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Should I Buy Gia Or Store Graded Diamond?


Instructor Dereck San
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Should I buy GIA or store graded diamond?

(If I leave out any info, please ask me) Thanks a bunch.

 

My younger brother recently bought an engagement diamond Round / 1.25ct / G / VS1, VG/VG/VG and it's a store graded diamond. He said that the difference between store graded and GIA graded is that he would be paying an extra $3000 for a GIA report and diamonds will appreciate overtime anyways. And who’s going to know the difference, you don’t carry a microscope with you.

 

He's been buying rings from the dealer for 5-6 years, just small things like a band with small diamonds and says he knows what he's doing. But from what I read, if you don't have GIA report, you don't really know what quality you are getting if it's a certified by a GIA certified gemologist.

 

I am now in the market for an engagement ring. I make my purchase decision base on Return on Investment (ROI) in the long term future and doing as much due diligence as I can to get the best quality for a fair price.

My diamond preference: Round .80-.90 / F-G / VS1-SI1 / EX/EX/EX $4500-$5500

 

I was at a local store and checked out some diamonds and get a feel of local B&M store prices and the price gap was about $3000 for GIA vs store graded.

 

Example:

Round / 0.85ct / F VVS2 or VVS1(I forgot), EX/EX/EX

GIA report $8500

Store Graded $5800

 

A) Would the GIA certified gemologist grading be off by a few grades or would it depend if he’s a reputable appraiser and may make an accurate appraisal so my brother could have received a great deal/diamond?

 

B) I want to be upgrade 10 years from now, a GIA report should make it easier to upgrade at any dealer because the GIA reports tells all about the diamond?

 

Where as my brother’s diamond would have to be graded by each store and might have grading inaccuracies, unless he brings the diamond back to the same store he originally bought it?

 

C) Please help me make a site/online recommendations or local recommendations in Los Angeles, CA. I’ve already visited exceldiamonds.com

 

D)Is it one of the biggest cons of buying a diamond online is not being able to see the diamond's inclusions/flaws?

 

E) Should I buy GIA or store graded diamond?

 

Thank you so much in advance for everyone answers!

-Dereck S

Edited by Instructor Dereck San
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This question gets asked and answered a lot in the forum. Read through a few of the more recent discussions and I'm sure you'll find some interesting reading.

 

Here's GIA's pricing structure:

http://www.gia.edu/l..._0211%20(2).pdf

 

Any difference you see in price beyond that is for reasons OTHER than the GIA fees. There are two and only two other options. One is grading standards and one is market selection. It's remotely possible that your favorite store or website is the cheapest marketplace on the planet to buy diamonds but, given the number of retailers out there who ALL seem to make this claim, it seems frankly unlikely.

 

This leaves the issue of grading standards. One grader's idea of VVS2 may not be the same as the next. F does not always mean F. Sometimes it means G, H, or even I. VVS1 might mean VVS1, but it might mean VS2 etc. 'Excellent' can mean almost anything. Tiny details matter and consequently the source of those details mater. The diamond is whatever it is but the paperwork can vary substantially and there is no regulation whatever over who can issues these documents and what sorts of scales they should use. Prices are based on the grades, and shopping is routinely a function of looking for the cheapest price for a particular set of reported grades. This means that the reporting of the grade as as much to do with the prices as the actual grade and the reporter is every bit as important as what they have to say.

 

Upgrading has to do with the terms and conditions of the dealer more than the details of the diamond and it's usually a problem no matter what paperwork you have. If you would benefit from a GIA inspection at resale time (and you often will by the way), you can always get one at that time. 'New' paper works better than a 10 year old report anyway. Be aware that trade-in and buy-back programs generally have important restrictions in the fine print. Make sure you understand it before you do the deal if this is going to be important to you. Again, this is about the DEALER, not the diamond.

 

Presence or absence of inclusions is not a function of whether the stone is sold online, on the street or both. Do not agree to a deal in any marketplace where you don't have the opportunity to inspect the stone under your own lighting and at your leisure, show it to your own chosen experts, think about it for a day or two, and return it if you aren't 100% happy.

Edited by denverappraiser
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Table and depth are on grading reports because they are easy and inexpensive to measure, and can help in the identification of a diamond/matching it with the report. They aren't the best measures of diamond cut quality, and in any case they need to work in the context of a whole lot of other things (crown and pavilion angles to start with).

 

Your best guideline - short of actual, in person observation - for round brilliants is a GIA or AGS cut grade, which takes into consideration all of the above and more; if you are looking at fancy cuts, your best guideline is a good dealer.

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Back in the dark ages, say 1985, diamond grading was done by people who worked in jewelry stores. ‘Certificates’ existed, but the market penetration of the labs was so low that it barely mattered. At the time, GIA training included a few techniques on how to estimate some of the angles and such, and lots of people knew that some diamonds looked better than others, but there wasn’t really a scale. Terms like nailhead, fisheye, 60/60 were developed in the trade to describe certain looks. Your jeweler was expected to know the difference and to help you find the stone that was right for you. To this day, none of this appears on lab reports. The diamond business has a reputation of being a bit arcane in terms of how things get described and opaque in terms of giving customers shopping information and this sort of thing is a big part of the reason for the popularity of the labs. I agree that consumers have, for the most part, benefited by the rise of the labs but I remember a wise old gemologist telling me that certificates were like a bikini on a girl. They’re designed to show a lot, but what they conceal is more important than what they reveal.

