Featured post

Welcome to NDRDiamond – Blog!

Welcome to the NDRDiamond Blog.

The postings on this sight are intended for retail jewelers who I hope will read my “thoughts” and “concerns” about diamonds, diamond grading reports, internet diamond sales and other random subjects affecting the jewelry trade.  It is my hope that you may find some of these posts to be useful when dealing with retail consumers and that you might share some of these blog posts with such consumers.

If you happen to be a retail consumer who has somehow come across this Blog, I welcome you to read my posts in the hope that you will gain some knowledge and advice that you will find interesting and helpful.  To these readers, the best advice that I have is that you purchase a diamond or diamond jewelry from a trusted “bricks and mortar” jeweler.  As a third generation jewelry professional, this advice is given based on my understanding that a diamond or diamond jewelry is something that must be seen and appreciated by human eyes much like a painting or other works of art – for it is not possible to visualize  a diamond based on a diamond grading report.

Whether you are a jewelry retailer or consumer, I welcome you and hope that you will find some useful information on the posts that follow. Please feel free to comment as you feel appropriate.

 

Neil D. Reiff

 

Featured post

The most important thing in buying a diamond engagement ring -TRUST.

In everything in life, whether it be a visit to the Doctor or Dentist, or a significant purchase of one thing or another, we often face the dilemma of whether the service provider or seller is looking out for himself/herself or for the patient/customer in making their recommendation(s) for the fulfillment of the patient’s/customer’s needs or desires. This is only natural in that the seller is most often concerned with getting well compensated for his/her services while the patient/consumer is motivated by the quality of the provided service or product and receiving such service/product at a “fair” price.

I recently had an experience with regard to a needed plaster repair in my beautiful older home. The fast talking great salesman who came to me through an internet referral service quoted me $1750.00 for a job that I knew he was not going to correctly repair – since he really had no idea how to do it right! In the end, a trustworthy old timer with lots of experience in plaster repair did a remarkable job on the repair for the cost of $360.00!!

So . . . you ask, “What the heck does any of this have to do with the purchase of a diamond engagement ring?” The answer should be somewhat obvious. You need to deal with someone who has the required experience and understanding of your needs as well as of the industry and the product – in this case, a diamond.

You also need to navigate through the minefield of fast talking salespeople (Beware of the Internet!!) and find someone who you feel comfortable dealing with in terms of their personality and their knowledge and their reputation for trust and integrity. Granted, this is not an easy task!

But there are many jewelry professionals whose mission in their work is to provide you with the necessary information, and more importantly, the right advice – to assist you in making the right educated choice in your selection of the “right” engagement diamond and/or diamond engagement ring. The most important thing to remember during this process is that you should not be looking for the best price. Price is not the same as “value” – and those who think otherwise will almost always buy an inferior (read: ugly!) diamond!

When you find such a person, I urge you to give him the level of respect and trust that he deserves. In the end, that trust and respect will serve you well.

The end result should be an experience that is mutually beneficial to both sides of the transaction. The buyer will be grateful for the knowledge and advice that has been obtained. The seller, or jewelry professional, will be happy that he has provided you with something that will be worn and appreciated and admired for many years to come!!

* * * * * * * * * * *

This above comment – “the “right” diamond engagement ring” – is even more important than one might initially think!!

A diamond is just a diamond – beautiful as it may be. A diamond engagement ring, on the other hand, is a very significant piece of jewelry that is, in addition to symbolizing that the wearer is “engaged” or “married”, a very personal statement of one’s style and/or taste and personality. It is a work of jewelry art that will be worn for many years and will be appreciated by the wearer as well as many friends, family members, associates and many others.

Just as in the process of purchasing a loose diamond, it is essential to deal with a knowledgeable and experienced and trustworthy jewelry professional in turning a diamond into the finished engagement ring.

Some diamond shapes or qualities work well in certain styles of settings and not so much in other styles. While you may have a general idea of where you would like to end up in terms of an engagement ring style, I urge you – as in the diamond buying process itself – to find that trusted jewelry professional whose knowledge of materials, diamond shapes and qualities and cuts, and sense of style will assist you in ending up with something that will be beautiful to you as well as to everyone else!

Find someone who you can and will trust. Sometimes it takes a leap of faith. But it is the most aspect of getting to where you want to be. This is true regardless of the fact that you may be purchasing a $1,000.00 or a $50,000.00 diamond ring!!

FOLLOW UP . . .

In the course of my daily business I am sometimes the buyer of diamonds from one who has previously purchased a diamond.

Today I was presented with such a diamond. The owner/seller had acquired this diamond from a retailer in Philadelphia where my office is located. The owner/seller provided me with the opportunity to look at the diamond as well as the grading report that they were given at the time of purchase.

According to the paperwork, I assume that the purchaser thought that they were getting a good deal at the time of purchase. Upon looking at the diamond and grading it to “fair” and “proper” standards, the diamond was actually six grades lower than what the buyer/seller/owner thought she had acquired. The diamond was not a GIA certified diamond and was graded by a “fraudulent” grading lab.  The diamond was, in fact, worth only 32% of the value of what they thought they were buying!!

This true story is stated here just to reiterate the subject matter of the above post. Obviously, as should be learned from this brief story, there are those in the world who think that low price is all that matters – and who later ind out that they have been cheated.  More importantly, this brief story should reiterate the necessity of dealing with someone with a reputation for trust and integrity.

Channel 6 ABC in Philadelphia discusses Diamond Prices.

Channel 6 ABC in Philadelphia discusses Diamond Prices.

It seems to be a time honored tradition that TV news does a story about diamonds every year or two before Valentine’s Day.

Nydia Han, the Consumer Reporter for 6ABC, did such a segment yesterday. In this story, she discussed diamond pricing among various diamond retail stores in the Philadelphia area.

Though I agree with her conclusion that consumers receive much better “value” in independent jewelry stores as opposed to mall type jewelry stores (e.g., Zale’s, Jared or Kay), I found this entire segment to be fallacious and misguided on many levels.

I have been involved in the wholesale diamond business for more than 40 years. In addition, my business dates back nearly 90 years. I understand diamonds as much as anyone in the world. I have been published in both US and international trade publications.

The Channel 6/ABC report on diamonds focused on retail diamond prices. There is perhaps no other product in the world like a diamond. A diamond is a unique and beautiful natural creation that is valued for its intrinsic beauty. No two diamonds are exactly alike. To base the news story on the “best” price for a diamond entirely ignores the concept of “value” which is a measure of quality in reference to its price.

In my wholesale business I buy and sell many diamonds. I look at many thousands of diamonds a year. I choose to reject approximately 98% of the diamonds that I evaluate because they fail to me the criteria that I have adopted in determining the beauty and value standards that I adhere to.

The 6 ABC diamond segments discussed the 4Cs of a diamond. The 4Cs refer to Cut, Carat (size), Color and Clarity. What the report failed to acknowledge is that within the universe of diamonds that may be similar with regard to the 4Cs, one diamond may be valued at more than 100% more than another.

In my wholesale business, I regularly discard cheap low price diamonds when selecting inventory. Though the price is low, these diamonds are not beautiful and, in my professional opinion, not worthy of the qualities that make a diamond valued. It is my professional duty to provide the retail jeweler/retail consumer not with the “best” or “lowest” price but to provide a beautiful diamond that will be admired and cherished and valued when it is worn in a ring or other jewelry for a lifetime.

The Channel 6/ ABC report was insufficiently researched, erroneous and misleading to the public.   The most important advice that I can give the retail diamond consumer is to avoid buying the “cheapest” or “best” price diamonds.   Buying a diamond for its low price fails to take into consideration the concept of beauty and value. Most importantly, the consumer must understand that a diamond is supposed to be about something that is spectacular and beautiful.

Neil Reiff

Sea Shells and Diamonds

ConchShell

As I was packing up my house recently, preparing to move, my daughter came across a beautiful Conch shell that she found on the beach in Captiva, Florida when she was young. Captiva is known for its beautiful shells.

She was admiring her beautiful shell when it occurred to me that finding a beautiful sea shell in a place that is known for its shells is much like finding a beautiful diamond. There are many thousands of them – BUT only a very few that are truly special.

In the world of diamonds, there are thousands of diamonds available on the Internet.  If there is one thing that I know after a lifetime of 40+ years in the wholesale diamond business, it is this: Finding a beautiful diamond is much harder than finding a beautiful Conch shell!

5.00CusionHVS2small

Recently I was evaluating the diamonds that I purchase for my “wholesale diamond stock”. I realized that for every thousand diamonds that I look at –  99% of which are certified by the GIA (Gemological Institute of America),  –  there are perhaps 20 that I purchase.

It is not a question of what the GIA report might say in terms f the diamond quality. It is a question of finding that rare diamond that you just look at and say, “WOW!’

A “WOW!” diamond is something that is truly amazing. You just want to look at it because its facets and its scintillation draw you in.  It is a work of nature and a very talented diamond cutter. It is one of the most spectacular things in the world. It is something incredibly beautiful.

It is very rare – even in a world filled with databases of many thousands of diamonds.

So, you might ask, “What is my point?”  In the sea of many thousands of diamonds (Internet diamond databases), one must understand that there are diamonds that are truly exceptional and the other 99%. Buying a diamond from an internet database – particularly the lowest priced diamond – is cheating yourself of the beauty of what an engagement diamonds supposed to be.

Maybe you think that an engagement diamond is just something that you “have to do” because it is an “expected” part of the engagement process.  This may be true to some extent. But it is something that will look at every day for many years. It should also be an investment in something that is truly spectacular.

 

 

 

Diamonds: Quality vs. Price – The 50% question??

Today, more than ever before, there is a significant difference in diamond pricing between GIA graded diamonds of similar GIA grades. Within the diamond trade, this is often referred to as the difference between a “good” GIA report and a “bad” GIA report. Though two diamonds may be graded as “H/SI1”, one may be an exceptionally beautiful diamond and the other may contain a big black carbon inclusion located in the center of the table.

I evaluate several hundred diamonds with GIA grading reports every week. Some are priced at 45%, and 50% discounts.  On the other hand, the “nicer” diamonds are priced at 20% – 30% discounts. On a 1.00 carat Round diamond, GIA H/SI1, the difference in actual dollars is $4875.00 (wholesale) for the nice diamond as opposed to $3250.00 (wholesale) for the “cheaper” diamond. Quite simply, the nicer diamond is 50% more expensive than the other.

These are diamonds with the same GIA grade with a 50% pricing differential!!

This pricing differential among diamonds of the same GIA grade is even more extreme when dealing with fancy shape diamonds – Emerald Cut, Cushion Cut, Ovals, Radiant Cut and others. Some fancy shapes may trade at discounts of 50% to 60% or more. Other well-made fancy shapes may trade at a discount of 20% or less. In the case of a beautiful Oval or an ugly Oval of the same GIA grade, the difference in actual dollars can be significantly more than 50%!

I recently  viewed a parcel of 1.00 carat round diamonds costing $600.00 (wholesale) per carat. On the other hand, a 1.00 carat Round D/Flawless diamond trades for $17,000.00 (wholesale). In this instance, one 1.00 carat Round diamond is 2800% more expensive than another!! Obviously, the $600.00 1.00 carat diamond is 1000% ugly junk. It has no beauty other than a “cheap” price which may be beautiful to someone. The 1.00 carat D / Flawless diamond is something that is spectacular – a magnificent work of nature!

As a wholesale diamond dealer, I, as well as the diamond industry as a whole, am faced with a dilemma. We are living in an internet world where everything is being reduced to the lowest common denominator – that of price. There are many who only understand “price” and do not understand “value”. The Internet is wonderful for these buyers who care nothing about the beauty of a diamond..

On the other hand, as a professional within our industry, it is my belief that it should be our mission to provide expertise and knowledge – and, most importantly, to assist a fine jewelry buyer in purchasing a beautiful diamond.

I understand that a D / Flawless diamond is extraordinarily  expensive – and much finer than what a typical consumer should purchase. I also know that price point diamonds are nothing more than price-point garbage that have no real beauty or value.

There are many beautiful diamonds that fall within the spectrum in between low price garbage and exceptionally fine.

A reputable diamond merchant and/or a fine jeweler understands this. His mission should be to guide a prospective buyer to understanding and appreciateing the value of a beautiful diamond or fine diamond jewelry. It should also be his purpose to assist a prospective buyer in acquiring something that will always be valued and appreciated for its beauty and magnificence.

I have a quotation on my wall above my desk in my office that says it all:

LettingYourCustomersQuote

 

 

Buying a GIA Fancy Shape Diamond – BUYER BEWARE.

BUYING A GIA FANCY SHAPE DIAMOND – BUYER BEWARE.

