Summary in a few lines:
Triple Excellent, GIA XXX, Triple X (and others) are all terms used to describe specific set of characteristics a diamond has.
These terms are NEVER acknowledged by GIA, and neither official terms used by GIA to “label” a diamond with this grade.
What do they mean? In simple English, a Triple Excellent diamond is the diamond that has Excellent Cut, Excellent Polish, and Excellent Symmetry.
Does this guarantee a great diamond? No
Is this term used sometimes to “inflate” the price of a diamond? Of course.
Is getting Triple XXX diamonds needed to make sure you’re buying a great diamond? YES.
Confusing a little?
Let’s dive in & see why.
Here are two images for diamonds listed on Blue Nile, the first one is a GIA Triple Excellent, you can see it in 360 here, and the second one is not a Triple Excellent, although it has excellent cut & polish, but has v. good symmetry, here is it in 360 as well.
We doubt that -under any circumstances- you will ever be getting the one on the left!
In short, the term “GIA Triple Excellent” is sort of a marketing stunt used by salespeople to either:
- Sell some not-so-worthy diamonds at pretty high prices
- Increase the price of a good diamond by “labeling” it as GIA XXX
GIA has absolutely no mention of any “Triple Excellent” or “GIA XXX” diamonds for that matter, on their site & educational posts, or diamond grading reports they issue.
Even on reputable sites like James Allen or Blue Nile, they offer you all filtering options when browsing through hundreds of thousands of diamonds as we saw in James Allen vs. Blue Nile comparison, like 4Cs, price, polish, symmetry, table & depth, almost everything, take a look:
Do you see any clue or mention for Triple XXX?
Because they don’t want to participate in the hype & price inflation of this term.
You can hear some definitions like “AGS Triple 000” zero being the best, a term given to diamonds that have grades of zero in color (D), zero in clarity (flawless), and zero in cut (ideal), we explained this in details and where AGS stands from this term in our James Allen True Hearts review.
Before breaking down the term to see what it means exactly and what factors actually make a GIA XXX, it’s important to build some ground knowledge on some basics together! (Diamond 101)
Diamonds Main Characteristics
Characteristic is a term used to define and describe the specifications of diamonds. The main characteristics are the Diamond 4Cs. They consist of:
How well-proportioned is the diamond in terms of symmetry & light reflection.
Diamond cut is considered to be the most important job of artists and workmen who craft the diamond to make it as symmetric as possible, as well as proportional & polished well to reflect the maximum amount of light.
Out of all other factors, diamond cut stands on top of them in order of importance.
Also called Carat Weight, functions as a standard unit of measurement for the weight of diamonds. A carat weight equals 0.20 grams.
With that being said, Carat doesn’t always mean size, a diamond with high carat weight, however, a “good” cut will lose all of its weight in its depth, compared to lesser carat but an “ideal” cut which means a lower carat but “looks” larger.
Diamond color means how “yellowish” is the diamond (If found), color is graded from D as being Colorless, to K as having Faint Color (There are more than this, but this range of grades is the most famous).
This is a predetermined ranking of how internal (and sometimes external) blemishes affect the value of a diamond. There are six significant categories that determine the clarity grade of a diamond:
It’s not really possible to go over all of these in detail here, but, as you can see, we covered almost everything you need here in this website, feel free to browse our Diamond Buying Guide to know where to start.
What are GIA Triple Excellent Diamonds?
When GIA experts assess a diamond, they grade it in almost all of the above-mentioned characteristics; and as we saw, we have a chart for almost all diamond characteristics so you understand where a particular diamond falls among others.
Now, for the term “Triple Excellent”, it means that a particular diamond has 3 Excellent grades:
Excellent on Cut
Excellent on Polish
Yes, it’s that simple, Triple Excellent Diamond means that a diamond has all Excellent on these three, and diamond sellers will brand it as “Triple Excellent diamond” and charge higher prices for such diamonds.
In order to test this theory, we need to understand which are the most important characteristics of diamonds.
We agreed that Cut is the most important factor and this means that this part; the “X” in Cut in the Triple Excellent term is true.
Now, where do Polish and Symmetry come into play (in order of importance) in a gem? And are they considered effective factors in increasing the sparkle and the shine as well?
In probably 90% of cases, when you’re getting an excellent (ideal) cut diamond, you’re already getting excellent grades for polish & symmetry.
Here is a pre-set search on James Allen filtering based on Excellent polish & symmetry, out of 56000 diamonds that have Ideal/Excellent cut grade, 49000 of them have excellent polish & symmetry grades.
Same on Blue Nile, running the exact search resulted in 55800 out of 63000 diamonds.
We’re talking about 85-90% of diamonds here.
In short, GIA XXX diamond is “almost” the standard case when you’re getting an ideal cut, so ALWAYS pay attention to other factors when you hear the term GIA XXX (so they are not trying to hide other lower grades by promoting a Triple Excellent).
Do Triple Excellent Diamonds Guarantee Great Sparkle?
