Grading is where Safeguard's core expertise lies.

Careful and codified handling

We are committed to treating your cards as if they were museum pieces, which is why we always ensure that our handling protocol is scrupulously implemented and each step is rigorously codified. To ensure that the condition of your cards is never altered, our team works meticulously, always wearing neutral gloves.

The determination of the final gradeby the 4 sub-grades

If you have selected the Sub-Grades option, your card will be assigned four sub-grades to determine the final grade, calculated by an algorithm that mainly takes into account the lowest sub-score and its number of occurrences. Centering has a lower coefficient than the other 3 sub-scores.

Some examples:

9 / 9.5 / 7 / 8 : 8 Near Mint
8 / 8 / 8 / 5 : 6 Very Good
10 / 10 / 9.5 / 9.5 : 10 Gem Mint

A double grading with arbitration

Each card is successively analyzed independently by two graders. An expert specialized on the TCG concerned will decide between the two graders in case of disagreement on the attribution of one or several sub-scores.

In order to maintain our regularity and to encourage the development of their skills, our graders are regularly put to the test with internal test orders and benefit from a constant work of information monitoring to enrich their knowledge.

Reliable, transparent and methodical state-of-the-art expertise

The first part of the scoring process is to confirm the correct identification of your card, then to verify its authenticity, and finally to ensure that it has not undergone any alteration or restoration process.

The second part of the grading process is to evaluate the condition of your card. We take the time necessary to accurately and consistently reflect the condition of your card in our grading scale.

During each intermediate step, our graders can rely on high-level analysis equipment: powerful lighting systems, high-powered magnification equipment, high-precision dimensional measurement tools, etc.


Before anything else, our rating team will make sure to identify your map as accurately as possible, especially according to :

  • its language or geographical version (is it the traditional Chinese version or the simplified Chinese version?)
  • its print run (is it an undistinguished reprint, is it a card from the 8th print of the Base Set?)
  • its variation (is it a glossy card, is it the Secret Rare or Ultimate Rare version?)
  • very specific features (is it the Grey or Ghost version of the 1st Edition stamp?).

Authenticity check

Our experts will then determine if your card is authentic. If there is any doubt, they will conduct a thorough examination by analyzing numerous details using a variety of state-of-the-art techniques:

High precision weighing (r: 0.001 g)
Thickness control (r: 0.01 mm)
Optical microscopy with dimensional measurement (X20 – X200)
Multispectral imaging

Detection of tampering

It is now necessary to verify that your card does not show any trace of alteration, especially tone on tone. To do this, we mainly use the technique of lighting under ultraviolet radiation (UV-A1 and UVC).

This process will locate the areas of heterogeneity of the surface thanks to the variations of fluorescence intensity and will reveal marks of retouching or restoration.


The centering is calculated by computer from an image processing where the width of the edges of the front and back will be measured with an accuracy level of 0.01 mm and then the sub-score will be determined by an algorithm.

Our grading team also masters the measurement of centering on fully borderless sides.

The surface

During the surface examination, our experts work under different types of professional lighting to look for print lines, factory scratches, rubbing marks, micro-scratches, dullness, deposits, scratches, stains, clouding, dents, wrinkles, etc.

Our analysis lamps have a color temperature between 5600°K and 6000°K and a color rendering index of 96 out of 100 to limit as much as possible any anomaly of metamerism (abnormal variation of the perception of a hue).

Are thus used to reveal the most pernicious surface defects:

A diffuse white light combined with a monocular magnifying glass to assess the conservation of colors
A grazing white light (tangential) highlighting the roughness of the surface
A powerful and directive perpendicular white light improving the readability of the relief of the card.

Corners, edges and slices

Finally, the study focuses on the shape and the precision of the cut of the corners and edges which must be harmonious and regular, but also on their state of conservation by looking for white spots, possible discolorations, flaking, fraying marks, notches, etc.

After verification of the conformity of the edges during the authentication stage, it is this time their integrity and their color that are checked in more detail to appreciate their level of wear.

A comprehensive digital grading certificate

For a visual presentation of all the grades that can be awarded, we invite you to consult our Grading Scale page or our FAQ for various questions on this topic.

This is why we are able to guarantee you a professional, fair and meticulous evaluation, applied with a high level of regularity.

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