Buying a Fancy Shape diamond – the term used for an Oval, Cushion Cut, Emerald Cut, Princess Cut, and all other non-Round diamond shapes – based solely on the GIA grading report is not well-advised.   Though there is much information contained within any grading report, none of this information conveys any clues as to what any particular fancy shape diamond looks like.

Today I came across two diamonds of similar GIA specifications – the same carat weight, same GIA color grade, and the same GIA clarity grade.

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. So . . here it is in pictures.

aa3.06 Ivs2 CUSHION

This is a actual un-retouched photo of a 3.02 Carat Cushion Cut diamond, GIA “I” color, GIA “VS2″ clarity.

aa3.02Cushion IVS2

This is an actual un-retouched photo of a 3.06 Carat Cushion Cut diamond, GIA “I” color, GIA “VS2″ clarity.

As you can see, a picture is also worth thousands of dollars! That is the difference between buying something that is beautiful and wasting money on something that is not pretty at all.

In the photos one can easily see that one diamond is beautiful. It is my opinion that the diamond pictured in the above photo is ugly! Live and in person, I assure you that the difference is even more apparent.

From looking at the two certificates, other than the fact that one diamond is more square and the other more rectangular (which has nothing to do with the issue at hand), one would never see the difference in beauty between these two diamonds simply by viewing the GIA certificate.

The simple truth is that one is just a beautiful diamond. The other is not. This is not determinable by looking at the certtificate.

To be honest with the reader, the diamond in the above photo is priced 5% less than the diamond in the lower photo. In my opinion, the nicer diamond is worth a 1000% more than the other.

Some might think that saving 5% on a diamond is important. But when one diamond is 1000% more beautiful than another, think about this . . .

What diamond do you want to look at for the rest of your life?

Why pay more for the same diamond?

Why pay more for the same diamond?

If you have read any of my previous posts you will note a theme that runs through many of my blog posts. This recurring theme is that you should avoid the lowest price diamonds.  These diamonds are cheaper in price because they are usually worth less than the more expensive diamond. This is true despite the fact that – ON PAPER – they may seem to be the same GIA grade!

My wife and I recently purchased a new home. In the development in which the home is located there were six homes that we looked at. Each of the homes was built by the same builder at the same time. Each were similar in terms of their square footage.  Some had better lot locations than others.

The homes varied in the ‘sales price per square foot”.  The prices ranged from a bit less than $140.00 per square foot to a bit more than $180.00 per square foot.

Which home did we purchase?  The one for more than $180.00!!  And it was on one of the least valuable lots!

No. I am not wealthy enough that I do not care about the price.  I certainly do care.

Quite simply, despite the fact that each of the houses can be measured in “square footage”, the house we purchased was nicer.  It had a better feel. It had better finishes. It had a “special” character that the others did not have – for US!

So you ask – What is the point of this particular blog post?

As I have said repeatedly throughout my years in the diamond business, the specifications that are on paper tell only a part of the overall picture. The sure footage of a house  – on paper – is similar to the GIA designation of a color and a clarity. To some, it tells everything they think they need to know.  To others, they understand that things cannot be simplified down to numbers or letters – and the object, whether it be a house or a diamond or a beautiful woman or almost anything in life, must be seen with one’s eyes in order to determine what it truly looks like.

I could have bought the bargain house for 30% less money for the same square footage.  And, believe me, the difference in the overall amount of money is substantial.

But each time that I drive up to my house and each time that I walk into it – I will be home in the house that I truly will love and enjoy.

The bottom line is this.  If you go through life only concerning yourself with “lowest” price, you may be cheating yourself out of pleasure and enjoyment!

Lowest price – GIA certified diamonds.

Lowest Price – GIA Diamonds.

Many internet shoppers are under the mistaken belief that buying a GIA certified diamond on the internet is similar to purchasing a flat screen TV. Simple,  You just find the model number that you want. Then you go to the internet and you buy it for less.

In the case of a diamond, one might figure out the size, the shape and the GIA parameters that they want.  Let’s say in this case, a 2.00 carat round diamond, GIA “H” color, “SI1” clarity.  Simple. We go to the internet and buy it at the lowest price.

Stop right there.

A diamond is not a flat screen TV.  The GIA diamond certification report is not the same as a model number.  The specifications of a TV are identical.  There are thousands if not millions of the same TV made to factory specifications.  Diamonds are different.  A diamond is a creation of nature.  Each one is unique.  A GIA grading report attempts to describe a diamond like I may attempt to describe a beautiful woman.  It is very hard to do without seeing the woman – or the diamond.

Pictured below are six diamonds listed for sale on a leading internet diamond site. Each of the six diamonds weighs approximately 2.00 carats (Actual weights range from 2.01 to 2.09 carats).  Each of the diamonds is graded by GIA as “H” color, “SI1” clarity.  The prices for these diamonds ranges from $13,247.00 to $26,131.00.  YES!  One diamond is 50% “cheaper” than another.  Inversely, one diamond is 100% more than the other!

And you are on the internet in search of the best price.   Or is it the lowest price?  Best price for what?  Lowest price for what?

As a diamond merchant with more than 40 years of experience  (and two generations before me!),  I understand what a diamond is.  It is about something beautiful.  Beauty is about the brilliance and sparkle and scintillation.  Low price is about a price point.

In recent years there has been a divergence within the diamond industry – sort of a “fork in the road”.  There are many diamond companies that are marketing diamonds specifically for the internet. The diamonds that they sell via the internet are inferior to those that are sold in the traditional manner – to be sold via retail jewelry stores.  It is the difference between the beautiful GIA H/SI1 diamond and that of the diamond that is marketed solely based on “price-point” for the internet buyer who believes he has figured out the world.

The difference is, in the “old” days, people looked at diamonds in a jewelry store with their eyes and a jewelers magnifying loupe.  They were truly buying a diamond and not just a diamond grading report!.

Take a look at the info for the six diamonds featured below.  These are just a random sample of different price ranges that I found.

                                                                                         .    .    .    .    continued below

Document (1)

 

Document (2)

Document (2A)

Document (3)

 

Document (4)

Document (5)

If I was buying a diamond for my wholesale business it would most likely be one of the three more expensive diamonds.  I believe that a diamond is supposed to be something beautiful.  These diamonds seem to be beautiful – although, even with the info provided on the GIA report, it is still necessary to SEE the diamond.

But one thing that I do know is that there are reasons why the cheap diamonds are cheap.  It may be the make. It may be the type and location of the inclusion. It all affects the overall sparkle and scintillation that makes a diamond special!

Low price is just that. It is low price.  It is not a factor of value.  Value, on the other hand, is a reasonable price for a Renoir – despite the fact that it may be tens of millions of dollars.

 

Best Price Diamonds. Diamond Customers are Cheating Themselves.

Best Price Diamonds.  Diamond Customers are Cheating Themselves.

As a diamond wholesaler with 40+ years of experience in addition to two generations who preceded myself, there is nothing that upsets me more than seeing the ruination of the engagement ring buying process as a result of the Internet.

No, I am not referring to the loss of the “romance” that is inherent in the process of selecting a diamond engagement ring. I understand that getting engaged is a time honored tradition that I hope is filled with excitement and romance and promise despite changes in the way that one goes about in the selection process.

My frustration stems from the fact that, to many consumers, the search for an engagement diamond has evolved from the acquisition of a something that is supposed to be beautiful to something that is not beautiful at all.

Internet searches for anything – whether a TV, an appliance, or personal items – are often motivated by finding the ”BEST” price. To many consumers, the “BEST” price is the lowest price. This customer ignores the basic concept of “Value”.

When this motivation is applied to a diamond engagement ring, the customer is often the loser in that while the price may be low, the diamond is most likely not what it is supposed to be – something that is truly beautiful and spectacular!

I speak from experience. In my wholesale business I sell beautiful engagement diamonds and beautiful diamond engagement rings priced from $1,000.00 (or less) to $100,000.00+! I have sold many $1,000.00 rings that I know are truly beautiful and which I am certain that the buyer will look at and will admire.

I have also sold $10,000.00 and $20,000.00+ diamonds that are “Price Point” diamonds. These diamonds may be 20% to 50% cheaper than a “nice” diamond of the same Gemological grade. These are diamonds that were purchased by a buyer who only understands low price. In this case, the buyer got the “deal” he/she was looking for but sacrificed the overall attribute of a diamond – something that is spectacular and precious.

Unlike the professional pride I feel when I have sold a beautiful $1,000.00 ring and the knowledge that I have truly served the client with the “right” diamond, I gave the “Price Point” customer what they wanted – lowest price!  This is not the diamond that I want to sell but unfortunately there are consumers who are cheating themselves out of one of Nature’s most beautiful creations as they chase only the lowest or best price.

When set into a diamond engagement ring, the difference between the low priced diamond and a more expensive diamond is the difference between something that is truly beautiful and something not beautiful at all unless the buyer thinks that lowest price is beautiful!

I admit that I have fallen victim to the low price Internet search game myself on purchases that I have made. I have bought several items over a period of years that were not up to my quality expectations. Sometimes I just live with my mistake. Sometimes I ended up spending much more money because I ended up replacing the original item with a better quality item. In this case I ended up paying significantly more that I would have paid in the first place if I had just bought the better quality product.

(For those who need specifics, I urge you to buy a Breville ($144.99) toaster oven instead of the Black & Decker ($32.99) toaster oven that is 1/4 of the price!  Yes, both are toaster ovens! However, the extra money spent is the difference between a cheap toaster that sounds like a ticking time bomb and which doesn’t make good toast and one that does it right and will continue to do so everyday – for many years!)

In my wholesale diamond business, I have seen a significant increase in the number of ugly diamonds in the market. This is in response to increased market demand for lower quality “price- point” diamonds that are being marketed on many of the leading Internet diamond websites.

Additionally, I often see diamonds that one has bought previously and now want to trade-in or just simply sell – often because the buyer has come to understand that their diamond is not beautiful and the customer now wants to acquire a “nice” diamond.  Unfortunately this same buyer will come to understand that a nice diamond will always have “value” and a price-point diamond isn’t worth much – when you are buying it or trying to sell it!

A diamond engagement ring is something that you do not want to make a mistake on. It is something that you / your wife will wear every day for many years. Hopefully, a lifetime!

This is not to say that a diamond engagement ring has to be expensive. Beautiful diamonds come in all sizes and all budgets.  If you pay attention only to the lowest price, you are cheating yourself out of acquiring something that is beautiful. And cheating yourself out of something that you will cherish and appreciate every day of your life!

I have a sign on my office wall that reads:

To the customer who insists on finding the “best” price, this quote will be meaningless, as he/she believes that he/she has found a way to beat the system. Trust me, they haven’t!  To others, I urge you to understand the difference between “low price” and “value” when going about the diamond buying process.

As I have stated in my previous posts, the best way to buy a diamond is to put your “trust” in someone who is “knowledgeable” of diamonds. You may want to believe that you have all the knowledge that you need because you have “learned” from the Internet.  I assure that that knowledge of diamonds is something that cannot be learned from the Internet.

Most importantly, buy a diamond with your eyes!!  While a diamond grading report may be critical in buying a DEF color / VVS clarity diamond, a diamond grading report is only a small part of the buying process when buying the typical engagement diamond.  That is why there are such pricing differentials even among similarly graded diamonds.

I urge you to find a GIA credentialed Gemologist or professional jeweler in your community and to look at a diamond with your eyes. I believe that when you do this, you will benefit by the professional expertise that will be shared and you will benefit by acquiring a diamond that you will be proud to own for a lifetime.

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For those who are disbelievers of what I have stated above, here I will attempt to illustrate the differences between a “nice” diamond and a price point diamond.

The photos below are four actual photos of four diamonds each of the same carat size and same grade.  Each of the four diamonds are graded as “H” color /”SI2″ clarity.

I have listed with each photo the exact diamond weight, color/clarity ratings, proportion grades and the “wholesale” price for these diamonds.

1.00 Round Diamond, H/SI2, IGI Certified, IDEAL CUT, EX EX EX
Wholesale Cost: $3,050.00

 

 

 

Note the two major white flaws on the left side of the diamond. In addition, note the major black carbon inclusion located in the center. These flaws are visible to the naked eye (without magnification). This diamond is lacking brilliancy and fire.

This is not a nice diamond. This is a Price Point diamond. When set into an engagement ring, one will easily see obvious flaws.

 

1.01 Round Diamond, H/SI2, IGI Certified, IDEAL CUT, EX EX EX
Wholesale Cost: 3,750.00

 

 

 

Note the many black inclusions in this diamond.  These flaws are visible to the naked eye (without magnification) and the diamond is lacking brilliancy and fire.  Additionally, this diamond has an overall grayish tone because of the nature of the inclusions.

This is not a nice diamond. This is a Price Point diamond. When set into an engagement ring, one will easily see obvious flaws.

