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Compare GIA to IGI Certified Diamonds

“It’s IGI…”

I get many emails from people wanting advice about diamonds and quality (in my Diamond Q&A Here; so if you want help deciding between stones, email me).

And as much as I emphasize “BUY GIA” all the time, I still get people wanting to compare “IGI” or “EGL” certified diamonds… Like so:

“I know that you highly recommend GIA on your website, but I found this IGI certified diamond graded SI2 and it was priced much cheaper than GIA. Can you take a look at these and tell me why…”

No matter what, many people are under the impression that ALL certified diamonds are the same. That an SI1 diamond from one company is an SI1 diamond from another…


When you compare diamonds, it’s important to compare “like” certificates; GIA to GIA, IGI to IGI, EGL to EGL… Otherwise, it’s like comparing night and day.

But still, you shouldn’t even be looking at anything but GIA. GIA is the leader in the industry. After all, they wrote the book on diamond grading. They literally devised the 4C grading system. There is no one better in the World to grade a diamond more accurately than GIA. Comparing GIA to IGI is like apples to oranges. It’s not the same.

Compare GIA To IGI Diamonds

An SI1, E, GIA certified diamond will usually look much better than an SI1, E, IGI certified diamond. This is because GIA is ultra strict, uses triple redundancy when grading, and rounds down. IGI is more lax and lenient and their grades are often eyebrow raising.

Meaning, an SI1, E, IGI certified diamond could really be an SI2, F, instead.

Compare the prices below…

1.00, SI1, E, EX, EX, EX, NONE $6,000 VIEW
1.00, SI2, F, EX, EX, EX, NONE $4,500 VIEW

(Prices good at the time of this post)

Do they look the same???

No. So why does this happen?

It happens because grading is subjective. It’s someone (an expert) looking at a diamond and grading it. And since every single diamond is different, you’re going to get many different opinions. The FTC allows for such opinions and differences. They allow diamond graders to be off by one whole grade; SI1 to SI2. SI2 to I1… (same with diamond color as well; E to F, F to G…)

IGI and EGL are much more forgiving when it comes to official documented grades and tend to round up (grade bumping) the quality more often than not (If the stone is graded higher, the jeweler makes more money; which is why some jewelers use them).

We see it all the time

Customers will bring in IGI certified stones to upgrade or sell, and if you look at the stone, then look at the certificate, you’d know it’s not accurate. Sometimes they are… but many times they are off.

And to prove this, let’s compare some GIA and IGI diamonds.

I’ve gone to James Allen and grabbed some stones to compare.

Look at these:

Compare GIA SI2 K Diamond To IGI SI2 K Diamond

Compare GIA SI2 F Diamond To IGI SI2 F Diamond

Compare GIA SI2 D Diamond To IGI SI2 D Diamond

Now, I know what you’re thinking…

You’re thinking that I grabbed the WORST IGI diamonds I could find, and the BEST GIA diamonds…

This is true to a point (the point I’m trying to make)….

But here’s the real truth:

It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because both of the diamonds are graded exactly the same. EXACTLY! And yes, there are some IGI diamonds that don’t look so bad (like that last one above). Some will appear closer to the GIA graded diamonds, sure. But are you willing to risk that? How would you know which diamond you’d get? Unless you actually compared them side by side, you’d never know.

Both stones are rated identical

But their price is not!

Why are IGI diamonds so much cheaper? Because the certificates are cheaper. The equipment used isn’t equal. The quality is questionable. The diamonds don’t look the same. They don’t sell the same… Consumers opinions about them aren’t the same…

You can see it with your own eyes

And like I’ve said, not all IGI diamonds will be this extreme (although really, I just picked from the top 20 stones, so it’s not like I spent hours trying to find the worst specimens. They were pretty apparent). Some will be, and that’s what I’m saying.

Let price be your judge:

If an IGI diamond is a thousand dollars less than a GIA diamond… Don’t buy it! If they truly were the same quality of diamond, they’d be much closer in price; not miles apart.

Which is funny because…

Price is why people buy them!!!

People see the price difference. They think they’re getting a good deal. They want to save money, I get it. But some people just don’t care. All they see is the price tag. And if that’s your true concern, then I can’t help you.

But for others…

Here’s my advice:

If you’re looking for certified stones, compare them. View same quality stones under a microscope. See the difference yourself.

Otherwise, you could be overpaying and not getting what you thought you were getting.

Stick with GIA and your diamonds will be graded expertly. You’ll be able to trust the results.

It’s your money. Your choice.

But after viewing stones and comparing them, I’m sure you’ll lean towards GIA.

Just like these GIA certified diamonds below

GIA Certified Diamonds SI1 Colorless

Cheers! :)

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Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaner Jewelry Steam Cleaner Complete Jewelry Cleaner Kit Diamond Dazzle Stick
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Recommended Jewelry Supplies:

Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaner Jewelry Steam Cleaner
Complete Jewelry Cleaner Kit Diamond Dazzle Stick
Gold Silver Jewelry Polishing Cloths Jewelry Making Supplies Kit
Gold Acid Test Kit Watch Tool Repair Kit
Ring Adjusters EMT Emergency Ring Cutter
10x Jewelers Loupe Jewelers Microscope

2 Comments on COMPARE GIA TO IGI

  1. I’m in the process of shopping for an engagement diamond, and my feelings are the same as yours, GIA all the way.

    BUT….I’m planning on getting lab grown and I’ve talked to multiple jewelers and they all say it is almost impossible to find lab grown diamonds with GIA certificates. That only 5% of the inventory out there is GIA certified and that for lab grown diamonds it doesn’t matter so much. Would you modify your advice at all for lab grown? If I can’t get GIA, what’s the 2nd best certification?

    One jeweler said I could buy a non-GIA stone & then ship it to GIA for an evaluation, as long as I’m willing to pay the extra certification fee, and willing to wait for their examination. Have you heard of that?

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