and consumers. IGI empowers jewelry buyers to know exactly what they’re paying for through authentication services that bring transparency to the process.
When deciding to invest in a pricey piece of jewelry or gemstone, it’s a good idea to know what you’re getting yourself into. In other words, you want to make sure that what you’re purchasing is authentic and fairly priced. Once upon a time, however, you had to rely on intuition and trust that a jeweler was selling you a legitimate product that was as good as advertised.
Choosing a reputable retailer is a good place to start, but a foolproof way to determine with confidence the actual value of your jewelry hasn’t always existed. Even an experienced jeweler with a loupe can’t detect every inclusion or whether a diamond is from the earth or it was synthetically grown in a lab, which drastically affects the overall value.
“We’re an independent, unbiased, professional resource for information regarding gemstones and jewelry,” said IGI President and CEO, Jerry Ehrenwald. “We don’t buy, and we don’t sell. It’s totally unbiased, independent reporting of our findings, and all of our gemologists are graduate gemologists.”
Buyers should be mindful of the all-important 4Cs — cut, color, clarity, and carat — but these qualities don’t mean much without the paperwork to back them up. This is precisely why IGI exists — to provide you with the assurance of quality and authenticity in each of these areas.
“When we’re asked to do an appraisal on an article of jewelry, we have professionally accredited appraisers from the the American Society of Appraisers [ASA],” Jerry said. “And a prerequisite to earning senior status in ASA is having your graduate gemologist diploma. We always strive to maintain the highest credibility in the industry.”
Why an Authentic IGI Certificate Instills Trust and Confidence in Buyers
Diamonds and other precious gemstones are sizable investments, and often some of the most important purchases you’ll make in your lifetime. Without certification or some type of assurance that what you’re buying is authentic and meets the advertised standards of quality, however, you’re left to your own intuition and the mercy of the seller.
Many diamonds are now grown in labs. Others are treated to improve appearance. Many consumers aren’t bothered by these details and opt for these stones as they tend to cost less. However, it’s important to have transparency and know more about each piece of jewelry.
“The information in a certificate is extremely important to the consumer so that they can make an informed decision,” Jerry said. “It becomes an integral part of the buying decision based on the information that is vital to the consumer when comparing one stone to another. Sophisticated jewelers will show independent diamond grading reports.”
Many gemstone qualities, like carat weight and inclusions, simply aren’t visible with the naked eye. Just like with any big purchase, a little research is wise. IGI’s ASA-accredited appraisers have already done the necessary homework, research, and lab testing, and all of their findings are listed on each IGI certificate. A certificate allows you to comparison shop and trust the details of your purchase, which goes a long way when you’re ready to close the deal on a new diamond or gemstone.
How the Internationally Recognized 4Cs plus IGI’s “Fifth C” Impact the Valuation Process
IGI is known for providing the all-important “fifth C” for consumers, which follows, of course, the industry-standard 4Cs. The fifth C stands for confidence, which is precisely what customers are getting when they obtain a certificate of authenticity from IGI.
“In my experience, there are two factors that a consumer considers when purchasing a diamond — first is the emotional impact,” Jerry said. “That’s 50% of what a consumer considers important. The other half of the buying decision is asking, ‘how high up on the scale of grading diamonds is this particular stone?’ We have an internationally accepted standard for grading diamonds, and that diamond grading report is vital to a person purchasing a diamond.”
When it comes to a gemstone or diamond purchase, the pricing is in the details. Customers won’t generally buy something expensive without feeling confident that they’re getting a good deal. Having access to a comprehensive report from IGI is like having a blueprint identifying all of the qualities, from cut, to weight, to shape, to clarity, right down to the precise decimal.
An Evolution in Diamond Trends: Why Customers and Investors are Gravitating Toward Unusual Diamond Colors
Naturally occurring diamonds are special. They’re rare, they’re beautiful, and diamonds can be passed down within families for generations. Even more rare than your timeless clear diamond, however, is a colored diamond, and unusual diamond colors are an emerging trend in the gem world.
“Of all the fancy colors, yellow is probably the most common,” Jerry said. “What I’m also seeing is people purchasing these unique, vivid color diamonds, like pink and blue, at extremely high values. It’s really about what’s in vogue at a particular time.”
Prior to diamond grading, colored diamonds weren’t worth much, but newer reports tell diamond appraisers that colored diamonds don’t occur very often in nature. These findings have resulted in a new and huge market for large, vividly colored diamonds. They’re being purchased by private buyers, but investors are also taking notice and picking up these fancy stones because of their rarity, which makes them much more valuable.
IGI: Empowering Jewelry Buyers to Make Informed Purchasing Decisions Since 1975
With more diamond and gem choices on the market, and the recent introduction of laboratory grown diamonds, having a way to authenticate a stone is a crucial part of the buyer’s purchasing decision. It’s also very important to retailers and dealers, who often get their merchandise from wholesalers.
Confidence goes far when it comes to buying expensive jewelry and gemstones. Depending on the occasion, these purchases can be some of life’s most meaningful investments.
Purchasing a non-certified diamond or gemstone can be likened to buying a used car without a vehicle history report, which, at the end of the day, means you’re spending a lot of money on something whose true value you don’t know. If you’re going to take the plunge and make a high-end jewelry purchase, don’t you want the confidence of knowing that purchase’s real worth? After all, it could become a family heirloom, and an IGI-certified gemstone will retain its value throughout the years.
Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.