 

1.01 Round Diamond, H/SI2, GIA Certified, IDEAL CUT, EX EX EX
Wholesale Cost: $4,200.00

 

 

Note the  black inclusions in this diamond located in the table area (Center) as well as on the left side of the photo.  Though better than the diamond above, these flaws will be visible to the naked eye (without magnification).

This diamond is a good example of the majority of diamonds sold on leading internet sites. This diamond, though better than the two diamonds above, will still have visible inclusions when set into an engagement ring and will tend to have a more grayish tone than a “nice” diamond.

 

1.01 Round Diamond, H/SI2, GIA Certified, IDEAL CUT, EX EX EX
Wholesale Cost: $5,200.00

 

This is the “right” diamond.

Although it is priced at 68% more than the cheapest diamond (top photo), this is what a beautiful SI2 grade diamond should look like. It has no inclusions or flaws that are visible to the naked eye and will sparkle with brilliance and fire.

This diamond will be an absolutely beautiful in an engagement ring.

 

I have written about his subject before, as this is a subject of frustration. See: www.ndrdiamond.com/blog/lowest-price-gia-diamonds

 

GIA Diamond Grading – SIMPLIFIED

GIA Diamond Grading – SIMPLIFIED.

As I have stated in my previous posts, it is my opinion that the GIA grading system is ridiculous. This opinion is based on the fact that there are nearly 200 possible grade combinations of color and clarity.  To the human eye, under “normal life” conditions, the differentiations within the GIA grading system are like trying to characterize a woman’s beauty into 200 categories.

Most importantly, with regard to the GIA grading system one must recognize several things:

1)  Just because one diamond has a “higher” GIA grade combination than another does not mean that it is a more beautiful diamond.  

2) The difference between one or two grades is almost nothing at all in the overall beauty of a diamond.  Think of it this way . . .there are nearly 200 possible grade combinations; therefore the difference between F/VS1 to G/VS2 is just a slight incremental difference of two grades within a universe of 200!

3) Two diamonds may be of the same grade but one may be significantly more beautiful than the other- even within the same grade!

After more than 40 years in the diamond trade in which I have dealt with many thousands of diamonds and diamond grading reports, I have established my own diamond grading system which I believe makes more sense. This grading chart is seen below:

NDR DiamondGrading Chart REV2

As you can see, this grading chart contains FIVE grade parameters.  They are INVESTMENT, FINE, NICE, COMMERCIAL and GARBAGE.

Any diamond that falls within the top three grades is a diamond that will be very pleasing to look at in terms of a beautiful engagement ring.  It will not look yellow.  It should not look cloudy or imperfect.  It should have beautiful brilliance and scintillation.

The Commercial and Garbage categories are a different story.  Diamonds that fall within these categories are not nearly as beautiful – and, in some cases, are UGLY!

Click here for detailed information with regard to the meanings of the above grading designations,

Is there a difference between a 1.50 carat D/Flawless round diamond that costs $45,000.00 and the 1.50 carat H/SI1 round diamond that costs $15,000.00?  Yes, there is,  But I can assure you that – as far as your eyes can tell when this diamond is set into a mounting, the $15,000.00 diamond should be nearly as beautiful as the $45,000.00 diamond.  On the other hand, the 1.50 carat L/I2 – (which in many cases is the mall store standard!) will not be beautiful when compared to the others !

My advice to a diamond buyer is simple.  Take a look at the chart above. Buy a diamond within the top three grades of the chart above.  Do not make yourself crazy distinguishing between ridiculous GIA grades.  It should not be that complicated.  You want a beautiful diamond. You don’t need a Rolls Royce.  Just avoid the junker!

NDR Diamond Grading

 

NDR Diamond Grading Chart

NDR DiamondGrading Chart REV2

Investment Grade

Investment Grade consists of those diamonds typically purchased for long term investment. Diamonds within this category are typically colorless (DEF color) and Flawless or near flawless (IF to VVS).  As with most things in life, the “BEST” and “RAREST” of anything is thought to be of “investment grade” because of their future potential for appreciation.  Diamonds that fall within the DEF/IF-VVS parameters are very rare are are sought after for this reason.  And, yes, a diamond that falls with these parameters will usually be exceptionally beautiful –  (assuming it has a good cut! – See Blog posts dealing with Cut)

Fine Grade

Fine Grade consists of diamonds that are exceptionally beautiful. Typically diamonds that are within the color range of DEFGH and clarity range of VS2 and better are considered fine.   I often use Tiffany & Company as a standard when speaking of Fine Grade diamonds as Tiffany adheres to a quality level that deserves respect throughout the diamond industry.   Tiffany & Co.  sells engagement diamonds that are of color grades ranging from “D” to “I” and clarity grades ranging from “VVS” to “SI1” clarity.  A “top” SI1 clarity will often be a “Fine” grade diamond.  There are also some SI2 clarity diamonds that may be considered fine, depending on the size, type and location of the inclusion.

Nice Grade

Nice Grade is characterized as a diamond that will appear to be white and brilliant and lively when used in a diamond engagement ring. Though considerably less expensive than diamonds in either the “Investment” or “Fine” grades, to the normal human observer in “real life” conditions (as opposed to laboratory environments) there is often very little difference in the overall appearance of a “Nice” diamond when compared to one of the top categories. 

Unlike the top two grade levels, this grade level may be a sliding scale within itself. For instance, an “I/SI1” diamond is still in many cases an exceptionally beautiful diamond.  On the other hand, a “K/SI2”, which is positioned near the end on the linear chart within this grade, is going to be somewhat less beautiful – but, in many cases, may still be a “Nice” diamond.

Furthermore, with respect to all categories, it should be noted that any combination of a “higher” color grade or clarity grade is more desirable and more valuable – (Read: Nicer and More Expensive!).  For instance, an “E” color and “SI1” clarity is often exceptionally beautiful and is considered a “Fine” diamond!

Commercial Grade

Commercial Grade diamonds are primarily sold in chain stores and Mall jewelry stores.  These are usually diamonds that are sold to “unknowing” mass-market consumers who know or care little about the beauty of the diamond they are buying.  Often times it is the “store credit” or other financing terms that motivates this buyer instead of the diamond.

It should be noted that a lower color/high clarity diamond such as a M/VS2 or a high color/lower clarity such as a F/I1 may be nice and pretty diamonds.  However, for the most part, diamonds within the color and clarity ranges noted within the Commercial grade section of the chart above will, in most cases, be significantly less beautiful than those in the top three categories.

Ironically, these diamonds are often not “cheap” with regard to pricing and represent “bad value” to the consumer.  Although sold at an “attractive retail price point” by mall retailers and chain jewelry stores, these diamonds are usually not cheap for what  they are.  More importantly, regardless of price, diamonds within the Commercial grade are usually not beautiful diamonds!

Garbage Grade

Garbage Grade  – The name says it all! There is no reason to purchase on of these diamonds except a “Price Point”.   And even then, the price may be low but you are getting nothing in return for the price.  A diamond is supposed to be something that is beautiful and something that will be worn and enjoyed. This is not that!

How to Buy an Engagement Diamond In 10 Steps

How to Buy An Engagement Diamond in 10 Steps

  1. Do I have to/want to/need to get engaged/married?
  2. Do I have to/want to/need too get an engagement ring?
  3. Do I have to/want to/need to purchase a diamond engagement ring? Or perhaps a different precious stone (Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald)? Or perhaps a synthetic diamond?
  4. What shape diamond do I prefer? Round? Cushion? Princess? Radiant? Emerald Cut? Marquise? Pear?
  5. How big of a diamond do I want to/have to/need to purchase?
  6. Do I need a certified diamond? If so, GIA? AGS? ForeverMark? EGl? IGI? Or some other certification?
  7. What color and clarity diamond should I buy? Or need to buy?
  8. What about Polish and Symmetry and Cut Grade and all this other stuff?
  9. How much money will this cost?

You are most probably like everyone else in the same situation.

You know you love this woman and want to make a commitment to spend your lives together. But like everyone else you are at the WTF moment!

You do some research. You do more research. And more.

The more you think you begin to know, you realize that you don’t know much. And then, when you think that you do, I promise you that you don’t.

Perhaps you have shopped the Internet.

There are many Internet sites. On just one such site, after determining you want to buy a 1.00 carat round diamond, your search results produce 10,515 round diamonds between 1.00 carat to 1.10 carats. The prices for these diamonds range from $28,037.00 down to $3,045.00.

The lowest quality – J/SI2 – is still a good quality compared to the I2 clarity that you saw at the mall!

You do some more research. And more.

You determine (perhaps rightly so) that you should buy a 1.00 carat round diamond that is GIA certified – “H” color, “VS” clarity.

Within your newly refined criteria, the same Internet seller lists nearly 500 1.00 carat round diamonds graded  “H/VS”.  The prices range from $8,895.00 down to $4,112.00. (At this point I must add that the typical Internet shopper, unlike me, sees the prices range from $4,112.00 up to $8,895.00 – but chooses only to remember the $4,112.00 price!)

It turns out that the same Internet seller has a 1.00 carat “H/VS2” diamond for $7,692.00 and a 1.00 carat “H/VS1” for $5,633.00. A better grade – a “VS1” compared to a “VS2” for 27% less!!

Isn’t a VS1 supposed to be more expensive than a VS2?  Perhaps it is the difference in make – or the cut?  But NO, both diamonds are Ideal cut!

You say “WTF? I am really confused!”

Why is one identically graded diamond with the same certification twice as expensive as another diamond of the same grades?

How is it possible that a diamond with a lower certification grade from the same laboratory can be more expensive than a higher or better graded diamond?  Conversely, the “better” diamond is “cheaper”!

YOU SHOULD BE CONFUSED!

Do you know what a crown angle is?
Do you know the difference that a 32% crown angle makes compared to 36.5%?
Do you understand the difference between 58% depth and 63.5% depth?
Do you know the difference in appearance between a 56% table and a 62% table?
Do you know the millimeter diameter of the diamond with a 58% depth may be considerably larger in size than a 62.5% depth – even though both are excellent cut grade?
Is the inclusion minor or major?
Are there multiple inclusions?
Are the inclusions black carbon or white? Pinpoints? Or Feathers? Or Crystals?
Are the inclusions in the Table? Or the Crown facets? Or the Star facets? Or visible only through the Pavilion facets?
Are the inclusions visible to the naked eyes or only under magnification?
Is that 10X or 20X magnification?
Is it back light magnification or top light magnification?
Is the diamond fluorescent? Strong, Very Strong, Medium, Faint or No fluorescence? Blue? Yellow? White?
Is fluorescence a good thing or is it bad? GIA studies say it is good. The Internet says it is bad.
How can a diamond have a cavity?
What is a natural?
Are there any color tinges? Gray? Brown? Green? Pink?
How is it that a SI grade inclusion can be nicer than a VS grade inclusion?
How is it that a SI clarity grade can be more expensive than a VS grade diamond of the same color?

There are perhaps a hundred of these elements that make up a diamond.

These are just a few of the things that determine the overall beauty and value and price of a diamond.

And then you ask yourself, “Am I sure she wants a Round diamond?

“Perhaps I should look at Pear Shapes or Ovals or Cushions or Emerald Cuts.”

And “Maybe I need a better color in a fancy shape because fancy shape diamonds show color differently than a round diamond?”.

And “Maybe I need a better clarity because a VS inclusion can be more easily seen in an Emerald Cut or some other shape than in a round diamond?”.

And then you get to a whole other element.  A Squarish Cushion Cut or a Rectangular Cushion Cut?  A Modified Cushion Brilliant or a Cushion Brilliant?

Or perhaps it is an Emerald Cut in which case you are asking, 1.40:1.00 ratio or 1.25:1.00 Ratio? Or perhaps 1.55:1.00?

By this time I hope that you realize that you can research all you want. The more you know the more you should understand that you really don’t know much.

Like you, I have played doctor for myself. You look up your symptoms on the Internet when you think maybe you are ill. I’ve been there and done that! I have also learned that after not healing for two or three weeks that I felt healthier in just one day after going to the doctor and getting a prescription.

The same is true with your local professional jeweler. Chances are that he or she has been at this a good bit longer than you have. Chances are that he understands that a diamond is about something special and something beautiful that cannot be accurately described and detailed on a gemological grading report.

He or she understands that a diamond is about something visual – something that must be seen with one’s eyes. It is not about a piece of paper.

When you are ready to admit that you really have no idea what this is all about, remember that if it was just about the lowest price, this would have been an easy mission – but it is about the diamond!

There are a multitude of reasons why two diamonds of seemingly the same grading characteristics are vastly different in price – sometimes by 50% to 100% even from the same seller.

I can assure you that the more expensive diamond is more expensive because it is a more beautiful diamond. Conversely, the lower priced diamond is likely to be less beautiful – even though the piece of paper says they are similar.

Put your trust in someone who has knowledge. Let this person be your guide.

