When you’re dropping a wad of cash on something (for better or for worse), you want to know it’s legit, and this includes whatever rock you’re putting on your significant other’s finger. With that being said it’s a good idea to get an appraisal or report independent of the jeweler who sold it to you.
In a nutshell, the diamond report tells you the size, color, clarity and cut of the diamond as well as specific characteristics of its manufacture.
Not all reports are equal. Of the dozen or so national appraisal companies out there, only two are considered important by diamond professionals and used actively in buying.
The best is GIA, which stands for the “Gemological Institute of America.” Originally founded in the 1920s to educate jewelers about the various properties of diamonds and colored stones, this also has the Gem Trade Lab (GTL). The GTL is the nationally recognized leader in the US and world in reporting the properties (and in the case of colored stones, the origin) of each stone supplied.
The other report to consider is the EGL (European Gem Labs), a US company created to compete with GIA. However, You have to be careful. EGL USA is the best, or fairest, of all the EGL labs. The other EGL labs in other countries are independently owned and not as good. Because, duh – they’re not in America.
To put it bluntly, the EGL USA certificate should not be considered as strong as GIA and should be taken at a discount.
Don’t be afraid to comparison shop and use your own judgment when buying. If one stone is GIA and one EGL, compare them side by side for color and clarity. You’re the best judge on how to spend (read: recklessly blow) your money. Ask questions if you don’t understand something, because let’s face it, you won’t.
To sum this up (because something this financially and emotionally terrifying needs clif notes at the end)
Step 1: When buying the ring, go to a different jeweler than who you bought the stone from to get a diamond report.
Step 2: A diamond report should tell you the size, color, clarity and cut.
Step 3: Trust GIA reports more than EGL. If it’s EGL, pay less. If it’s not either of them, strongly reconsider whatever the hell you’re buying.
Step 4: Pray you never have to do this again.