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Diamond certification is the keystone of any trustworthy diamond purchase. Without certification, you’ve no idea whether the diamond you’re buying is legitimate, and so you really can save yourself time and money by ensuring the diamond you’re looking at has the right certification. Certification from an organization like the Gemological Institute of America goes a long way—but what about lesser-known names?
You may have come across the name ‘EGL’ in the past, or you might be looking at a diamond right now that has EGL diamond certification. You may be asking, ‘Who are the EGL? Are they trustworthy?’. I’ve been where you are, and I’m here today to answer these questions and more.
- Who Are The EGL?
- Is EGL Diamond Certification Trustworthy?
- The EGL versus the GIA
- Should I Buy an EGL-Certified Diamond?
- The Final Verdict
Who Are The EGL?
The European Gemological Laboratories, better known as the EGL, is one of, if not the largest independent network of gemological laboratories. Established in 1974, the EGL is a for-profit organization (in contrast to the GIA). While primarily based in Europe, their laboratories stretch into other countries around the world, such as India, South Africa, Israel, and the USA.
Is EGL Diamond Certification Trustworthy?
This is the question you’re all here for, and it is a little complex to answer. The short answer? No. Let me explain:
The key to a good diamond certification organization is consistency. Imagine a scientist trying to produce a certain effect with a new theory. There will be that the theory (or equation) produces the same answer time and time again, because not only does this mean that their theory is correct, but that it’s also trustworthy. Diamond certification is very much the same.
With consistency comes the ability to look at two diamonds with two certificates, each supplied by the same organization, and say ‘I trust these diamonds to be what they are described as’. Even if the diamond is a poor quality stone, I want to know if I can trust it to be as is described by the retailer (I wouldn’t buy it, but it’s valuable to know where you stand—If I can’t trust the bad diamonds, I definitely won’t be able to trust the great ones).
Unfortunately for the EGL, what they can promise is inconsistency within their certification processes. Time and time again I’ve seen unfortunate circumstances where EGL-certified diamonds have had their quality inflated past what is true. This is a common way for untrustworthy retailers to sell diamonds for inflated prices, and some certification bodies are more than happy to give these inflated grades. For example, you might find a diamond that’s been given a H color grading, but it will actually be a J.
What often happens with the EGL is that one of their laboratories will provide a grading for a diamond that’s most likely an inflated grading. Now, a retailer (who might be acting honestly, but may not know better) can choose to try and legitimize that grading by getting a second grading from another EGL laboratory. The second lab will, more often than not, ‘honor’ the first grading and provide the same one, which further legitimizes an incorrect grading.
This often happens with the original grading given by a less trustworthy laboratory, who will then get a second grading by one viewed as more legitimate, or with better reviews.
The EGL versus the GIA
The GIA sets the standard when it comes to trustworthy diamond certification, so what’s the difference between GIA and EGL diamond certification?
At first look, the GIA is consistent and more firm in the certifications that it provides, offering uniformity within its grading processes. You’ll often find that GIA-certified diamonds are sold pretty much everywhere, whereas some retailers refuse to stock EGL-certified stones. But that begs the question—why does the EGL have a place in the market?
The answer is that the EGL is still an attractive option to some. First of all, the GIA is one of the more expensive laboratories, whereas the EGL is a cheaper option. This is attractive for jewelry chains looking to gain certification for large amounts of product. Also, the EGL offers very fast turnaround compared to the GIA, also an attractive trait for retail chains. Similarly, because the EGL offers inflated grades, retail chains who prefer profit over quality will also look to the EGL for a quick, cheap certification that allows them to sell poorer quality diamonds for higher prices.
Should I Buy an EGL-Certified Diamond?
I would never recommend purchasing a diamond certified by the EGL. While all diamonds have a certain value, you’ll always want to avoid paying an inflated price for a grade-inflated diamond. I would always recommend the certification provided by the GIA, and there are several best practices for doing this that I detail in my diamond education section.
But will buying an EGL-certified diamond save you money? In the long run, the answer is now. Yes, you might be able to save some money when first purchasing your diamond, but you might encounter several issues:
- A poor quality diamond runs a higher risk of damage over time from internal impurities.
- You may find out the true value and quality of the diamond at some point, showing you just how much you overpaid.
- You may try to resell the diamond and find it’s worth only a fraction of what you spent on it.
You should always try and get advice from a respected jeweler. And if they’re a respected jeweler, they probably don’t sell EGL-certified diamonds in the first place.
The Final Verdict
In conclusion, I would never personally recommend buying a diamond with EGL diamond certification. Yes, there’s a small chance that the diamond you buy is exactly as described, but the risk attached to that purchase is HUGE—and in all honesty, who wants to make a gamble like that with such poor odds?
A purchase with an EGL certificate will always be unable to grant you the peace of mind you’re looking for when spending so much money on something so important. In general, the EGL is not only a sign of a bad diamond, but also an untrustworthy retailer who is trying to unload poor quality gemstones on unsuspecting customers while trying to make a tidy profit.
Discover More About Diamond Certification
Diamond certification is where gemstones have been graded by a reputable gem lab on the basis of their Four C attributes, which are Cut, Carat, Color, and Clarity. These diamonds have undergone quality analysis by a trusted gemological lab, such as GIA or AGS, and have been issued a lab report, which is commonly referred to as a “certificate” or “report”.
Purchasing a diamond with the right certification is a vital step in making the most of your money and walking away with a good quality diamond that will both stay good quality and retain its value over time.
If you’re looking for more information on diamond certification and the type you should look for, head to my diamond certification page.