Chances are that the jeweler will also be able to give you advice with regard to the next step. After all, a diamond is just the diamond!

What about the mounting?

Halo mounting? Traditional solitaire? Baguettes? Trillions? Trapezoids? Three-stone?
Platinum? White gold? Yellow Gold? 14K? 18K?

What about the ring sizing? The future safety checks? The future repairs?  The updated insurance valuation and appraisal?

I have made mistakes buying things online. I have fallen for the bad advertised deal. I have gone for the lowest price only to find out that I have been ripped-off with inferior substandard quality.

A diamond engagement ring should not be a mistake.

 

STEP 10.  Go to your local jewelry professional.  Ask for his or her advice.  And remember, he is not more expensive than the internet. Unlike the “Chat” person or the voice at the other end of the Internet who has no real “visual” knowledge of any of the diamonds you are referring to, the jeweler knows that a diamond must be seen and selected with your eyes and not a keypad.  He is just trying to provide you with a beautiful diamond – and that is something more than the lowest price.  

 

Insanity of the Diamond Industry

Op-Ed: Insanity of the Diamond Industry
By Neil Reiff  

Published:  “RapNet – The Diamond Market” –  August, 2015
Published:  “World Diamond Magazine” –  January, 2016

RAPAPORT… Veteran Philadelphia, Pennsylvania jeweler Neil Reiff last month published the following commentary on LinkedIn. With “Insanity of the Diamond Industry”, the president of N.D. Reiff Company Ltd. raises a number of compelling concerns and questions for our industry. The article is reposted here with Reiff’s permission.

It has been stated repeatedly that the cost of rough diamonds is too high with the result being lack of profitability in the diamond industry. It is my position, as one who has spent a lifetime in the trade, that it is the retail pricing of diamonds that is too low.

Diamonds are not an “elastic commodity” of which demand increases with increased supply or lower price. Diamonds are not a disposable or consumable product that someone needs to buy repeatedly. The purchase of a diamond is, to many, a once-in-a -lifetime event. A lower price will not stimulate more diamond sales. At best, a lower price simply saves the consumer money or increases the carat weight of his purchase.

As a former business student at a well-regarded University, I learned that the purpose of a business enterprise is the creation of profits. Profit is essential to the success of any business enterprise for without it and the positive cash flow that it creates, a business model is not sustainable. Profit is the excess of revenues minus the cost of goods sold and the many other expenses that are incurred in operating the business enterprise.

Gross profit is the measure of revenues in excess of cost of goods sold. It is from this excess of revenue minus CGS that profit flows to the bottom line. It has been said by many astute business people that gross profit margin is the key to assessing the financial health and future of any business. With few exceptions (ie, Amazon.com), revenue growth is meaningless if the business model does not generate positive cash flows. Such a business is not sustainable over time.

I had a recent encounter in business that led me to author this discussion. The situation was this:

A wholesale customer was attempting to sell a 3-carat PSH diamond to a long-time valued retail client with whom he has established a professional and trusting relationship. He quoted a fair retail price to the client who was excited at the prospect of having a beautiful new diamond for his wife of many years. The wholesale customer/retailer was astounded when his customer telephoned him to tell him that he could buy the same diamond for less money on the Internet.

I cannot say how much less because I do not know the retail price that my customer quoted. I do know that the Internet seller was quoting a price of $24,996.00 for the same diamond that I own and am wholesaling for $24,575.00! This represents a gross profit of $421.00 on a $25,000.00 diamond – a gross profit margin of less than 1.7%!

To this, my customer and I both said, “This is Insanity! . . What is the point?”. There is no point and no purpose in selling anything at a profit margin of 1.7% over cost. No matter how efficiently one may run a business. No matter how much one may grow revenues.

There are a multitude of possible outcomes to this story. Perhaps the customer will now abandon his desire to purchase a diamond for his wife as his perceived value of a diamond has been destroyed as well as the trust he had placed in the seller. Perhaps he just walks away from the transaction because he has a bad taste about the whole thing and it’s best to just turn away from it.

Or perhaps he ultimately buys it for the price of $24,996.00. In this case, the buyer has purchased a valuable diamond for 1.7% above the wholesale cost! In this case, it is the industry that has lost. No one has made a profit, as 1.7% cannot be considered to be a profit. More significantly, no additional sales have been made that would not have otherwise been made. In the end, thousands of dollars have been lost – in profits and in value to the industry and to the consumer public – for the perceived value of the billions of dollars of diamonds held by the public and by the industry has been greatly diminished.

With regard to the issue of profitability of the industry and the effect of “high” rough prices, the above story demonstrates that there are players in our industry that are willing to negate profitability within the industry at any price level. If the price of rough was to drop and, subsequently the price of polished diamonds was to drop as well, these industry players would still find it necessary to make diamonds available to the public at the same ridiculous and unsustainable gross margin levels. Lower wholesale diamond prices will simply lead to lower retail prices – in essence, a Catch-22 situation.

Tiffany and Co. and Signet Corporation are two examples of success within our industry. They both sell several billions of dollars of diamonds and jewelry to the consuming public. Both of these companies understand that profits are essential to their ongoing enterprises. Both of these companies are extremely successful. Their revenues and gross profits continue to rise despite the fact that others seem to believe that the only way to conduct business is by selling diamonds at cost – or perhaps 1% or 2% above!

Tiffany and Co. recorded annual sales for 2014 of $4.249,913,000 – a 5% increase over the prior year. Tiffany achieved this sales figure with a gross margin of 64.3%! Tiffany’s markup on cost was 280 percent! To put this into perspective, Tiffany realized a sale price of $28,000.00 on $10,000.00 of cost whereas the Internet retailer above would have realized a sale price of $10,170.00 on the same hypothetical item!

Signet Corporation, the parent of Kay, Jared and Zales, reported 2015 annual sales of $5,736,300,000 in their last fiscal year. Sales at Signet increased by 36%.1 Signet amassed this revenue figure with a gross margin of 36.2% – a markup over cost of more than 156 percent!

It is interesting to note that in Signet’s 2015 Annual Report, there is this quote that is highlighted: “Our research consistently tells us the main reason people buy jewelry where they do is NOT PRICE . . . but TRUST” (caps added for emphasis).

This affirms what a friend once told me about why her family purchases jewelry from Tiffany. She explained that she knows she is getting quality and, though the price may be high, she is getting the same price that everyone else receives. Again, a matter of trust!

I made reference to Amazon.com earlier in this discussion. I assume that many of the Internet diamond sellers attempt to rationalize their non-profitable selling by giving themselves too much credit and comparing their endeavor with that of Amazon.com. These Internet sellers have the mistaken belief that someday they will achieve enough revenue growth to become profitable.

This is a fallacy. To begin with, Amazon achieved sales revenues of $88,988,000,000 in 2014. Amazon’s sales are more than the entire jewelry industry. Amazon does more business in two days than Blue Nile in one year! More significantly, Amazon continues to grow at 20% per year whereas Blue Nile had sales growth of 5% in their latest fiscal year.

Amazon, unlike the online diamond retailer, sells consumable products that people buy repeatedly. Many Amazon shoppers make hundreds of purchases – every year. Unlike Amazon’s customers who will continue to purchase it’s products for many years, Internet diamond customers will never become multiple-repeat customers.

More significantly, Amazon had a gross profit of $26,236,000,000 – a gross margin of 29.5%! This equates to a mark-up of nearly 40 percent compared to the Internet diamond company at 1.7 %! To put it simply, Amazon’s markup is more than 23 1/2 times that of the Internet diamond retailer who wants to flatter himself in thinking he is following the Amazon model.

So where does this bring us.

There is no doubt that our industry is in a state of disarray. Many, myself included, might say we are in a state of destruction. We are. I would say it’s going to get worse but I cannot imagine getting worse than where we are – except for the prospect of retailing diamonds below their wholesale cost. We, as an industry, have destroyed profitability. More significantly, we have destroyed the perceived value of a diamond.

An artist understands that his work is more valuable than simply the price of the canvas and the cost of paint. A doctor understands that his services cannot be given away to the patient for free if he is to support himself and his family. An appliance dealer would never consider selling $10,000.00 of home appliances for $10,170.00. A home builder understands that he cannot build houses and sell them at cost. A diamond retailer who thinks he is succeeding when selling diamonds at a 1.7% markup to the consuming public is only fooling himself as he surely heads into future bankruptcy!

There is little doubt that the Rapaport Price list was the first step in the downward spiral of our industry. I wrote of this in 1998. (See JCK- July 1998 “Martin Rapaport – One Man’s Destruction of an Industry”). Today, it is not the wholesale price list that is the problem but the ability of desperate and senseless Internet sellers to upload wholesale diamond database information to consumers at wholesale pricing.

It is the mistaken belief among those in our industry that price is all that matters that will destroy our industry. Increasing one’s revenues without making a profit is a pointless endeavor that leads nowhere. Selling diamonds to the consumer public at wholesale pricing accomplishes nothing except lowering the value of diamonds. The end result of this price-cutting actually diminishes the revenues of the industry as a whole.

An old timer in our industry told me of the advice he received from his earlier generations upon coming into the diamond business. The advice was: “Protect the Inventory”. Rolex, – unlike Seiko, which has been discounted into oblivion – understands this premise and has been masterful at upholding value by restricting Internet pricing and discounting.

As a result of my recent encounter with the 3-carat PSH diamond discussed above, I have changed my business practices. No longer will I permit my diamond listings to be indiscriminately downloaded to anyone who wishes to post my diamonds on their website. I am willing to give up these sales by unscrupulous and unprincipled Internet retailers. I believe that my diamonds have value. I believe it is necessary to forego sales to those who want to destroy this value.

I urge other wholesalers to do the same. Forbid others from indiscriminately uploading your diamonds to their retail websites at senseless retail prices – for their senseless prices affects the survival of your well-intentioned customers and the industry. This is necessary in order to stop the race to the bottom and the extinction of the diamond industry. It is simply a matter of one check box in your Rapnet account settings.2

Protect your diamonds. Do business the old fashioned way. Care about whom you choose to do business with. Utilize your relationships. Re-establish trust and value in diamonds.

Notes:
1. Signet Corp sales revenues for fiscal 2015 includes results of Zales acquisition. Sales growth was 6% in fiscal 2013 and 5% in fiscal 2014.
2. It is also possible to allow or deny specific companies within Listings Policy. To manage Listings Policy, Rapnet> Home> My Account> Listings Policy.

Inconsistencies on GIA Grading Certificates

Inconsistency on GIA Grading Certificates.

To diamond dealers and everyone associated with the diamond and fine jewelry trade, there is perhaps no thing more disturbing in recent times than the extreme inconsistency in GIA diamond grading reports.

While there has always been some level of inconsistency in diamond grading itself, today there are 10 GIA laboratories around the world.  It is obvious to knowledgeable Diamantaires that several of the GIA laboratories are significantly off the mark from the established standards of traditional GIA diamond grading.

The diamond buying public consumer must understand that diamond grading reports are not based on any scientific method of evaluating a diamond. The color characteristic is perhaps more consistent than the clarity characteristic.  This is because color is based on master color samples.  In a perfect world these master color samples used by the ten laboratories are all uniform and consistent. Clarity, on the other hand, is based on “standards” such as “a minor inclusion somewhat easily seen under magnification” or “somewhat difficult to see under magnification”.   There is no hard fast standard that determines one clarity grade from another. It is just the grader’s subjective opinion of the level of visibility of the inclusions within the diamond!

As a  result of the “blurry lines’ that are inherent in  GIA diamond grading, there has always been pricing differentials of diamonds within any particular GIA grade.  For instance, two 1.00 carat round brilliant diamonds that are graded “H/SI2” may be priced 25% more or less than the other because one might have a black carbon inclusion in the center whereas the other might contain a white feather located near the girdle.  Obviously, this second diamond is more desirable and valuable than the black center included diamond.

 

 

Fraud and Deception in Internet Jewelry Stores

The idea of fraud and deception within the retail jewelry business is not a topic that I am comfortable discussing.  After all, I have spent a lifetime within the wholesale diamond trade. There comes a time, however, when at the potential expense of harming the industry as a whole, it is necessary to speak about such fraud and deception in the hope that I can protect a consumer from being duped and deceived by unscrupulous diamond sellers.

As for me personally, this post is about my personal frustrations.  In business or whatever we are doing in life, the one principle that we wish for is that we are all playing on a level playing field.  Certainly one may sometimes attempt to gain an edge in one way or another (perhaps by deflating a football below regulation pressure!), but when you see things that make you realize that the playing fields are not even on the same planet, it is necessary to speak out.  These are the times that you wish there was some sort of “Internet Police” or at least the “Jewelry Police”. Unfortunately there is no one in the universe who regulates unscrupulous jewelry practices whether in bricks-and-mortar or online internet jewelry stores!

