It is common to come across gemstones that are accompanied by a certification or identification report, especially when purchasing expensive stones. A gemstone certificate is a document produced by a gemological laboratory specializing in gemstone testing. Basically a written assurance guaranteeing the gemstone you are getting is exactly what you are paying for. This written guarantee is backed by the issuing laboratory who is stating their reputation that the information reported is accurate. In addition to the obvious benefit of having a laboratory confirm the gemstones authenticity having a certification report to accompany a gemstone can be especially helpful if you end up reselling the stone.
Gemological labs are faced with the tasks of producing gemstone certification that verifies the identity of a gemstone, determine if it is natural or synthetic, and if it has been subjected to any form of treatment as well as noting any physical properties such as color, cut, clarity, carat weight, and dimensions. Gemstones are often treated to enhance their appearance to make them more desirable. Sometimes the treatment is something as simple as gentle heat which is generally acceptable and other times it is more altering like with chemical diffusion treatments or irradiation. The labs gemologist uses a variety of techniques and sophisticated diagnostic equipment including microscopic examination, energy dispersive x-ray fluorescence (EDIF) spectrometry, laser induced breakdown spectrometry (LIBS), and flourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometry. The gemologist working at a laboratory is likely to encounter thousands of stones every year making them highly efficient at identify gemstones and the treatments they have been enhanced with.
Any savvy gemstone buyer should be aware that a seller issued gemstone certification is not an acceptable practice in the gem trade. The reason being it is a clear conflict of interest and is unethical for a dealer to issue a certificates for any gemstone they are selling. A gemstone certificate should be from a third party, independent of the seller that has no financial gain at stake from the transaction. It is the best practice to use a gemological laboratory specializing in the analysis and testing of gemstones. There are many gemologists capable to identify a gemstone but it is always better to have a gemological laboratory that has the latest diagnostic equipment and has an incentive to report accurate finding with the labs reputation on the line keeping them honest. There are hundreds of reputable gemological labs across the globe but some are more widely recognized by the industry. Gemstones certification is available in a variety of types, differing in the extent of testing and the amount of information disclosed. A full report will go into detail listing everything about the gemstones in some case including origin, which will be more expensive than an identification report that only list the type and basic properties. A report can cost anywhere from ten dollars at a less reputable laboratory up to thousands depending of variety and size. The leading labs in industry (GIA or AIGS) will be very expensive compared to some other less known labs (GIL, IGEC, AGS, IGI) that are still considered reputable and are capable of issuing accurate certification/identification reports at a lower cost.
Appraisal vs. Certification
It is important to know the difference between a gemstone certification and a gemstone appraisal as they are very different but are often confused. When a gemstone is certified it is done by a skilled gemologist who performs test on a gemstone then issues a report summarizing the scientific findings. The certification report can be used to create an appraisal, but an appraisal is performed by an appraiser who is simply attempting to assign a monetary value to a given item or gemstone. A jewelry appraiser uses current market knowledge and trends to estimate a gemstones value. An appraisal only estimates value and guarantees nothing about authenticity. An important factor to consider is an appraisal will probably have some variability from one appraiser to the next, while a certification reports should remain constant no matter which lab it is from, assuming the lab did not make a mistake. This potential variability can give unethical distributors an opportunity to deceive it customers by misrepresenting the authenticity using an appraisal. Remember an appraisal is opinion based on perceived market values and certification is produced by a gemological laboratory who conducts unbiased scientific testing.
There are many credible gemological laboratories that produce gemstone certification reports and we have gemstones certified from most of the different labs. Laboratories: GIA, AIGS, IGEC,
HKD, EGL, AGS, IGI, GIL, GCI, AAA, IDT, GRS
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