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HRD vs IGI Certifications: What to Know

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HRD vs IGI

Common advice for buying a diamond is to focus on the four Cs of carat, cut, clarity, and color. After all, these are the aspects that most affect a diamond’s value.

But there’s a fifth factor to consider, which is its certification.

A diamond certificate validates its qualities so you know what to expect in terms of its appearance and performance.

Two of the most popular organizations that certify diamonds are Hoge Raad voor Diamant (HRD, which is translated “High Diamond Council”) and the International Gemological Institute (IGI).

The main differences between HRD and the IGI is that HRD is known as a diamond authority in Europe, but its standards are often less strict than other certifying institutions. The IGI frequently partners with large jewelry retailers and is a leader in grading lab-grown diamonds.

We’ll compare HRD versus IGI diamond certifications, including an overview of each organization, how their certificates are different and affect prices, and whether you should buy an HRD or IGI diamond.

What are HRD Diamond Certifications?

HRD is located in Antwerp, Belgium, which is near where many diamonds are sourced. The organization was founded in the 1970s and provides a number of services for the industry.

These include:

  • Jewelry reports
  • Diamond price lists
  • Education and online courses
  • Screening and detection for HPTP, CVD and natural diamonds

HRD Jewelry Report

They’re most known for grading reports, which certify the quality of diamonds across the most important characteristics.

The examination process follows a similar procedure as their competitors, such as GCAL and the GIA.

Their gemologists determine its weight and check if it’s natural or lab-grown. They’ll measure the diamond’s diameter and height to assess its proportions.

Next, HRD analyzes fluorescence, color, cut, and clarity.

These grades are compiled into a report, which shows the buyer everything they need to know about the diamond. It doesn’t place a dollar value on the gem, but these measurements are how retailers decide its price.

Here’s the HRD report for this round-cut diamond.

HRD Diamond Report

On the left side, you’ll find the color and clarity scale. Color grades range from D-Z. Clarity grades begin at LC (loupe-clean) and move toward P3 (Included).

Its cut grade is divided into three sections: proportions, polish, and symmetry.

In the middle of the HRD report, there’s more technical information about the diamond, such as its:

HRD grades more than just natural diamonds. They also provide reports for treated, colored, and lab-grown diamonds.

What are IGI Diamond Certifications?

The IGI boasts itself as the largest organization in the world for certifying the quality of gemstones. It operates 20 labs around the world, which grade finished jewelry and lab-grown and natural diamonds.

Beyond certifying diamonds, they train gemologists in their 14 schools, provide online learning opportunities, and present trade shows in multiple countries.

Similar to HRD, their labs are located in areas where many of the world’s diamonds are sourced. You can also verify a diamond report on their website to ensure the retailer actually had it graded by the IGI.

The IGI assesses diamonds through a similar method as HRD.

IGI Diamond Grading

They’ll determine if it’s natural, lab-grown, or a diamond simulant. If it has any treatments, such as clarity-enhancement to remove inclusions, the gemologist will add a note on the report.

It’s then examined across the four Cs.

As an example, I’ll use the IGI report for this diamond.

IGI Report for Round-Cut Diamond

The format is similar to HRD’s certification.

On the left, there’s the essential information about its quality, such as:

  • Shape and cutting style
  • Measurements
  • Polish and symmetry
  • Fluorescence

And similar to an HRD report, IGI includes a clarity characteristics plot, which shows the locations of inclusions.

You can understand its value and how much you should pay based on the information on the diamond certificate.

What are the Differences Between HRD and the IGI?

When you’re searching for a diamond at some of the most popular retailers, they’ll often sell HRD and IGI diamonds. 

Both certifications serve the same purpose, but you should understand the differences between them.

Here are four distinctions between HRD and the IGI.

IGI Has a Strong Reputation for Grading Lab-Created Diamonds

One of the first steps in choosing the right gem for you is knowing whether you want a natural or lab-created diamond. 

There are pros and cons of lab-grown diamonds, and when you’re exploring the options, you’ll often find it’s graded by the IGI. In fact, they’re known to grade more of these diamonds than any other organization.

For example, renowned vendors like James Allen sell synthetic diamonds certified by the IGI.

I filtered their lab-created diamonds by the organization that graded them.

There are more than 53,986 IGI-graded diamonds available.

Lab-Grown Diamonds from James Allen Graded by IGI

I recommend choosing lab-created diamonds graded by the IGI. You’ll have peace of mind about its quality, knowing it’s graded by the leader in these certifications.

The GIA is still the gold-standard for natural diamond reports, but you won’t find them for lab-grown diamonds from as many vendors compared to the IGI.

When choosing a synthetic diamond, it’s expected the selection will feature mostly ones assessed by the IGI.

HRD May be Less Strict Compared to the IGI

It’s important your diamond is graded by a reliable organization.

For example, if one institution claims its clarity is VVS2 and another reports VS1, the vendor can command a higher price for the VVS2 grade, even though it’s the same diamond.

While a stricter grading system can benefit the buyer, sellers often factor the certificate into the price. That’s why you’ll often pay more for a GIA diamond than ones from other labs.

HRD is known to be less strict in their grading standards compared to IGI.

