EGL is in competition with the market leaders GIA, The Gemological Institute of America, who are a non-profit grading lab. Most buyers of diamonds are likely to be interested in how an EGL certificated diamond compares with one certified by the GIA.
SI3 Graded Diamonds
Clarity is an important aspect of the valuation and purchase of clear diamonds. Visible internal flaws are unpleasant to look at; heavily flawed diamonds sell at a lower price than less flawed examples. Buyers tend to understand that diamonds graded as SI1 or SI2 on the GIA grading scale will have slight inclusions but that they will usually not be easily visible to the naked eye. As a result, SI graded diamonds are seen as being a value point on the grading scale. Diamonds graded as Included (I) are often of such low quality that jewellers do not offer such diamonds.
EGL made a change to their clarity grades by adding a new grade SI3. This new grade, in effect, replaces the industry-standard I1 grade. The result is to enable jewellers to sell low-quality, visibly flawed diamonds at a price similar to 'proper' SI grade stones.
Should You Buy Diamonds Graded By EGL?
EGL diamond grading reports offer benefits to diamond sellers and jewellers, whereas GIA reports are transparent and even-handed. For buyers of diamonds, those stoneswhich have been graded by GIA will offer better value. There is no difference in quality between diamonds graded by the two organisations, both organisations see all types and quality of diamonds.
If you see a diamond graded as SI3, then the certification will be from EGL. The diamond will be heavily flawed and, unless such a diamond is acceptable to you and the price is right, you should avoid it.
The issue for buyers is that if EGL inflates the grading in comparison to GIA, then the priceof the stone in the jewellers will be higher than the price of an equivalent quality of stone with a GIA certificate. Naïve buyers, unaware of grading inflation will compare a GIA or EGL certified diamond of the same specification. They usually see that the GIA graded diamond costs more than the stone graded by the EGL. The perception is that the EGL diamond is cheaper. The truth is that the EGL stone, even though it has the same grade as the GIA one, is of inferior quality.
Buying a diamond with an EGL certification is, generally speaking, a bad idea. Only choose an EGL certificated diamond if you know that the price you are being asked to pay is the same as, or less than, the cost of an equivalent quality GIA diamond. For most buyers, making such a determination is not possible because buyers do not have the skills to carry out their own grading.