A few years ago, a local diamond seller here in my city was successfully sued by Tiffany & Co.   In a suit that was eventually settled for $600,000.00 in damages paid to Tiffany and Co in addition to hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, the suit correctly alleged that the seller was selling counterfeit Tiffany jewelry on Ebay as well as on the seller’s website. Quite simply, this jeweler was making diamond engagement rings in a mounting very similar to that used by Tiffany & Co. and was supplying his own diamond and stamping the ring with the Tiffany & Co. trademark.

It is interesting to note, in this case, Tiffany successfully sued the seller on the basis that ‘It’s reputation and name were infringed upon by the defendant’s sale of counterfeit jewelry”.  The buyers, however, were not a party to this lawsuit although they were the party that was truly damaged.  The counterfeit “Tiffany & Co.” engagement ring was worth significantly less than the “real” Tiffany & Co. engagement ring.  In addition to the item not being authentic, you can be sure that the quality standards of the diamond ring was significantly inferior to what they “thought” they were getting!

The Tiffany story that I have just told is unique in that, whereas the jewelry buyer was duped and deceived, it was the legal department at Tiffany & Co. that successfully pursued the deceptive and fraudulent diamond seller.  In most cases, innocent diamond dealers like myself must stand by and watch as deceptions and frauds occur and consumers are misled and cheated.  As previously stated, there is no one who polices or otherwise enforces ethical and honest standards. And no one who protects the consumer!

I must admit that I do sometimes waste my time looking at jewelry on the internet.  Often I see deals that are too good to be true. This is because these deals usually show photos that do not accurately represent the actual item and make claims with regard to quality standards that are greatly exaggerated. It is like seeing an advertisement for a new Mercedes Benz for the price of a used 1990 Hyundai.  As one who is familiar with the diamond industry, “I know it ain’t so” and understand that there is inherent fraud and deception in the promoted product.  Unfortunately, the buyer who purchases the promoted item is either very much uninformed or just doesn’t care about the falsified information because he otherwise cannot afford the desired item.  In the end, the buyer is buying an item that is often significantly different from the advertised jewelry item.

Throughout time there has been the expression of “Caveat Emptor” or “Buyer Beware”. Quite simply, this expression states that the buyer’s responsibility to do due diligence and to decipher fact from fiction when making a purchase. This is especially true when purchasing a diamond or diamond jewelry. Sometimes it is important to know that it is just simply not possible to buy a dollar bill for10 cents or 25 cents!  Again, I repeat  – It is just not possible!

An illustration of such a deal is shown in the image below.  This image is that of a screenshot that I took on my computer yesterday of an actual item promoted on a jewelry website. The headline reads “Diamond 3.50CT Engagement Ring – Round Brilliant Cut 6 Prong 14K White Gold”  The purchase price for this item is the unbelievable low price of $2,699.99!  Even more amazing than the low price was the fact that this vendor has concluded thousands of transactions!

Pompei Eng Ring

I can understand how an uninformed buyer may think he has discovered Internet Nirvana with this product offering and the thousands of other jewelry items offered by this seller.  After all, in my wholesale world where I buy and sell diamonds to reputable retail jewelers, a 3.50 carat round brilliant diamond sells on the wholesale trading market for between $25,000.00 to upwards of $100,000.00 or more.  Yes, there are “garbage” quality diamonds that have no beauty and little value that sell for less money.  There are also boarded-up houses that are inexpensive in neighborhoods where you dare not enter!

pompeiActualPhoto

The photo to the right is a photo of the actual ring.

Without going into the details of the many levels of fraud within the context of this particular item, all I can say is this:  Imagine you have somehow managed to get a date with Margo Robbie on an Internet dating site and when you show up at your romantic dinner to meet your internet date, Margo Robbie turns out to be Rosie O’Donnell!

I understand that a diamond engagement ring may be the desired object of the buyer. There are many beautiful engagement rings that can be purchased for $2,700.00 or less.  But, trust me that you do not want this advertised diamond ring even if you could get it for $2,699.99!

The Federal Trade Commission sets forth guidelines for jewelry advertising:

16 CFR 23.2 – Misleading illustrations.
It is unfair or deceptive to use, as part of any advertisement, packaging material, label, or other sales promotion matter, any visual representation, picture, televised or computer image, illustration, diagram, or other depiction which, either alone or in conjunction with any accompanying words or phrases, misrepresents the type, kind, grade, quality, quantity, metallic content, size, weight, cut, color, character, treatment, substance, durability, serviceability, origin, preparation, production, manufacture, distribution, or any other material aspect of an industry product.

As for the details of this fraud, the advertised photo appears to be a nice ring.  The actual photograph is of a lifeless, worthless, brownish color diamond that is very highly included (I3 clarity) and, most importantly, UGLY!

The terms of the website advertisement states that the ring is 3.50 carat.  The actual center diamond is a 2.00 carat diamond – worth considerably less than the promoted 3.50 carat size in the ad’s headline description.  Furthermore, the diamond is promoted (in the small print) as HI color and I2-I3 clarity..  The diamond is certainly I3 clarity as seen in the photograph.  The “I3” clarity grade is the absolute worst clarity grade for a diamond and is rarely used in jewelry.  As for the color, though the promised color grade of “H/I” is very common and very acceptable, the diamond in the photo (which I requested from the online merchant and had to make several attempts to obtain!) is of a brownish color that is not within the GIA color grading scale.

The bottom line is this: Yes, it is possible for someone to sell this ring for the low price of 2,699.99.  This ring is made from worthless diamonds that have no value and, more importantly, no beauty. None!

NDR-3.00 RBCThis is what a diamond engagement ring is supposed to look like. It should be something beautiful.  It should be a magnificent work of nature that is filled with brilliant color and scintillation and “fire”. It is these qualities that make a diamond desirable and valued.

The internet seller of the ring pictured above has many thousands of items for sale on the company’s website as well as EBAY and other websites.

Additionally, there are hundreds of other internet websites offering similar worthless diamonds and diamond jewelry at otherwise appealing price points.

I believe in the beauty of diamonds and diamond jewelry.  Unfortunately, I also have come to believe that the internet can be a dangerous place for consumers who want to believe that they have found their Internet Nirvana!

Caveat Emptor!

 

 

Follow Up:   Fraud and Deception in Internet Jewelry Stores; Caveat Emptor- Part II 

 

Excellent Cut in a Fancy Shape Diamond – Oval, Cushion Cut, Emerald Cut, Pear Shape, Radiant Cut, Princess Cut

Many diamond buyers who are in the market for a Fancy Shape diamond are searching for an “Excellent Cut” diamond. “Fancy Shape” – is the generic terminology for Ovals, Cushion Cut, Emerald Cut, Pear Shape, Princess Cut , Radiant Cut and all other non-round diamonds. These buyers must be aware that there is no such thing as an Excellent Cut in regard to a Fancy Shape diamond – at least to the extent of a GIA grading report!

As a result of the lack of cut grade – for Ovals or Cushion Cuts or any other fancy shape diamond, many consumers are under the mistaken impression that the Polish and Symmetry grades for these shapes are integral to the beauty of the diamond. There is no truth to this assumption.  Polish and Symmetry have nothing to do with the overall beauty or Cut of a fancy shape diamond.

I happen to think that many fancy shape diamonds are ugly. I also think that there are fancy shape diamonds that are spectacular.  In most cases, what makes one fancy shape diamond nicer than another is all about the diamonds “cut”.  However, the “cut” that makes a fancy shape diamond spectacular almost never has anything to do with Polish and/or Symmetry.

In my personal experience, I often prefer fancy shape diamonds in which the Polish and/or Symmetry is only “Good”.  Many times I find that the fancy shape diamond that has “Good” polish and/or symmetry is much more beautiful than another fancy shape diamond that is Very Good or Excellent.

This is not to say that the fancy cut diamond is more beautiful because the Polish and/or Symmetry is only “Good”.  It is because the Polish and Symmetry is usually inconsequential to the big picture – which is “How beautiful is the diamond?“.

Unfortunately for the consumer, the Polish and Symmetry grade on a grading certificate does not give even the slightest inkling of whether or not a particular diamond is beautiful. The beauty of a fancy cut diamond is about the proportions of things such as length by width – or the depth and table. It is about the brilliance and “life” of the diamond.  It is about what the diamond looks like when you actually look at it as opposed to looking at a grading report!

The overall beauty of a fancy shape diamond has nothing to do with Polish and Symmetry.  Most fancy shape diamonds have Polish and Symmetry grades of “Good” or Very Good.  Unlike Round diamonds in which “Excellent” or “Very Good” is more common, a grade of Good” in Polish and/or Symmetry is the “norm” for fancy shape diamonds.

This is one of the issues of buying a diamond online or strictly buying a diamond based on the certification paper. The simple truth that I know after spending a lifetime in the diamond trade is that the beauty of a fancy shape diamond – whether it is a Cushion Cut, an Oval, or an Emerald Cut or any other fancy shape – has nothing to do with the Polish and/or Symmetry grade (except in cases of Fair or Poor). The beauty of a fancy cut diamond is about the diamond itself. It is about how that diamond disperses light.

Unlike a round diamond in which there are scientific parameters when cutting which provide for maximum brilliance, there is no scientific formula for cutting a fancy shape diamond. Most often when cutting a fancy shape diamond, the diamond cutter is working within the parameters of the rough diamond that he starts with.  The beauty of the finished diamond is the direct result of the diamond itself.

The creation of a fancy cut diamond is similar to the work of a sculptor. A diamond cutter cuts the shape and dimensions from a rough diamond that has been extracted from the earth. Trust me in that the minor detail of the facet alignment or the smoothness of the surface is inconsequential to the overall appearance of this diamond.  A sculptor may achieve a beautiful smooth finish that one could say is “Excellent” or “Very Good”.  But that may overlook the fact that the sculpture is ugly!

The bottom line is this. Stick to “Excellent” and/or “Very good” in a round diamond.  Understand that in a fancy shape you are fooling yourself if you think that the Polish and Symmetry grade gives you any inkling of the beauty of the diamond.

Fraud and Deception in Internet Jewelry Stores: Caveat Emptor – Part II

Recently I wrote of fraud and deception in Internet Jewelry stores.  In that post I discussed misrepresentations in advertising and photography on internet jewelry storefronts.

Today I evalauted a pair of diamond stud earrings that were purchased on the internet from a “reputable seller” who has more than 40,000+ of reviews on multiple platforms – EBAY and ETSY as well as his own website.

The earrings were advertised as “1.00 CT Natural Diamond Studs 14k White Gold”.  The price of $399.99 was incredibly inexpensive for 1.00 carat TW diamond studs.pompeii3 Studs ad

Honestly, the diamonds in the studs were not as bad as I expected.  Surprisingly, the diamond quality was within the color and clarity ranges as stated in the online web advertisement.  The mountings were very light and not of the best quality – but this was to be expected.

The earrings came with a free appraisal from an “independent” authority  located in Chicago, Illinois.  This appraisal reflected the exact information as stated on the selPampeii Appraisaller’s website advertisement.  The Appraisal letterhead stated the Appraisal company’s name and city but had no street address or telephone number.  An internet search for this company found no such company – nor did my research into the directory of the jewelry industry.

Federal Trade Commission guidelines state:

§ 23.17 Misrepresentation of weight and “total weight.”
(a) It is unfair or deceptive to misrepresent the weight of a diamond.
(b)  . . .
(c) If diamond weight is stated as decimal parts of a carat (e.g., .47 carat), the stated figure should be accurate to the last decimal place. If diamond weight is stated to only one decimal place (e.g., .5 carat), the stated figure should be accurate to the second decimal place (e.g., “.5 carat” could represent a diamond weight between .495-.504).

In accordance with the terms set forth by the Federal Trade Commission, a pair 1.00 carat total weight earrings must weigh a minimum of .995 carats or more.  The purchased earrings weighed 0.932 carats -nearly 7% less than the advertised weight.Pompeii Scale Image

To the non-jewelry minded novice, this is the equivalent of paying for a 1 Lb New York strip steak and  getting cheated by more than one ounce on the price.  This may not sound like much but it is dishonest, deceptive and fraudulent!  Unlike a  supermarket steak, the price of a diamond is usually in the hundreds or thousands of dollars per carat.

The difference in value is much more significant when dealing in diamonds.

Because diamond pricing is based on an escalating price-per-carat basis, two diamonds which weigh .465 carats each are worth significant less than the value of two diamonds that each weigh .50 carats.

Using a standard diamond wholesale pricing guide utilized by the diamond industry, the purchased earrings are worth 32% less than the advertised pair of earrings!

i have no doubt than the world has changed in significant ways.  Consumers who once bought at exclusive stores now routinely purchase consumables and fashion at Walmart or Target or Costco. At the same time, many items that were acquired from bricks-and-mortar stores are now purchased from Amazon and millions of other internet sellers.

