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Diamond Purchase & Appraisal


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First, I want to thank everyone on this forum for providing great advice to consumers. I have been doing quite a bit of research and have found a diamond that I like. I have two questions:


1. Does this price seem reasonable based on the following characteristics. I've read most people on this forum saying they can't judge unless they have seen the diamond (I don't have pictures), but does this price seem anywhere close to reasonable? I've seen this diamond in person and it looks good to me, but I'm not an expert and can't tell how well the diamond is cut. It seems cut on an Asscher is much more of an opinion than numbers like a round brilliant. This diamond is from a local jeweler and I've asked them about the diamond and they have told me about the different charcteristics and how they can change how the diamond looks, but I'm not sure if it is a good buy. I did see it next to three other diamonds with similar characteristics and thought it was the best one for my price range. The price is pretty comparable to the online stores (yes I found the exact same diamond on the online dealer list).


Shape: Square Emerald (Asscher)

Grader: GIA

Carat: 1.76

Measurements: 6.71x6.68x4.63 mm

Color: G

Clarity: VS1

Finish Polish: Ex

Symmetry: Ex

Fluorecence: None

Girdle: Thick

Culet: None

Price: $13,700

Table: 61%

Depth: 69.3%


2. I need advice on the appraisal process. I'm buying the diamond from one store and the setting from another because there is a particular setting that my girlfriend is set on and the store I'm buying the diamond from does not carry it. Currently I have placed a deposit on the diamond. Once the setting is in from the other store (store display setting), I will pay the balance for the diamond and take it to the store with the setting (just to make sure it looks good). The store selling the diamond says they will include an appraisal with the diamond, but I've seen advice saying to take it to a third party appraiser. This is where it gets complicated. I want to send the diamond off to get laser inscribed with the GIA number (which the diamond store can send out for), but I'm assuming once that happens I have to stick with this diamond because it will be considered "custom." Should I pay the balance of the diamond and obtain the appraisal from the jewelry store and then take it to a third party appraiser before I send it to get inscribed to ensure the price and diamond is commensurate with fair market value and paperwork? The setting has to be ordered custom (4 weeks), therefore, I would only get an appraisal on the diamond. Should I get another appraisal after the diamond is placed in the setting, or should I wait until everything is put together to get an appraisal? If I go with the latter, that presents the problem of the inscription being on there already and passing the return period because of the wait time on the setting.


Sorry for the long post, but any advice is greatly appreciated from this first time buyer.

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THere's a lot of potential situations you're looking at.


First, let's talk about the laser inscription- in light of your uncertainty, it seems clear that you should not do it.

In fact, it offers little protection. If someone was devious enough to figure out how to fool a person with something that looked enough like an Asscher Cut Diamond that they had chosen that wasn't the diamond, they'd simply laser insribe it.

We have done it for people many times- and I can understand, in theory, why people do it.

Again- since this is not the simplest deal to begin with, I'd suggest skipping that complication.


The main consideration I can see is having to have the second party handle the setting.

If you're totally comfortable with them, that's a great start.

But there's a lot of "what if's" in the manufacture of a ring.

What if you don't like the finished product?

What if the stone is damaged during setting.This is unlikely, but don't assume the people setting it will take resposibility.



The appraisal aspect:

Regarding "fair market value": in my opinion, the price is certainly reasonable.

I'm not saying you should not show the ring to a third party- hopefully Neil will chime in and suggest how you can find a qualified person in your area.


I feel that sellers need to offer a document identiying the purchase in detail, which the buyer can use for insuring the purchase. If we're talking a high dollar diamond ( we are) I feel that the seller should not charge for the service.

Of course a report by a qualified third party is great if one has any doubt. Or in cases like this where there's more than one vedor invlolved!

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David, thank you for your quick reply and advice. The store I'm getting the setting from prefers to send the diamond to the company who makes the setting to set it because they know the setting the best. The store claims at that point, liability is with the company that makes the setting because they are the ones setting the diamond. Does this sound correct?


On a side note, I feel comfortable with both stores. I've checked the Better Business Bureau and some friends that have purchased there before and everything sounds okay. I don't doubt that the two stores are trying to mislead me in any way, but a little reassurance never hurt. I think I will still obtain the third party appraisal just for that added feeling of comfort. If I do not laser inscribe the diamond, do you recommend getting an appraisal for the diamond first or wait until the full ring w/diamond is assembled. Just remember the return period would expire if i wait for the completed ring. I have confidence that if for some reason I didn't like the diamond in the setting, the store would work with me in finding a new diamond, maybe with some added costs, but I don't believe they would stick me with a diamond that I did not like. I checked some of the suggested appraisal websites listed in previous posts for appraisers in my area. I looked at ASA, ISA, and NAJA.