Is this fuss about the “Triple XXX” really reasonable though?
What if the diamond has inclusions that can be seen by the naked eye? Or worse, inclusions in the middle of the table that you must avoid? What about a low-grade color? Strong fluorescence maybe? (And the list goes on…)
This is an image for a diamond with SI2 clarity, but it’s Triple Excellent in terms of Cut, Polish, and Symmetry!
Even if it’s at $3,000 (As the time of writing this, it’s priced at $6,650), would any salesperson have the guts to recommend it to you?
Here is a pre-set search on James Allen for tens of thousands of Triple Excellent diamonds, for sure most of them are great picks, but that shouldn’t be always taken for granted.
Every diamond on earth is unique! Each has its own unmatched characteristics that give it its beauty and brilliance.
Therefore, it’s not technically logical or true to guarantee a great sparkle by confirming only these three characteristics; a diamond’s brilliance relies on many more factors.
Are Triple Excellent Diamonds Worth it?
Yes and No.
Yes when you’re getting a diamond that has all recommended characteristics, like at least an H or G color, an eye-clean clarity grade, doesn’t have strong fluorescence.
No when it has Excellent in Cut, Polish & Symmetry, but fails in other factors, like having a visible inclusions, or lower color grade that you don’t like.
It’s worth mentioning though, if you want a great diamond, look for one (Triple XXX) with high grades characteristics, like Color, Clarity, and others, but not vice versa.
So yes, getting Excellent cut, Excellent Polish, and Excellent Symmetry is a must, but you shouldn’t stop there, continue the filters and make sure you’re buying the right diamond, for the right price.
A lot of Triple Excellent diamonds are really great, but that’s just because they match other great factors, that’s why you should NOT count on this only.
Does GIA Certify Triple Excellent Diamonds?
Again, the term only means that the diamond has these characteristics, and they will be mentioned of course on the GIA certificate of a diamond, but GIA will not “feature” the diamond as Triple Excellent on the report.
Do you see any mention for the Triple Excellent thing? Exactly…
Triple Excellent Diamonds vs Ideal Cut?
It might sound like a weird question, but yes that’s valid, some people get confused when they hear the term Triple Excellent and they believe that they have to either pick it, or an ideal cut diamond.
Honestly, no one to blame here except those who came up with the term itself! They branded it like it’s a new thing or type of diamonds, while we already saw what does it mean.
So, for our question: GIA XXX vs Ideal cut, what to choose?
Once you get an ideal cut, in most cases you’re getting an Excellent polish, as well as Excellent symmetry, which means that you nailed a Triple Excellent diamond by picking an ideal cut one.
How to Guarantee a Great Sparkling Diamond?
Our job doesn’t stop at making a compelling argument with or against the GIA XXX, we have bigger fish to fry here!
To start, you know for a fact that the most important factor in a diamond is the Cut!
Once you secure an ideal cut, you can jump to other Cs, start by Color, then Clarity, and lastly let your budget control the highest Carat you can get.
For Color, to ensure that you’re spending your money on what matters, we recommend getting not higher than H or G Color.
For Clarity, make sure you get an eye-clean diamond. Most SI1 diamonds are eye-clean (for +1 carat, you might need to seek a VS2).
If you’re buying online from vendors like James Allen or Blue Nile, you can see a magnified image of your diamond so you can make sure it’s an eye-clean one; you know with their high-tech cutting-edge imaging technologies!
However, if you’re searching for a very special and luxurious diamond, we recommend you to read our expert review for Whiteflash. We’ve covered in detailed review where Whiteflash stands in the diamond industry and when is the best time to get your gems from their store over someone else.
As for other factors: Polish and Symmetry, for instance, you can easily find Excellent grades featuring them.
P.S. Just pay attention to ALL the above characteristics, then make sure you get these high grades.
Summary: Triple Excellent Diamonds: Buy or Don’t?
As we have mentioned previously, not all the Triple Excellent diamonds are the best option when it comes to a diamond purchasing decision.
Because they represent those grades based on only three characteristics, without taking into consideration any other factor that might affect the diamond’s brilliance and beauty!
Get a Triple XXX only if the diamond has Excellent grades and other important factors; try to see the diamond magnified, or if in a physical store, see the diamond light reflection under different lights to see how it sparkles.
Remember, always spend your money on what matters, if the seller is trying to convince you to get the diamond just because it’s Triple Excellent, that shouldn’t be a good sign.
Still not sure where to buy your diamond?
We always recommend shopping diamonds online and created a Full guide to shop diamonds like a Pro.
Among online retailers, here are our favorite stores (click their logo to visit store):
1) James Allen: Our favorite online store, best diamond imaging technology available today, comes with the largest collection with more than half a million loose diamonds.
3) Whiteflash: Home Of A CUT ABOVE® Super Ideal Diamonds, they stand out from the crowd by offering premium diamonds cuts, tailored to those who love the details, at great prices too.