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EGL vastly (and inconsistently) inflates their quality claims. You may think you’re getting a better deal, but in reality, you’re getting overcharged for an inferior product. For this reason, you should never buy a diamond with an EGL certificate. See our breakdown of EGL inconsistencies below. We recommend only purchasing a diamond with AGS or GIA certification. Choose a diamond from a reputable vendor like James Allen or Blue Nile.
In 1969, Guy Margel received his Gemology diploma from the American Gemological Society. He then returned to Belgium where he opened the first gemological institute in Antwerp, known today as the European Gemological Laboratory (EGL). Still headquartered in Belgium, EGL has offices across the world.
Since its inception, EGL provides gemological research, laboratory testing and analysis, and reports for diamonds, gemstones and jewelry. Unlike the GIA and AGS, the EGL is a for-profit organization. Not coincidentally, the EGL is consistently “looser” than the GIA when it comes to grading.
The EGL works as a grading entity, evaluating each diamond for its various qualities and components.
Cut, Color, Clarity and Carat represent the 4 C’s of a diamond—the four main components of its beauty and structure. Each C is graded on a scale by the EGL. The gradings are meant to help determine a diamond’s value and quality.
Diamond Cut, which is different than Diamond Shape, indicates the quality of a diamond’s proportions, angles, facets and finishing details.
EGL grades Cut on this scale:
A diamond’s Color indicates how colorless or white it is.
EGL’s color grading scale is represented below:
When you see Clarity on a diamond certificate, that grade represents how clean a diamond is from inclusions and blemishes. When it comes to Clarity, we recommend finding an eye clean diamond. If you’d like assistance reviewing a diamond, please contact us.
Carat refers to the weight of a diamond, not its size. A 1 Carat Diamond equals 200 milligrams, or 0.2 grams. Depending on Diamond Shape and how the stone is cut, two 1 Carat Diamonds can be quite different in size.
The overall appearance of a diamond should carry more importance than Carat weight itself.
A diamond’s proportions refer to its facet angles and dimensions. The crown, pavilion, culet, girdle, depth, diamond and table size all play a role in a diamond’s beauty. The proportions will be specified on an EGL report.
Due to the conflicting reports about their reliability, we want to provide examples of why we believe EGL certificates are not legitimate. As an example, we found an EGL certified 1.00ct H VS1 ideal cut online for $4,450. At first, this may seem like an excellent deal. In reality, though, when EGL claims it’s an H VS1, 50% of the time it’s a J SI1 and 50% of the time it’s a J SI2 or K SI1.
Compare that to these diamonds.
Here is a 1.06ct J SI1 excellent cut with legitimate certification for $3,785. At the best case scenario, you are overpaying 18% for the EGL certified diamond. But you are just as likely to be getting an even worse diamond.
Here is a 1.14ct K SI1 excellent cut for $3,290. If you are unlucky with the EGL stone, you end up overpaying by 35%.
You may also be in for a rude surprise if you buy what you think is a nice diamond. Then, you place it in a beautiful halo setting like this one. The diamond looks yellow despite a high color grade on the EGL certificate.
You can see more in the video below as it digs deep into this issue.
As a for-profit organization, EGL made a few very shrewd observations in the market and delivered very effective solutions. First of all, the GIA and AGS are expensive (a 1 carat diamond can cost around $100 to certify!). Secondly, GIA and AGS don’t offer excellent service and used to take a long time to grade diamonds.
Both the GIA and AGS don’t offer “pre-cert” options—this basically allows the company sending in the diamond for certification to only pay for the grading service and not for the certificate. They can also decide after receiving the results if they want to pay for the certificate to be printed.
One of the benefits of EGL (primarily for diamond sellers) is that it created an additional Clarity grade. In our opinion, the GIA’s “I1” grade covers too much ground. There are some “I1” Clarity diamonds that just barely miss an “SI2,” while there are some that are not even close to an “SI2.”
EGL solved these problems by inventing a new in-between Clarity grade of SI3. They are cheaper, they offer better service, they are quick, they offer pre-certs, and they invented a new in-between clarity grade of “SI3.”
If we had to estimate the average “upgrade” received from EGL for an identical diamond versus the GIA, we would estimate 2.5 upgrades either from Color or Clarity or both.
For example, if the GIA grades a diamond an “I” color and “SI2” clarity, receiving an “H” color and “SI1” clarity would be consider two upgrades (one Color + one Clarity).