Yes, there may be differences in quality standards in a $1000.00 suit purchased in a high end specially store as opposed to Target.  I do not believe that Target or Amazon engage in deceptive and fraudulent practices in their item descriptions or their marketing promotions.

As an industry participant, it is my opinion that fraud and deception in internet jewelry storefronts – or anywhere – should not be tolerated. This is in the best interests of the consumer as well as to the  integrity of the jewelry industry.

Neil Reiff

 

 

What diamond quality do I really need to buy?

What quality of diamond do I really need to buy?

If you expected an easy answer to this question I am sorry to have to disappoint you.

In everything in life, whether it is the purchase of an automobile or a house, we all start out with wanting our “dream” car or our “dream home”. In most cases, we make sacrifices when faced with the reality that our dream waterfront or mountainside home is beyond our financial reach. Such is life. And, in most cases, such is the search for the “perfect” diamond.

By this point in your search I assume that the reader is familiar with the Four “Cs” of a diamond: the Carat (weight), the Cut (this applies to shape as well as cut proportions), the Color, and the Clarity. Each of these factors significantly affects the “cost” of a diamond. This is true whether one is, like me, a wholesale dealer or a retail consumer.

The most significant factor of the “Four C’s” is the carat weight. Unlike going to a supermarket where one buys a 16-ounce (1lb) prime steak for $15.00 and a 32-ounce (2lb) prime steak for $30.00, the price of a larger diamond increases exponentially. For instance if a hypothetical 1.00 carat costs $10,000.00 that same diamond would cost approximately $20,000.00 if it weighed 1.50 carats. This diamond would cost approximately $35,000.00 in a 2.00 carat diamond. Conversely, this diamond would cost only about $4500.00 in a 0.75 carat diamond and a 0.50 carat diamond approximately $2500.00. The reason for this is twofold. On one hand, diamonds are priced per carat so the weight differential is part of the reason. On the other hand, each diamond is a rare natural gemstone and larger diamonds are much more rare than a smaller diamond.

As for the “Cut”, this is also a difficult factor to explain. It entails two different things. Firstly, there is the shape of the diamond – Round Brilliant, Oval, Cushion Cut, Princess Cut, Radiant, Emerald Cut, etc. There is also the factor of depth and table measurements and facet angles and other considerations. Because each diamond starts out as a “rough” diamond unearthed in a mine, the final price of a diamond is affected by the “return yield” of the rough diamond compared to the weight of the finished diamond. Because more rough diamond is lost in the cutting of a Round Brilliant diamond as opposed to all other shapes, a Round Brilliant diamond is usually the most expensive shape.

The final two C’s are much more esoteric and difficult to understand. These involve the “color” and “clarity” of a diamond. As previously stated, diamonds are a work of nature and each diamond is a unique creation. This being the case, diamonds can be absolutely colorless or they most likely will have some degree of “less white” or in some cases may have a slight or apparent tinge of yellow. It is believed that a whiter diamond is more beautiful than a diamond that has some tinge of yellow. For this reason, whiter diamonds are more expensive and more sought after than a more yellow diamond.

As for clarity, diamonds being the natural creation that they are, practically every diamond is naturally formed in a “less-than-perfect” molecular structure. If a diamond were a perfect molecular structure it would be a perfectly clear crystal. Although this is just a guess, I would say that this happens less than one-in-a–gazillion times. In practically all diamonds there is some kind of flaw or inclusion or imperfection – as is true with many things in life! Most diamonds are very much included and have many imperfections. It is the diamond that has very few and minor inclusions that become an engagement diamond (as opposed to being used for industrial usage).

In recent years, the Gemological Institute of America has established criteria that has become the cornerstone of diamond grading with relation the color and clarity of a diamond.

GIA-color-chart-copy-copy

GIA-ClarityScale

As you can see from the charts above, GIA grading terminology distinguishes twenty-three (23) grades of diamond color and assigns alphabetical color grades beginning with “D” through “Z”. The color “D” represents absolute white color with each subsequent color being slightly less white. Furthermore, GIA has assigned five general categories to its letter grades.

In its clarity grading system, GIA has distinguishes 10 clarity grades. These clarity grades range from IF (Internally Flawless) and continue though a continuum to “I3” (Imperfect, eye visible inclusions).

I do not mean to be disrespectful of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) for I am a graduate of this esteemed institution. However if one considers all the possible combinations of GIA color and clarity grades there are two hundred and twenty (220) possible combinations of color and clarity. Diamond grading, in my opinion, is ridiculous and overdone.

As a consumer, one might think that there is a science to all this. One might also think that there are significant differences between each color grade and/or clarity grade. I can tell you as a fact that I have known of several diamonds that have been submitted to GIA and have received different grades on separate GIA reports. I had a recent experience in which the same diamond was submitted twice to GIA and received a grading combination that was three grades different in color and one grade different in clarity on the GIA grading report. The same diamond!! Yes, this is an unusual occurrence but it is true.

Sometimes I think the world made more sense when one purchased a diamond based on the “beauty” of a diamond as determined by one’s own eyes and the trust of the local established jeweler rather than on a piece of paper issued by a grading laboratory!

So, where does that leave us today? We are in a world where the consumer in many cases is not buying a diamond – they are buying a piece of paper. And we are also in a world where we all want the best of everything. So, naturally, when we are buying a diamond we go into this thinking that we must have a “D” color, ‘IF” or “VVS” clarity because that is the best (and we all want the best!).

Yes, a “D”-“Flawless” diamond is the best. And yes, a diamond with a color grade of “M-N-O-P” is going to be somewhat yellower in color than a “D” color diamond. Yes, a flawless diamond will be brighter and more sparkly than a diamond that has a clarity grade of “I2” or “I3”. But there are many grades in between “D”-“FL” and the lower parts of the scales that are exceptionally beautiful diamonds.

If you look again at the GIA grading scales above you will see that there are significant yellow tones in the higher alphabet letters that represent the color grades. You will also see that the difference between “D” color and “I” are, in reality, very subtle and insignificant. Although harder to see on this chart, the difference between a “J” color and an “M” color are much more apparent. And, believe me, I have seen some “M” color diamonds that are very beautiful and look white. In fact, if you knew what most people out there have in their engagement ring you might be shocked!

The same can be said with regard to the GIA clarity-grading scheme. Yes, there is a significant difference between an “IF” and an “I2” or an “I3”, but once again, look at the examples as provided on the GIA grading scale above. The difference between a ‘SI” grade and an “I1” or “I2” grade is much more significant than the difference between “FL” and “VS2”.

It should be remembered that diamond clarity grading deals with degrees of inclusions visible under 10X magnification. Obviously a flawless diamond (which as previously mentioned is a one-in-a gazillion) has no inclusions that can be found under magnification. But the differences, by definition, between “VVS” and “SI” is the difference between an inclusion that is “very, very slightly included and difficult to see” and “somewhat easy to see” under 10x magnification!! Yes, the “I1”,”I2” and “I3” grades are much different. These diamonds usually have inclusions that are seen without magnification and, in many cases (especially “I2” and “I3”), the inclusions affect the overall brilliance and sparkle of the diamond and these diamonds may be lifeless and not beautiful at all.

At this point it is necessary to look at this information in the context of price. A 1.00 carat “D-Flawless” Round Brilliant diamond is priced at approximately $27,500.00 on the wholesale diamond market. A 1.00 carat “F-VS2” Round Brilliant diamond is approximately $10,000.00. The same Round Brilliant 1.00 carat diamond in a “H-SI1” is approximately $7,500.00. FYI, this 1.00 Round Brilliant diamond in a “M-I3” grade is priced at approximately $1200.00!

To put these different prices into further perspective, recall the discussion above about the affect of the diamond size with regard to price. Quite simply, a “H-SI1” grade 1.00 carat Round Brilliant costs approximately $7500.00. The same grade diamond will cost $25,000.00 in a 2.00 carat diamond. To change it up a bit, a 1.00 “F-VS2” Round Brilliant diamond will cost approximately $10,000.00. It would cost approximately $38,000.00 in a 2.00 carat diamond! It should be noted that most diamond buyers tend to lower their quality “standards” as their desired size requirement increases.

Buying a diamond is a matter of balancing. One must balance size, color, clarity and – most importantly – price. I have many times looked at a prospective diamond buyer who comes in with “Pie in the Sky” requirements for what he or she “needs” and I have asked, “Who do you need to impress?”

A diamond is something that you buy for someone that you love. It is often purchased at the beginning of a long-term commitment that one makes as a symbol of one’s love and a commitment to another. Yes, you want to purchase a beautiful diamond. I would hope that you get good honest advice from a knowledgeable jeweler. But keep in mind that there are beautiful diamonds in this world that are not “D-IF”. Also keep in mind that your loved one and family and friends will not be using a magnifying glass when they admire your loved one’s diamond engagement ring.

For what it is worth, I get my diamonds for a wholesale price. My wife has a diamond that is an “I” color and “SI” clarity. When I see it on her hand it is not yellow at all. Under normal circumstances, it has as much fire and brilliance as a “D” color, “Internally Flawless”. With forty-plus years of experience in the diamond and jewelry industry, I know it is a beautiful diamond but most importantly, she thinks it is too!!

Diamond Fluorescence: Good or Bad?

There is perhaps no characteristic of a diamond on which you will find more disagreement among diamond professionals than diamond Fluorescence.  For this reason, it is also a subject that causes much confusion among diamond professionals as well as consumers.

Diamond florescence refers to the effects of ultraviolet light on a diamond.  According to the GIA (Gemological Institute of America), approximately 25% to 35% of all diamonds have some degree of fluorescence.  Diamonds that have fluorescence will exhibit a “bluish” glow when exposed to ultraviolet light.  In most cases, this glow is minimal and will never be seen outside of laboratory conditions.

A study conducted by the GIA concluded several key findings that are significant with regard to fluorescence:

1) Nearly 1/3 of all diamonds certified by the GIA (Gemological Istitute of America) have some degree of flourescence noted on the grading report.

2) Only 10% of those diamonds with fluorescence had any degree of florescence that may affect the appearance of the diamond.  Quite simply, this means that fluorescence, even when indicated on a GIA grading report, has no significance to the diamond 90% of the time.

3). For the overwhelming majority of diamonds, the strength of fluorescence has no widely noticeable effect on appearance. In fact, the average person could not make a distinction between a diamond with fluorescence and a diamond without fluorescence.

4). In many instances, observers preferred the appearance of diamonds that have medium to strong fluorescence.  Again – Most observers preferred the appearance of diamonds that are fluorescent!

According to another diamond industry “authority” known as the “Rapaport Report”  (a publication for the Diamond trade), “Fluorescence may add value to lower color stones as it gives the stones a whiter, brighter appearance.”

Now that I have given you the findings of the GIA study on fluorescence, I will share some of my thoughts on the subject . . .

As stated above, there is perhaps no element of a diamond grading report that is more misunderstood and controversial than that of fluorescence. The negative thoughts with regard to fluorescence date back to different times of the diamond trade.

Firstly, in the days before diamond certification, fluorescence was considered to be “bad” because a diamond with fluorescence might be seen to be better than than it really was – and therefore, the buyer may be fooled. If you really think about this, fluorescence was thought to be bad because it made a diamond look better!

Additionally, another reason for the negativity about fluorescence dates back to 1980 when there was an “Investment Diamond” craze in which people were sold a bill of goods about buying diamonds as an “Investment”.  During this time, it was thought that in order to buy an ‘investment grade diamond”, the diamond must be only the best quality (i.e., D to F color, Flawless or VVS clarity) and have no fluorescence.

Regardless of the thoughts about fluorescence at the time, the value of diamonds skyrocketed based on investment speculation before falling precipitously. People who invested in diamonds during this time ended up losing a lot of money – but the connotation that fluorescence is a “bad thing” has lived on for no apparent reason!

So where does this bring us today . . .

It is my opinion that “Faint” fluoresence means nothing!!  Faint fluorescence is something that will never be seen by the consumer and something that has absolutely zero effect on the beauty of a diamond! “Faint” fluorescence is something that should NEVER deter you from buying a particular diamond.

It is my opinion that “Very Strong” fluorescence should be AVOIDED.  A “Very Strong” fluorescence grade is that which is most likely to give a diamond a “smokey” or “milky” or “cloudy” appearance.  Diamonds that are of Very Strong fluorescence trade at discounts of 10 to 20% less than similar diamonds with none or lesser degrees of fluorescence..

The issue of fluorescence is more convolluted when dealing with Medium or Strong fluorescence.  In almost all cases within these fluorescence grades, the fluorescence will have either no effect of the overall beauty of the diamond or, alternatively, the fluorescence will have a beneficial effect. In many cases, medium or strong fluoresence will enhance the beauty of a diamond – particularly in “JKLM+” or lower colors. In these colors, the diamond will appear whiter when mounted in a ring than a similar diamond without fluorescence.

