The Importance Of Certification

GradingGemstones are beautiful crystals born in the earth. They are made from minerals and organic materials in natural processes of fossilization, heat and pressure and dehydration. They have been coveted and prized for centuries, cut and polished into beautiful jewels and worn in jewelry. Some gemstones are similar in appearance to others if you are not sure what you are looking at. For example spinel is famously mistaken for ruby and even holds centre stage in the Imperial State crown of the British Crown Jewels. Prince Edward purchased the stone in the 14th century believing it to be a magnificent 170 carat ruby. In the 1940s with improvements in technology and gemmological knowledge, gemstones are more easily identified, and the stone was proven to be, in fact, a spinel.

Technology has not only improved the identification of gemstones, but has also allowed for synthetic gemstones to be manufactured in laboratories to imitate genuine gemstones. In 1976 cubic zirconia (zirconium oxide), a synthetic crystal often used in costume jewellery as a diamond substitute became commercial and were often mistaken for diamonds. In 1998 moissanite was introduced to the jewelry market. This substance is actually silicon carbide and naturally occurs as inclusions or imperfections within diamonds. It is harder than sapphire or ruby, making it more durable as an alternative, but as some of its optical properties exceed those of diamond, it looks “too sparkly” and that gives away its true nature as the diamond’s cheaper alternative when worn in jewelry. It is an excellent substitute for diamonds in large-volume industrial applications. That said, this week, a leading producer of moissanite jewelry announced that its 2012 sales of moissanite increased 40% suggesting that despite its origin, it is becoming more popular in the jewelry market. It is important to be aware of this stone. If you want a diamond substitute, it may be an option for you, but you do not want to purchase a moissanite in error. A certified gemmologist will be able to validate your stones and appraise them for valuation. A moissanite solitaire is worth much less than its natural diamond counterpart.

Lab technology has also developed to reproduce the exact mineral structure of gemstones. Rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and even diamonds can now be “grown” in machines to possess the identical chemical and physical properties and characteristics of the naturally occurring stones costing a fraction of the price to produce, and often misleading to the end client purchasing the stone at full cost. Smaller synthetic diamonds have been manufactured for industrial uses in large quantities, but now the larger, gem-quality stones are becoming available in multiple carats for jewelry. They are most commonly sold online and are graded by independent laboratories stating “lab grown” as their origin to maintain transparency. Despite their clarity in appearance, these stones are not as valuable as the naturally occurring variety.

If you are purchasing a diamond or diamond jewelry, or perhaps you have already done so, it is important to obtain a certification. A certified diamond is a diamond accompanied by it’s very own report done by an independent lab, free of any special interests. These reports grade the 4 c’s (clarity, cut, color, carat) with additional information i.e., flourescence, polish, symmetry, etc. Newer reports will also give a detailed description of a diamonds cut grades along with detailed numbers and percentages. Remember that these factors (the 4 c’s) are variables that can be worked with to find the best diamond in your budget. Working with a qualified and experienced gemologist, you can find the best combination of clarity and colour, and ensure that it is cut and set in such a way that it maximizes the true nature of the stone. An E SI2, for example may look flawless in the right ring, while different cut will emphasize the sparkle in different ways.Diamond

There are many labs that provide a grading service, however within the trade there are different levels of strictness. Hence a report is only as strong as the reputation of the lab. At Secret Sapphire Luxury Jewelry in Vancouver, we use certificates from AGS, EGL, GIA, HRD and IGI laboratories. Check out the links at the bottom of our homepage for more information. Visit us at 493 Davie Street and check out our Heart’s on Fire diamonds “the world’s most perfectly cut diamond” in store and speak to Monica Tsao, or resident GIA gemologist for advice on sourcing a stone for your new ring, or to get your old jewelry appraised. Drop in Tuesday to Saturday 10.30-5.30 or call to book an appointment at 604-558-3638.