But if that same diamond received a “G” color and “SI1” clarity, it would be considered three upgrades (two Color + one Clarity).
The entire diamond market is aware of the upgrades EGL usually gives. Therefore EGL graded diamonds sell at a significant discount when compared to diamonds of equivalent grades certified by the GIA.
It’s important to note that the different EGL locations are all separately run businesses. EGL Los Angeles and EGL New York have the best reputations. EGL Europe and EGL Israel are known to be so loose that they border on fraud.
Almost without exception, you should never buy an EGL certified diamond.
Firstly, let’s dispose of the obvious: EGL certificates originating from Israel, Europe, or elsewhere (other than New York and Los Angeles) are for all intents and purposes fraudulent.
As for NY and LA, we believe you can break down EGL certified diamonds into two groups:
GIA I1 Range
For diamonds that would obviously be graded GIA I1, the Rapaport price list gives very low prices for I1 clarity diamonds. This is a significant problem because the GIA I1 clarity grade has a very wide range.
Within that grade, there are stones that just barely missed getting the SI2 grade, and there are stones that are really strong I1s that are in a completely different class than the nice GIA I1s.
From a GIA I1 to an EGL SI2 or SI3
Because of this discrepancy, diamond companies will almost never send their nice I1s to GIA. They will either sell them as loose diamonds, or they will send them to EGL to receive either an SI2 or SI3 clarity grade.
Even though these stones will be sold at a much steeper discount to the Rapaport price than their GIA equivalent, the diamond manufacturer will still make more money this way versus selling the diamond loose or selling the diamond as a GIA I1 with a smaller discount to the I1 Rapaport price.
If you’re considering an EGL SI2 or SI3, you need to realize that while most companies don’t certify GIA I1s, some do. And those are by definition a better value for you.
The Choice Between GIA I1 and EGL SI2
The companies who do use EGL for these stones are only doing it to make more money on the same stone. So you have a choice. You’re buying one stone. Would you rather that stone have a GIA certificate that says I1 and the price will be less, or would you rather that stone have an EGL certificate that says SI2 and the price will be more?
Remember, it’s the same stone! The answer is obvious (choose the GIA stone!).
Furthermore, the majority of stones at this quality level aren’t eye clean anyway – so most definitely even if you’re considering buying an EGL SI2 or SI3, you can never do this blind.
You must be able to inspect the stone first. The odds of a stone like this being truly eye clean are remote at best.
GIA SI2 Range
For diamonds that would receive SI2 or better from GIA, the main approach for the vast majority of diamond manufacturers is that they first send their productions to GIA.
When they get the results back from the lab, they review their stones one by one to see how they can squeeze out more profit. Recheck a stone here. Recut a stone there (either to improve Clarity or Cut).
Deciding on an Upgrade from EGL
Another popular way to squeeze every bit of juice out of a diamond production is to review the results from GIA and decide which stones have the potential to receive enough of an upgrade from EGL to offset the higher discounts to the list prices and therefore make more money.
There’s little risk in doing this, since EGL offers pre-certs—meaning the company sending the diamond for inspection only pays the full amount if they OK the results (as opposed to the GIA where you have to pay the full amount regardless of the results).
Do you know what the company will do if the diamond gets enough of an upgrade to make the stone worth more as an EGL certified stone? They simply throw away the GIA cert and pretend it never existed.
Imagine that the same stone is certified by GIA as I SI2 and certified by EGL as G SI1. Would you rather pay more for the stone buying it as an EGL or would you rather pay less buying the stone as a GIA? Again, it’s the same stone!
As you can see, in pretty much every case across the board, the very presence of an EGL cert almost invariably implies that the stone is certified this way to make more money for the vendor versus keeping the stone’s original GIA certificate.
Less is More: Our Buying Recommendation
You’re better off searching for a GIA certified stone that’s two or three color grades lower and one or two clarity grades lower and most importantly, cheaper.
The bottom line is: don’t buy an EGL certified diamond. No matter how “cheap” it seems to you compared to GIA certified diamonds, it’s all a game.
Any EGL certified stone in the market is, by definition, more expensive than itself as certified by the GIA.
Advantages to EGL Certification
Disadvantages to EGL Certification
The EGL offers further services beyond diamond reports, including reports for:
Consumers may also order laser inscription or engraving from EGL.
For further questions and assistance, contact one of our experts.
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