One source that’s often cited is a Rapaport study that states, “No two diamonds are alike and it seems neither are their grading certificates.”

The company sent 10 diamonds to some of the most popular labs around the world, including the IGI and HRD.

They compared how the labs graded:

  • Color
  • Clarity
  • Cut
  • Polish
  • Symmetry
  • Fluorescence

They totaled up the differences and ranked the labs from most to least strict.

The GIA landed at the top, right ahead of IGI. In fourth place was HRD.

Rapaport Study of Diamond Certificates

This demonstrated how the specific grades on an HRD report may be higher than the IGI for the same diamond.

For example, HRD may decide a diamond has an E color grade, while IGI could label it F.

It’s not that HRD’s grades aren’t accurate. Qualities like cut, color, and clarity are subjective. 

The process often involves comparing the diamond to a set of ideals and determining which one it matches.

But as a buyer, it’s worth understanding why grades and prices may differ when identical diamonds are certified by different labs.

HRD Certifications are Popular in Europe

If you’re buying a diamond in Europe, you’re more likely to find ones graded by HRD. 

Its proximity to diamond mines has helped establish them as the go-to lab in these regions, which is why some consider them Europe’s equivalent to the GIA.

If you want to certify the authenticity of a diamond, an HRD report is acceptable in Europe, the United States, and everywhere else.

But the lab doesn’t have the same reputation in the United States in regard to the specifics of its report. 

Many US-based retailers sell HRD diamonds, but their number is often far exceeded by the GIA and American Gem Society.

IGI diamonds are more common with large retailers in the US and Canada. They initially gained popularity by serving jewelry chains like Zales and Kay

Zales and Kay IGI Diamonds

The IGI offered low prices and fast turnaround times, so jewelers could more quickly sell their inventory.

Labs like the GIA and AGS are often slower to grade and charge higher prices. This is a result of their strong reputations for reliability and strict standards, so jewelers can charge premiums for them.

IGI Certificates Include a Proportions Diagram

When comparing HRD versus IGI diamond certificates, you’ll find they’re almost identical.

But there is one distinction to note.

IGI certificates include a proportions diagram that visualizes the diamond’s width, depth, and girdle thickness.

As an example, let’s examine the IGI report for this one-carat diamond.

Proportions Diagram on IGI Report

It provides helpful information about the diamond’s measurements, which impact its cut quality.

This is one of the most important factors in its light performance. A poor cut can result in a dull diamond.

The proportions diagram on the IGI report shows a table percentage of 59 percent. This is slightly higher than ideal, and the same is true of its depth percentage.

The medium to slightly thick girdle is optimal.

This information is included on an HRD certificate in the middle panel, but there’s no diagram to help you visualize where these measurements are pointing.

Take this 1.04-carat diamond as an example.

It’s included in the “Technical Information” section.

Proportions on HRD Report

But when you’re new to buying a diamond, it’s helpful to have the diagram on the IGI report.

How do HRD and IGI Certifications Affect the Price of a Diamond?

You should buy a diamond graded by a regarded institution because the certificate affects its price. In general, the higher a diamond is graded along the four Cs, the more it costs.

So in the Rapaport study above, the HRD grades could cause the same diamonds to sell for a higher price than if they had sold under the IGI certificate.

As another example, I examined prices for 134 diamonds from James Allen with the following qualities:

  • Carat weight: 1.00
  • Clarity: VS1
  • Color: F
  • Cut: Very good

The average price was $8,217.

I assessed prices for 50 diamonds that had the same carat weight and cut but E color and VVS2 clarity grades.

Prices of Diamonds from James Allen

The average price was $9,022.

That’s a 10 percent increase for a one grade improvement on the color and clarity scale.

This demonstrates the importance of a reliable certificate.

If one organization grades it differently than another, the retailer will often list it with the more expensive price.

That’s why in many cases, the strict grading criteria from the GIA and AGS are beneficial for the buyer compared to the IGI and HRD, who may grade the diamond as higher quality.

But in other cases, the differences are already factored into the price.

Should You Buy an HRD or IGI Diamond?

Many diamond retailers sell diamonds certified by HRD or the IGI. They are two popular names in the industry known for detailed assessments of gems.

In many cases, they’re grades are identical to the GIA, but it’s worth carefully reviewing how the report aligns with its quality.

Our recommendation is to choose a diamond certified by the GIA and AGS because they’re considered the most reliable and consistent in their grading. In fact, the largest underwriter of jewelry agrees with this assessment, calling them “the most respected labs.”

If you’re searching for a lab-created diamond, a report from the IGI is sufficient.

Whether you choose an HRD or IGI diamond, or one graded by another lab, it’s important you know what to expect from your diamond.

Devon Tyler

Devon Tyler

Devon Tyler is the founder of TeachJewelry.com.

He earned an Applied Jewelry Professional Diploma from the Gemological Institute of America and now brings you essential information about diamonds, settings, and more.

Devon has consulted with leading jewelry brands, and his work has been cited in Diamond Nexus and other industry publications.

He's also a member of the International Gem Society.

Devon enjoys discussing jewelry with readers, so contact him with any questions at tyler.devon@teachjewelry.com.

Learn More About Devon