In some cases, strong fluorescence may be a negative factor.  In such cases, the diamond may have a milky or cloudy appearance as mentioned above with regard to “Very Strong” fluorescent diamonds. It is my opinion that Strong Blue fluorescent diamonds should be acceptable in many cases – with the exception of DEF/IF -VVS graded diamonds. As with the case of Medium fluorescence, “Strong” fluorescence is usually a benefit to lower color diamonds as these diamonds will look considerably better when mounted than a similar lower color (JKLM+) diamond without fluorescence.

In terms of diamond pricing, medium fluorescence has little or no impact on the price of a diamond. A diamond with Strong fluorescence should be priced at 5 to 12% less than a similar diamond without fluorescence. This discount will be less as you drop down the color scale as the benefits of fluorescence become more desirable.

i realize that this brief discussion may run counter to other information one may find with regard to the subject of fluorescence. One must understand that fluorescence is often a subject used by a diamond seller to dissuade one from purchasing a diamond from another seller. For instance, “That diamond has fluorescence; You shouldn’t buy that diamond!” It is BS comments like this that perpetuate the controversy of this subject.

As a professional within the diamond industry for more than 40+ years, I can honestly tell you that I purposely selected a diamond with Medium fluorescence for my wife’s engagement ring!! Yes, I purposely chose a “i” color diamond with Medium Blue fluorescence!

Perhaps, the GIA has said it best when it comes to fluorescence . . . “A diamond’s appearance must be taken as a whole. . . Other factors can influence appearance more strongly than fluorescence, such as how the diamond has been cut, . . .” Perhaps the most important statement on the subject is also from the GIA: “On GIA’s Diamond Reports, fluorescence is a description, not a grade”.

The bottom line is this. What makes a diamond one of the most treasured items of nature is the beauty of a diamond. There are many different things noted on a GIA grading report. We have turned the beauty of a diamond into characteristics noted on a piece of paper. A diamond is about the beauty of the diamond. – and not the piece of paper!

NOTE: This discussion of fluorescence deals with Blue fluorescence which is the type of fluorescence most commonly found. Any other fluorescence -yellow or white fluorescence which is indicated as such on a GIA grading report should ALWAYS BE AVOIDED. This type of fluorescence always has a negative impact on the beauty of a diamond.

Avoid Buying Diamonds from Mall Stores – A Repost

Never before have I reposted a Blog post written by someone else. I happen to have come across this Blog post on the site “Cheap FAQ -Best Deals in Life” which discussed buying a diamond. I found the post to be very accurate and worthwhile for anyone interested in purchasing a diamond.

Here is the link:

www.cheapfaq.com/avoid-buying-diamond-jewelry-from-mall-chains-zales-kay-etc/

Happy reading!

Best Proportions in a Fancy Shape Diamond – Oval, Cushion Cut, Emerald Cut, Pear Shape, Radiant Cut, Princess Cut

Best Proportions in a Fancy Shape Diamond – Oval, Cushion Cut, Emerald Cut, Pear Shape, Radiant Cut, Princess Cut

 

The best answer to the question of “What are the best proportions of a fancy shape diamond (the generic term for an Oval, Cushion Cut, Emerald Cut, Pear Shape, Radiant Cut, Princess Cut, among others) is that there is not any best proportion.  No laboratory assigns a grade for the proportion of a fancy shape diamond.  Moreover, there are no scientific parameters for determining what is or is not the “proper” dimension or ratio of any particular fancy shape diamond

The idea of what is “best” in regard to proportion is somewhat like asking “What should a beautiful woman look like?”.  Everyone has there own idea of beauty.  It is something that cannot be put on paper with any degree of authority.  At best, we can perhaps come up with a “range”.  Even then, we must assume that there will always be a multitude of exceptions – whether it be a beautiful woman or a diamond.  Some are truly beautiful despite being different from our preconceived notions or parameters.

Perhaps the best guide that we have in determining  what are “proper” or “best” proportions is to utilize the “calibrated” sizes and their corresponding ratios of semi-precious stones – such as Amethyst or Blue Topaz.   Unlike diamonds that are often cut with regard to the “rough” diamond, semi-precious stones (because of the lack of concern about weight loss) are cut to calibrated sizes that have endured through time – whether it be an Oval, Emerald Cut, Pear Shape, or other shape.

Additionally, my 40+ years of working within the diamond trade has given me a thorough understanding of what dimensions are most desirable and advisable.  Even with such an understanding, one must understand that often the proper dimensions or ratio will change depending on the type of mounting that will be utilized in setting the diamond.  For instance, it is my experience that a three-stone ring may often look better with a longer Emerald Cut that that which might be in a plain “solitaire” mounting or in a classic “Tapered Baguette” mounting. Furthermore, a “Halo” style  may require something different from either of the above mounting styles.

Before continuing, I have one very important bit of advice.  It is not advisable to purchase a fancy shape diamond simply based upon dimensions or ratios or any other descriptive element contained on a GIA grading report!  I see hundreds of diamonds every week.  The information that is contained within the grading report has almost nothing to do with the overall beauty of the diamond!  This is something that must be observed with you eyes -preferably live and in person – or at least in a photograph. To make you purchase decision based solely on a paper report is setting yourself up for disappointment.

AND now for my suggested parameters: .  .  .

OVAL Diamond Proportions:  The standard calibrated ratio of Ovals is approximately  1.25 : 1 to 1.40 : 1.  In other Oval Proportionwords, standard calibrated sizes will be 8x6mm or 9x7mm or 10x8mm.  In my own experience, this ratio range seems to be the “proper” proportion. While I would not suggest going much below 1.20 : 1 (a slightly shorter and wider dimension), some people may prefer a somewhat longer length : width ratio.  I would  consider going up to a ratio of 1.50 : 1.  This, however, is considered long and must be taken into consideration with many other factors of the diamond.

The 2.02 carat Oval pictured here measures 9.15 x 6.82mm. The ratio is 1.34 :1.

 

EMERALD CUT Diamond Proportions: The calibrated sizes for Emerald Cut diamonds is basically the same as that for Ovals.  The ratio is approximately 1.25 : 1 to 1.40 :1.  Again, this ratio may be somewhat less (likeEmerald Cut Proportion 1.20 : 1, however a longer Emerald Cut may be preferred.  A ratio of 1.55 : 1 is close to the maximum range that I would recommend  for anyone who is seeking a “long” Emerald Cut shape.  One must be aware, however, that it is somewhat difficult to find a “long” emerald cut that is lively and bright and “well-cut’.

The 1.28 carat Emerald Cut picture here measures 6.97 x 5.51mm. The ratio is 1.27 : 1. A ratio of 1.50 : 1 is often referred to as a “credit card” shape as these dimensions are represented by any standard credit card.

ASSCHER CUT Diamond Proportions:  An Asscher Cut diamond is basically a square Emerald Cut.  A ratio of 1.05 :1 or less is most preferred. It is important top note that GIA will designate Square Emerald Cut within this ratio.  A  ratio of up to 1.10 : 1 will still appear square when set into a mounting, although this ratio mayAsscher Cut Proportion be discounted more than the 1.05 : 1 ratio as the GIA designation will not designate “Square”.  The ratios between 1.10 and 1.20 : 1 is the “lost” area between Emerald Cut and Asscher Cut and are usually less desirable and less expensive..

This 3.00 carat Asscher Cut diamond measures 7.83 x 7.62mm. The ratio is 1.03 :1.

 

 

CUSHION CUT Diamond Proportions: The Cushion Cut has become the “IT” diamond shape over the past several years – replacing the Princess Cut as the “hot” non-round brilliant shape. I personally think that this is for good reason as a Cushion Cut combines the brilliance of a round diamond with a somewhat square shape.  For this reason GIA refers to this shape as a “Cushion Modified Brilliant” or “Cushion Brilliant”.

There is no preferred length by width ratio for a Cushion Cut diamond.  Most Cushions are Cushion Cut Proportionsomewhat square in dimensions.  Others may be somewhat rectangular, although it is extremely difficult to find a Cushion Cut that is of the rectangular dimensions of an Emerald Cut or Oval.

The 5.00 carat Cushion Cut diamond pictured here measures 10.5 x 9.29mm.  The ratio is 1.11 : 1.

Cushion Cut diamonds, more so than any other shape, can be exceptionally beautiful or not pretty at all.  It is not a question of dimensions that make a Cushion Cut beautiful; it is a question of the overall shape and faceting – none of which is characterized by any information on a GIA grading report, including the Polish and Symmetry grades.  Cushion Cut diamonds must be purchased based on their actual appearance.  To purchase a Cushion Cut in any other way will lead to serious disappointment.  (For more insight, please see my post  Buying a Fancy Shape Diamond – BUYER BEWARE!

RADIANT CUT Diamond Proportions:  A Radiant Cut diamond is, in many ways, similar to a Cushion Cut when itRadiant Cut Diamond Proportion comes to dimensions.  There is no clear cut or “proper” length by width ratio.  Radiant Cuts can be squarish or they can be somewhat rectangular.  Some may be as rectangular as a long Emerald Cut.  Most Radiants tend to be squarish; rectangular Radiant Cuts are much more difficult to locate.

The 2.54 Carat Radiant Cut pictured here measures 8.53 x 7.10mm. The ratio is 1.20 :1.  This is a beautiful “rectangular” Radiant Cut.

Like most fancy shape diamonds, the beauty of this pictured Radiant Cut diamond is not the result of any characteristics noted on the grading report.  It is simply a matter of beautiful faceting which has nothing to do with the Polish or Symmetry grades as noted on the certificate.  For more information on this subject, please see  my post  Excellent Cut in a Fancy Shape Diamond – Oval, Cushion Cut, Emerald Cut, Pear Shape, Radiant Cut, Princess Cut 

 

 

State of the Diamond Industry

In response to nonexistent profit levels and soft demand for diamonds, many of the largest Indian diamond companies appeared to recently change their marketing strategy. Realizing that the current system was all about the “lowest price” and that this was becoming destructive to their bottom line as well as the health of the diamond industry, these companies began listing their diamonds on Rapnet at the “list” price instead of at their discounted price. It was an attempt to revert back to market-making via personal communication as opposed to the cheapest price on a computer database.

I believe this was an attempt to avert the ongoing race to the bottom in which everyone is a loser. I believe that this was a good move with regard to restoring the health of the diamond industry.

Unfortunately Martin Rappaport felt it necessary to show the world that he is the only one with power to control the dynamics of the diamond market. And so he lowered his list prices to strike back.

This is unfortunate. The market was starting to recover from the abyss of January and early February. I sensed that there was a healthier attitude and increasing demand. Now, by lowering the list, demand will again stagnate as buyers will be afraid of diamond price deflation which could become a self fulfilling prophecy.

We, as diamond professionals, have an obligation to protect the integrity of our trade. Profit margins are senseless at all levels. More importantly, the appeal of diamonds in all aspects has been destroyed.

I yearn for the days when there was a “diamond market”. At that time there was also a thriving market for diamonds.

All about diamond grading certificates.

All about diamond grading certificates..

When buying a diamond I urge you to buy a diamond with a diamond grading report or diamond grading certificate. These mean the same thing – and are used interchangeably.

In a different post I have discussed the differences between a diamond grading report issued by the GIA – and those issued by other diamond labs. This can be found at http://www.ndrdiamond.com/blog/2015/03/13/gia-vs-egl-what-is-the-difference-between-grading-labs/

The subject of this post is not the issue of different grading labs. It is the issue of diamond grading itself.

As a diamond merchant for 40+ years, and with two generations of Diamantaires before me, I urge you to understand that just because two different diamonds have the same diamond grade does not make their value equal!

One must understand that there is a range of values within each quality grade. Though this fact may mean very little with regard to diamond color it may be significant with regard to clarity grades. This is somewhat true with regard to “VS” grade diamonds and is particularly significant with regard to the “SI1” and “SI2” and “Imp” clarity grades.

With regard to stye “SI” clarity grade, there are many “SI2” diamonds that are beautiful. This is true whether viewed with our without magnification. On the other hand there are many “SI” graded diamonds that have significant black carbon imperfections that can be seen to the naked (non-magnified) eye.

Because of these differences, diamonds within these grades may trade on the wholesale diamond market for 5%-20% differences between other diamonds of the same grade.

In the retail diamond market there are retailers that prefer these “weak’ “SI” grade diamonds (meaning at the lower end of that particular clarity classification) because these are cheaper. A cheaper wholesale price can translate into a cheaper retail price and also allow the retailer to make a bigger profit margin.

These differences in the wholesale price are also evident on internet diamond sites. It is the reason why one H/SI2 diamond may be $15,000.00 and the same size diamond of the same grade may be $18,000.00.

