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IGI Lab Diamonds A Shopper's Guide

IGI Lab Diamonds A Shopper's Guide

  Lab-grown diamonds, also known as cultured diamonds, are rapidly growing in popularity. With advancements in technology, lab-grown diamonds are now able to replicate the exceptional fire, brilliance and sparkle of mined diamonds. When paired with an independent grading report from a reputable gem lab like IGI, lab-grown diamonds offer outstanding quality and value.

 

  This guide will provide a comprehensive overview of IGI-graded lab-grown diamonds. We’ll cover topics like:

 

How lab-grown diamonds are created

 

・IGI diamond grading specifics

 

・Pricing and cost comparisons

 

・Identifying lab-grown diamonds

 

・Pros and cons of IGI-graded lab diamonds

 

・Finding the best quality IGI diamond

 

Read on for an in-depth look at everything you need to know about IGI’s role in grading and certifying lab-created diamonds.

 

An Introduction to IGI

  IGI stands for the International Gemological Institute, an independent grading laboratory founded in 1975 in Antwerp, Belgium. IGI has offices spanning major diamond trading centers like New York, Mumbai, Bangkok, and Tokyo.

 

  As one of the largest gemological organizations in the world, IGI grades and provides diamond reports for approximately 350,000 diamonds per year. On top of natural diamonds, IGI also grades lab-grown diamonds. In fact, they were the first lab to offer grading reports specifically for laboratory-grown diamonds.

 

Today, an IGI grading report is considered one of the most reliable diamond certificates. When shopping for lab-grown diamonds, an IGI-graded diamond provides assurance about the diamond’s quality and characteristics.

 

How Lab-Grown Diamonds Are Created

 

  Lab-grown diamonds are chemically identical to mined diamonds. They have the same optical and physical properties. But they are created in a highly controlled laboratory environment rather than underground.

 

There are two main methods for producing diamonds in a lab:

 

HPHT: High pressure, High temperature

  The HPHT method mimics the conditions under which diamonds form naturally in the earth. A diamond “seed” is placed in a specialized press where it is subjected to pressures over 1 million psi and temperatures over 2,500° F. The heated, pressurized environment causes the diamond seed to grow into a crystalline structure.

 

CVD: Chemical Vapor Deposition

  For CVD, a hydrocarbon gas mixture is placed in a low-pressure chamber. The gases react with each other through chemical reactions, forming layers of carbon atoms that accumulate on a diamond substrate. The carbon then crystallizes into the structured pattern that makes diamonds so hard and brilliant.

 

  With both production methods, lab diamonds can be grown in just a few weeks. The controlled lab environment allows manufacturers to adjust factors like pressure and heat to optimize diamond growth. The result is diamonds that rival or exceed many natural diamonds in quality.

 

IGI Lab Grown Diamond Grading Specifics

  The International Gemological Institute grades both natural and lab-grown diamonds on the same 4Cs grading scale: carat, cut, color and clarity. Here is an overview of

 

How IGI assesses each factor:

 

Carat Weight

A diamond’s carat weight measures the mass of the diamond. One carat is equal to 0.2 grams. IGI measures and records the carat weight to 4 decimal places for precise measurement. They also document the measurements of the diamond in millimeters.

 

Cut

Cut refers to the proportions, finish, and symmetry of the diamond. IGI grades the cut quality based on factors like bulb size, table and depth percentages, girdle thickness, culet size, and more. The highest cut grade for IGI is Excellent, followed by grades of Very Good, Good, Fair, and Poor.

 

Color

Diamond color is graded on a scale from D (colorless) to Z (light yellow/brown). Most lab-grown diamonds will fall into the colorless to near-colorless range due to controlled conditions. IGI uses master stones and scientific tools for consistent color grading.

 

Clarity

The clarity grade describes the size, number, and position of any tiny imperfections inside the diamond. Lab diamonds tend to have higher clarity due to their manufacturing. They may have some very tiny inclusions but rarely have large or numerous flaws. IGI documents clarity characteristics and assigns a clarity grade from Flawless (F) down to Imperfect 3 (I3).

 

Besides the 4Cs, IGI lab diamond reports also include key identification features to distinguish them from natural diamonds:

 

・The report will state “Laboratory-Grown Diamond” at the top

・Reports are marked with a hologram/serial number starting with LG

・The plot diagram of clarity characteristics has a distinct appearance

・Measured growth structures may be noted

 

So consumers can recognize the origin of IGI-graded diamonds, whether they are mined or made in a lab.

 

There are a few key reasons why lab diamonds graded by IGI come at more budget-friendly price points:

 

  No mining costs: Lab diamond manufacturers do not incur expensive mining and exploration expenses. The controlled laboratory environment is more efficient.

Unlimited supply: Labs can produce unlimited diamonds above ground, so supplies are higher. Mined diamonds are more limited.

 

  Lower markup: There are no middlemen like diamond cutters, wholesalers, and import/export costs. Lab diamond brands sell directly to consumers.