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Fair market value is a legal concept that probably doesn’t apply to your situation. You’re trying to find out if you are getting what you expect, right? The price is easy, shop it. There’s a handy tool at the top of the page titled ‘find online jeweler’ that may be helpful, even if you have no intention of shopping online.


In general, I do recommend getting a 3rd party appraisal in your situation. The reason is not so much the pricing as it can solve potential fingerpointing problems downstream if something goes badly since you’ve got 2 different suppliers involved. By having a 3rd party inspection before the stone is set, you have documented any pre-existing damage or problem areas on the stone even before the setter begins. If there is a problem, it goes back to the diamond seller before the ring manufacturer even begins and, if there is a problem afterwards, you know where it came from. Most appraisers are cooperative about inspecting the stone loose and then doing another inspection with a full appraisal when the piece is complete. I charge about $50 extra to do it this way and it’s very helpful in the rare circumstance when there is a problem.


If you have any doubt at all about what the dealer is telling you or not telling you, I would doubly recommend a professional appraisal prior to setting. Many appraisers have special equipment that can tell you quite a bit more about an unmounted stone than we can with a mounted one and this additional data is, at least, entertaining, and many customers find it very useful as part of the shopping process. I would not expect having GIA (or someone else) etch the report number on the girdle would qualify as customization but you should definitely check with the seller on this issue and if it is, get the appraisal first.


You’ve found some good sources for appraisals. I would add AGS to that search list. Where are you?



Edited by denverappraiser
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Hi Neil,


As always, you have provided great and useful advice. I'm in the Washington DC/VA/MD area. I've looked at the online retail prices and the price I'm paying seems reasonable. I believe the store I'm buying the diamond from is selling me what I expect, but you bring up some great points about getting an appraisal before I send it out for setting because that is a record of the diamond's state before the manufacturer receives it. Regarding the etching, I asked about it already and they said they checked with the supplier and once it is etched the store has to pay for the stone, which probably would mean that I have to pay for it, because the supplier/cutter would not want their stone back altered in any way even though I don't think many people would mind having the inscription on there. I understand the store and supplier's point of view and respect it. I guess it doesn't really matter if the inscription is on there or not because there are many different ways to tell if it is the same diamond or not?

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Recognizing a particular SI1 is usually pretty easy. You just need to look carefully at the details under magnification. I generally will provide a photomicrograph on my appraisals of a distinctive property of the stone for this very purpose. Martin Fuller is a skilled appraiser in the DC area and you might want to consider his services. I don’t know what his policy is about examining a stone first and then completing the appraisal afterwards but I’m sure he’ll be tickled to discuss it with you if you call him up.


The more I think about it, don’t get it etched. Manufacturers will always have an escape clause when setting diamonds that they didn’t supply because people will send them stones that don’t fit, have pre-existing damage, razor thin girdles and other problems that they don’t want to deal with. They reserve the right to refuse any job after they get to see the actual stone. This means that you want the setter to see and accept/reject it while you are still able to return it. You can always shop around for a different setter but if you've got a manufacturer that you especially like, you should probably take their advice about what what will and won't work in their settings.


Girdle etching isn’t especially difficult but it does require an unusual tool and most of the sources, including GIA, will only do it on an unmounted stone. If the reason you’re doing it is to make your stone identifiable, it’s probably unnecessary. In any case, get your inspection/appraisal done and make your final decision before you void your return privileges.



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Thank you so much for your time and advice. You have been extremely helpful with my decision process regarding the purchase of a diamond. I can't thank you enough, your advice has prevented a possible unfortunate and costly situation for me. I appreciate the time you have taken to answer my questions in such a timely manner.

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I think I will take both your advice and David's advice about not getting the diamond inscribed. I will contact an appraiser that will accomodate an appraisal for the diamond alone and then a follow up with it in the setting. I feel this is needed just in case the manufacturer damages the diamond. This also puts me at ease about receiving the same diamond back (set) from the manufacturer, thus eliminating the need for an inscription. The manufacturers that I'm looking at for the setting are all name brand designers that I would hope are very professional with skilled personnel to set a diamond without damaging it. I feel they would be more reputable because of their big name brand, but you can never tell these days.


What do you think?

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Good approach.


Martin Fuller of Fuller Associates in McLean, VA is a top-knotch Independent appraiser and will appraise the diamond loose and then again after it's set.

Edited by barry
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That’s a good plan. The designer brands will generally have some very skilled people working for them as well as maintaining a well equipped shop. They’re concerned about preserving their reputations and also will generally accept breakage liability on the stones that they handle. All good things to be sure.


When you get the finished ring back, don’t forget to bring up this thread and give us pictures of how it ended up.



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