There are diamond sellers who understand that it is not just about low price but about a beautiful diamond. One might think that these people are the “expensive” sellers. In fact these sellers may be the ones offering the real value in that they are working within their profession or trade to better serve you with a better diamond!

Take a look at the diamond. Use your eyes. Use a magnifying “loupe” or microscope. Take a good look at the diamond grading certificate. Look at the “plot” that is on the grading report. You can see these differences quite easily.

In some cases, even though you may know very little about diamond grading, you will see that one diamond may have only a slight white inclusion (Yes, it is my opinion that this is the one you should want!) – and another diamond may contain many black imperfections. Most people do not want black carbon inclusions or black carbon imperfections in their diamond. This is usually the reason why one diamond is more expensive than another – even if the grading is the same!

As a potential retail or internet diamond buyer, one must understand that it is difficult to put on paper what the eye sees or to otherwise describe the beauty of a diamond in a diamond grading report. We are not talking about automobiles that are assembled in a factory. We are talking about diamonds. Every diamond is unique. Every diamond has it’s unique inclusions.

Trying to categorize diamonds by diamond grading is like trying to categorize a beautiful woman. Diamonds are creations of nature. Like beautiful flowers or sunsets or a beautiful woman, beauty and the elements that make up beauty cannot simply be classified by categories or be understood by a diamond grading report.

Pay attention to the diamond that you are buying. Do not simply rely on the diamond grading report to ascertain value. The real value of a diamond is based on it’s beauty and it’s own unique characteristics – and not simply in a piece of paper that attempts to describe it!

GIA vs EGL. What is the difference between grading labs?

When buying a diamond a diamond grading report is essential. The grading report or “Certificate” represents an independent analysis of the quality of a diamond. Without such a grading report, one is at the mercy of the seller and assumes that the seller is accurately describing the quality. In many cases, sellers have a tendency to exaggerate the color, the clarity, or the cut proportions of a diamond. Some may do this on purpose; others simply do this because or their own lack of knowledge with regard to accurate diamond grading.

There are several diamond laboratories that offer diamond grading reports – often referred to as diamond “Certificates”. Among the most popular “Certificates” are those of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and of the European Gem Lab (EGL).

The Gemological Institute of America, or GIA, is a nonprofit institute dedicated to research and education in the field of gemology and the jewelry arts.Founded in 1931, GIA’s mission is to protect all buyers and sellers of gemstones by setting and maintaining the standards used to evaluate gemstone quality. The institute does so through research, gem identification and diamond grading services and a variety of educational programs. Through its world-renowned library and subject experts, GIA acts as a resource of gem and jewelry information for the trade, the public and worldwide media outlets.

The GIA Certificate is the gold standard of diamond grading. Although diamond grading is not an exact science and GIA grading may not always be perfect, the GIA attempts to be consistent within the framework of the color grading scale and clarity grading scale that GIA created.

One should not assume that every diamond that has the same specific color and clarity grade from GIA is exactly the same. GIA grading is subjective and deals with differences in clarity such as “minute inclusions extremely difficult to locate under 10X magnification” and “minor inclusions somewhat difficult to locate under 10x magnification”. These can be very subtle differences. For the most part, there is not much of a difference in GIA clarity grades in the Flawless or VVS grades. There can be significant differences among diamonds within the “VS”, “SI” and “I” clarity grades. For this reason, often diamonds within these are described as being a “top SI1” or a “weak SI2”.

EGL and most other diamond laboratories are for-profit businesses that are in business to make money. Unfortunately, they make money by issuing inflated or “bogus” diamond grades that do not adhere to GIA standards.

Unlike GIA, which has multiple locations throughout the world but strives to achieve uniform standards for grading diamonds, EGL has several independently operated labs throughout the world. Each has its own standard of how “far off” the GIA standard they are willing to go.

The best of the EGL labs is EGL– USA. There is a lab in New York and one in Los Angeles. I have once or twice seen a diamond grading certificate from EGL-USA that was very close to a GIA standard. In many cases, there tends to be a color grade difference of perhaps one color and a clarity grade difference of the same magnitude.

EGL International, which can be in any one of several locales, is a joke with regard to diamond grading and the Certificates that these labs issue. Color grades may be off by four or five shades – for instance, a diamond that is graded as a “G” color may, in reality be a GIA “L” color. Because of the fewer categories of clarity grades, the clarity grade is usually not off by as many grades as the color, however a variance of two or maybe three clarity grades is not unusual.

Perhaps now you can understand why GIA is the gold standard when it comes to a diamond report or Certificate. To take this a step further, one must understand that if they are comparing GIA graded diamonds and EGL graded diamonds; they are comparing apples to bananas. If one thinks that they are saving money by purchasing an EGL graded diamond, this is usually not true at all. If one were to get a GIA certificate on the EGL diamond they would most likely find that they are overpaying for an inferior diamond.

Such is life. Some people think they have found a way to beat the system. They only understand “low” price. This is the purpose of the non-GIA labs – to give these consumers what they are looking for.

 

UPDATE: On October 1, 2014 Rapnet banned all EGL grading reports from its diamond database listings. This is a link to the official notice.

How important is Polish and Symmetry in a Diamond Certificate?

How important is Polish and Symmetry in a Diamond Certificate.

This question is one that arises in my business several times every week. The typical request comes in for a “Triple Excellent” of for “EX/EX/EX” diamond.

To begin with, one must understand that “Triple Excellent” applies only to Round Brilliant diamonds. GIA diamond grading reports do not grade “Cut” for Fancy Shape diamonds. A fancy shape diamond is anything other than a Round Brilliant Cut. This includes Cushion Cut, Princess Cut, Radiant Cut, Emerald Cut, Oval, Pear Shape or Marquise. This being the case, only a round diamond can be an Excellent Cut or EX/EX/EX or “Ideal Cut”.

With regard to Polish and Symmetry grading, GIA assigns a grade to each that can range from Excellent to Poor. There are five possibilities. They are Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair and Poor.

It is my opinion that Polish and Symmetry are more important on a Round Brilliant diamond than on a fancy shape diamond. To many retail diamond buyers, this may seem somewhat surprising since there is no “Cut” grade assigned for fancy shapes and, therefore, Polish and Symmetry is all they have to go on when determining the “cut” of a particular fancy shape diamond.

Truth be told – a fancy shape diamond is all about the cut. Unfortunately, the determination of the beauty or brilliance of a fancy shape diamond has nothing at all to do with Polish and/or Symmetry! (For more on this, see below.)

With regard to Polish and Symmetry, whether it be a round or a fancy shape diamond, one must understand what these things really are. Polish refers to the appearance or lack thereof of any surface remnants or surface blemishes that remain on the diamond after the cutting is completed. These are not flaws or imperfections in the diamond. Think of the final diamond polishing process as being akin to sandpaper on wood. In a perfect situation, , there is no trace that the wood has been sanded as it is left in a pristine, smooth condition. This is also true with regard to diamond polishing.

Symmetry on the other hand is something specific to a diamond. This refers to the faceting of the diamond. Specifically, a diamond is cut with many different facets. In a round diamond there are 58 facets – or individual “planes” on the surface of the diamond. The number of facets on a fancy shape diamond varies. Symmetry refers to how precisely the “point” of each “facet” is aligned with the “point” of the adjacent “facet”.

One must realize that with regard to polish and/or symmetry, there are many facets and “points” of a diamond. Usually, the polish or symmetry grade of a particular diamond can be based on an extremely minute detail of just one or two facets.

In order to put this whole thing into perspective, one must understand that within the grades of Excellent and Very Good (and, in most cases of “Good”), the differences in these Polish and Symmetry grades are very minimal and have virtually no effect on the overall brilliance or sparkle of a diamond. We are talking about things that are apparent only under magnification and, even then, are extremely difficult to visualize.

“Fair” or “Poor” grades in either Polish and/or Symmetry are somewhat significant issues that may affect the overall beauty of the diamond. In these instances there are numerous misaligned facets or facets that are “way out of whack”. In the case of fair or poor “Polish”, there are numerous or somewhat more obvious surface blemishes that remain on the diamond’s surface. These diamonds should be avoided.

On the other hand, It must be understood that the differences between “Excellent”, “Very Good” and sometimes “Good” are very minor differences and are inconsequential to the overall appearance of a diamond. These are facet junction issues or surface issues that I assure you will never ever be aware of – even under magnification.

My advice is to stick with “Excellent” and/or “Very Good” in both Polish and Symmetry. More importantly, do not think that a diamond with “Excellent” Polish and/or Symmetry is any more beautiful that one that is “Very Good”.

Think of the difference in this way. Assume you have beautiful custom wood cabinets built in your home. Assume that these cabinets are made of beautiful wood and the craftsmanship of the project is spectacular. Assume the final step on the installation is applying the final coat of varnish to the the surface on which several coats of varnish has already been applied. If you then went over the entire surface of the many linear feet of cabinetry inside and out with a magnifying glass and found an exceptionally minuscule spec or blemish in the varnish on the inside of one cabinet, this would be the difference between “Excellent” or “Very Good”. Remember – this is with magnification and even so we are talking about something that is exceptionally minute!!

As in everything in life, we all want perfection in every way. But, as a diamond merchant for 40+ years, I assure you that I cannot tell the difference between “Very Good” and “Excellent” when it comes to Polish and/or Symmetry. I am human and do not possess the vision and technical analysis of a computer that is programmed to do nothing else except examine a diamond and every one of it’s facets under extreme magnification. I have no doubt that you also will never see any difference between “Excellent” and “Very Good” when it comes to Polish and Symmetry.

Retail diamond consumers often drive themselves “crazy” with details about somewhat trivial things. Today, advances in technology have taken the diamond cutting process and the ways in which diamonds are evaluated far beyond levels that were possible in the past. Realistically, we have gone way beyond the things that really matter – the overall beauty of a diamond!

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A WORD ABOUT “POLISH” and “SYMMETRY” and “FANCY CUT” DIAMONDS . . .

I happen to think that many fancy shape diamonds are ugly. I also think that there are fancy shape diamonds that are spectacular. In most cases, what makes one fancy shape diamond nicer than another is all about the diamonds “cut”. But the “cut” that makes a fancy shape diamond spectacular almost never has anything to do with Polish and/or Symmetry.

In my personal experience, I often prefer fancy shape diamonds in which the Polish and/or Symmetry is only “Good”. Many times I find that the fancy shape diamond that has “Good” polish and/or symmetry is much more beautiful than another fancy shape diamond that is Very Good or Excellent.

This is not to say that the fancy cut diamond is more beautiful because the Polish and/or Symmetry is only “Good”. It is because the Polish and Symmetry is usually inconsequential to the big picture – which is “How beautiful is the diamond?”.

Unfortunately for the consumer, the Polish and Symmetry grade on a grading certificate does not give even the slightest inkling of whether or not a particular diamond is beautiful. The beauty of a fancy cut diamond is about the proportions of things such as length by width – or the depth and table. It is about the brilliance and “life” of the diamond. It is about what the diamond looks like when you actually look at it as opposed to looking at a grading report!

The overall beauty of a fancy shape diamond has nothing to do with Polish and Symmetry. Most fancy shape diamonds have Polish and Symmetry grades of “Good” or Very Good. Unlike Round diamonds in which “Excellent” or “Very Good” is more common, a grade of Good” in Polish and/or Symmetry is the “norm” for fancy shape diamonds.

This is one of the issues of buying a diamond online or strictly buying a diamond based on the certification paper. The simple truth that I know after spending a lifetime in the diamond trade is that the beauty of a fancy shape diamond – whether it is a Cushion Cut, an Oval, or an Emerald Cut or any other fancy shape – has nothing to do with the Polish and/or Symmetry grade (except in cases of Fair or Poor). The beauty of a fancy cut diamond is about the diamond itself. It is about how that diamond disperses light.

Unlike a round diamond in which there are scientific parameters when cutting which provide for maximum brilliance, there is no scientific formula for cutting a fancy shape diamond. Most often when cutting a fancy shape diamond, the diamond cutter is working within the parameters of the rough diamond that he starts with and the beauty of the finished diamond is the direct result of the diamond itself.

The creation of a fancy cut diamond is similar to the work of a sculptor. A diamond cutter cuts the shape and dimensions from a rough diamond that has been extracted from the earth. Trust me in that the minor detail of the facet alignment or the smoothness of the surface is inconsequential to the overall appearance of this diamond. A sculptor may achieve a beautiful smooth finish that one could say is “Excellent” or “Very Good”. But that may overlook the fact that the sculpture is ugly!

The bottom line is this. Stick to “Excellent” and/or “Very good” in a round diamond. And understand that in a fancy shape you are fooling yourself if you think that the Polish and Symmetry grade gives you any inkling of the beauty of the diamond.