Diamond Certification Versus Appraisal

By: Jonathan Blocker

Those who are planning the purchase of certified loose diamonds from registered jewelry wholesalers do well to educate themselves on issues related to the diamond market - including diamond appraisal and diamond certification. Although these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they are in fact two different things, both of which are necessary in order to determine the market value of certified loose diamonds.

Certification

This is also known as a 'diamond grading report.' It is used to describe loose diamonds in terms of mass (carat), clarity and color. This report is prepared for jewelry wholesalers, retailers, collectors and investors by geologists who specialize in the sub-field of gemology, or the study and evaluation of precious stones and gems.

All certified loose diamonds are those which are accompanied by such a grading report. This report gives information about the diamond's objective physical characteristics - those which can be measured with scientific methods and tools. Such a certificate will include an evaluation of the gem's clarity and color as well as its symmetry and 'fire,' or light reflecting characteristics. Obviously, a clear diamond without visible flaws (such as a 'cottony' appearance within) is far more valuable than one that contains scratches or internal blemishes.

Rather than receiving a monetary value, certified loose diamonds are evaluated on different scales, which includes the 'SI3 Clarity Grade' and a Color Scale that uses numbers and letters D-Z. The latter describes the gem in terms of hue and saturation, with colorless gems being at the beginning of the scale and those with deep color at the end.

While the diamond market and industry is controlled by a relatively few individuals and corporate entities, most jewelry wholesalers agree that the most reliable certifications are done through either the Gemological Institute of America or the American Gem Society Laboratories.

It is important to understand that such labs cannot certify gems that are mounted. However, a reputable jewelry wholesaler should provide you with a certificate at the time of purchase.

Appraisal

Unlike loose stones, a diamond appraisal can be performed on mounted stones (those placed in settings). Unlike certification, it is less objective, and based on estimations made as a result of what can be seen. There are several different techniques for this, but the main purpose is to determine the diamond's monetary value. Jewelry wholesalers base their selling price primarily on such an appraisal.

The Importance of Independence

It seems obvious that any certification and/or appraisal should be done by and outside, independent agency, but less experienced diamond buyers may not consider that jewelry wholesalers using their own in-house appraisers will have a natural tendency to overvalue their own merchandise. For that reason, it is important to have any diamonds you are considering certified and appraised by an outside third party that is not affiliated with your jewelry wholesaler.

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