 

  Branding: Lab diamond brands typically spend less on marketing so they don’t have to pass on the cost through retail markups.

 

Spotting IGI Graded Lab Diamonds

IGI diamonds always contain features that clearly identify them as lab grown rather than mined. Here are the telltale signs that a diamond is IGI certified lab grown:

1. Engraved on the girdle will be the IGI logo along with a serial number starting with “LG”

 

2. The diamond report will explicitly state “Laboratory Grown Diamond Report” at the top

 

3. The plotted clarity diagram will have a distinct criss-cross pattern with rounded edges

 

4. Other clarity features like pinpoint clouds may be present

 

5. Under measurements, growth structures and grain center points may be listed

 

6. The title block will say “This is not a grading report” since labs don’t “grade” lab diamonds

 

If you aren’t sure about the origin of a diamond, any IGI office or authorized dealer can confirm whether an IGI report is for a lab diamond or a natural diamond. IGI also provides a report verification service on its website.

 

Pros and Cons of IGI Lab Diamonds

Let’s recap some of the key advantages and potential drawbacks of choosing an IGI-graded lab diamond:

 

Pros:

・Outstanding value - lower prices than mined diamonds

・High quality - D-F colorless, FL to VVS clarity readily available

・Ethical and environmentally friendly

・Eligible for diamond insurance and grading lab trade-in policies

・Socially responsible choice

・Certified and graded by industry experts

・Significant savings free up the budget for ring design

・Appearance just like a natural diamond, indistinguishable to the eye

 

Cons:

・Resale value unlikely to increase over time

・No emotional backstory for those valuing “natural” origins

・Not as prestigious as mined diamonds for some people

・Artificial manufacturing process doesn’t appeal to all

・Unable to verify location/origin like mined diamonds

・Potential stigma still exists among some consumers

・Choosing an Excellent Cut IGI Certified Diamond

・Cut quality is one of the most important considerations when selecting any diamond, as it directly influences the sparkle and light performance. While lab diamonds can achieve any cut grade, selecting one with a high grade of Excellent or Very Good ensures optimal brilliance. Here are some tips for choosing a top-tier lab diamond cut graded by IGI:

 

Prioritize proportions - Look for diamonds that fall within GIA’s or AGS’ ideal cut ranges for table size, depth percentage, crown angle, and more. The specs will directly impact the face-up appearance.

 

Look for symmetry - Well-cut diamonds exhibit symmetry in facets and shape. The closer to 100% symmetry, the better.

 

Consider facet quality - Diamonds with excellent polish and symmetry ratings will have the most crisp, bright reflections in the facets.

 

Review the plotted diagram - A clean, sharp Hearts and Arrows pattern without blurring or distortion indicates precise cutting.

 

Choose an ideal length-to-width ratio - Length-to-width ratios between 1.00 and 1.05 tend to face up in the most balanced way.

 

Know the certification limits - IGI Excellent cut lab diamonds must meet minimum requirements for factors like table size, girdle thinness, culet size and more.

 

While the cut is subjective, lab diamonds with IGI’s highest cut grade offer reliable choices that exhibit exceptional sparkle and brilliance.

 

Where to Buy Quality IGI Lab Diamonds

 Reputable sellers are critical for ensuring lab diamond quality. Seek out retailers that specialize in lab diamonds, work directly with the growers and provide IGI grading. Here are the top options for finding quality IGI certified lab diamonds:

 

Online Retailers

 Leading lab diamond retailers like Messigems sell IGI-graded options. Their inventory filters and advanced search features make it easy to find diamonds meeting your standards. Shopping online tends to offer lower pricing too.

 

Physical Stores

 Some national and independent jewelers now carry lab diamonds on-site. Blue Nile has a Curated Lab Diamonds line with select IGI stones. Local jewelers may also have IGI lab diamonds you can see in person.

 

IGI Certified Marketplaces

 Online marketplaces like Ritani allow multiple sellers to list IGI-graded lab diamonds. The selection aggregates options from various suppliers in one shopping destination for a convenient experience.

 

Lab Diamond Wholesalers

 Purchasing through a lab diamond wholesaler offers trade pricing. Many will sell individual diamonds to consumers and serve as suppliers to retailers. Just confirm any diamond is certified by IGI rather than just the wholesaler.

 

Are IGI Lab Diamonds the Right Choice?

 IGI-certified lab-grown diamonds offer a premium, ethically sourced alternative to mined diamonds. With recent advances in lab diamond technology, the quality now rivals that of natural diamonds. IGI’s reputation for integrity as a grading lab and a clearly marked report ensures transparency about a diamond’s synthetic origins.


 For shoppers who prioritize value, social impact, and technology over natural origins, IGI-graded lab diamonds check all the boxes. The lower price unlocks savings to invest back into a unique, personalized setting. With their stunning beauty mimicking earth-mined diamonds, IGI diamonds deliver exceptional quality with the added benefit of accessible prices.

 


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