 

The AGS cut grading system was first introduced in 1990 and overhauled in 2005. The GIA system came out in 2006. The reason for these is precisely because the table/depth approach that was widely used was inadequate to describe the cutting. Both systems still have some issues but they’re both far far better than what you’re asking about. If you’ve already got a cut grade assigned by one of those labs, the table/depth stats gain you nothing at all. If you’ve got a seller who is encouraging you to use this as a way of separating the good from the bad, beware. There’s more to the story than they’re letting on.

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Thanks davidelevi and denverappraiser.

 

I thought the tables/depth of a diamond was related to the brilliance or sparkle of the diamond, now I understand.

 

Would it be possible for just any buyer to walk into a dealer and ask to see their loose diamonds and find a quality diamond comparable to EGL/GIA diamond and paid 1-3k less?

 

Or would the dealer already sorted out the quality diamonds to get graded by EGL or GIA?

Edited by Instructor Dereck San
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Sorry, I don't understand your question. Dealers can sell to whoever they wish and they may or may not be willing to sell to you. Most dealers can get stones graded by any or all of the major labs. As with the above, whether or not they choose to do so and how much they want to charge is up to them.

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A GIA or AGS report for a diamond up to 1 carat is about $100, plus shipping and a few weeks waiting time. Let's be generous, and let's call it $500 all in. Why would a dealer be unwilling to spend $500 to get $2700 as in your example in post #1? Or even $1000? 100% return is not to be sniffed at (and if you look at pure "out of pocket" costs, it's about 400%).

 

If a diamond costing above $2000 is not graded by GIA or AGS, ask yourself why. And remember that tiny details, invisible except under particular circumstances, can mean a lot of money. A 0.98 E/VVS1 VG cut is about $11000. A 1.00 D/IF EX cut is about $30000. Once set, you (or anyone else) won't tell them apart - loupe or no loupe. Are you ready to bet what that "bargain" D/IF at $20,000 is?

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I went to see some loose diamonds, but I'm not sure if I should of compared the diamonds to similar quality or not? Should I ask to see GIA diamonds of similar price range(4000-5000)?

 

These were the diamonds I was shown based on my budget.

 

ROUND CUT

.86 VS1 H

.92 SI1 G

1.08 SI2 G-F

 

PRINCESS CUT

1.02 SI1 F-G

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Much information is missing from your descripitons.

 

In general, the first step at the store is one of education, not one of prices. You're trying to get a feel for what you like, The differences between the various grades etc. Pick a size, say 1 carat, and ask them to show you a variety of cuts, grades, shapes and so forth that are otherwise similar. Pay attention to what you like the best as well as which attributes drive up (and down) the prices. Take notes.

Edited by denverappraiser
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Thank for all your replies. denverappraiser,davidelevi,barry.

 

I will do that, deverappraiser. This is the first time looking at a few diamonds, I actually see my tolerance, I have for each flaw in the diamond. I have listed some thoughts I had when I first saw each diamonds below, listed in order of which diamond the dealer showed me first.

 

I only looked at the diamonds within my budget, but I will take deverappraiser advice and go see more. I am still interested in seeing GIA diamonds for the education, but I told them upfront what my budget was, I don't think i was offered to see GIA diamonds and I was so nervous that I didn't even think to ask.

 

ROUND CUT

(1) .86 VS1 H (1. even tho I never seen other diamonds and wasn't side-by-side with another diamond, it had

a noticeably yellow hint)

 

(2) 1.08 SI2 G-F (2. the clarity was awful, color was good, but seem dirty was inside the rock. My brother said it would look like it's always dirty)

 

(3) .92 SI1 G (3. much better all around, but notice it has a lack of fire/sparkle)

 

PRINCESS CUT

(4) 1.02 SI1 F-G (4. Color was the best out of the four(4) so I really liked this diamond out of the 4 I've seen.

 

I want to upgrade in the future. Maybe in the near feature of 1-2 years.

 

Is it typical to loose value in a loose vs GIA diamond if I bring it back to the same shop I purchased it from?

 

Will I retain more value if I were to purchase a GIA diamond?

Edited by Instructor Dereck San
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First of all - there is no such thing as a "GIA diamond". GIA has a laboratory that grades diamonds for various attributes (colour, clarity, size, cut, etc.) and anyone can send them any diamond for grading. They will grade a D/IF as happily (and inexpensively) as an N/I2. Neil has posted you the link to the current GIA fees, so you should know that any claims by dealers that "GIA grading is expensive" are complete bullsh*t.

 

You can find a nice looking, fairly graded diamond for $4-5k. It doesn't sound like any of those you saw was particularly nice, and the big problem without a GIA report is that you have nothing to guide you in price comparisons. Change dealer!

 

If you want a round 1 carat (or 0.90) diamond for $4-5k, you need to look at I-J VS2-SI1, and stay below the 1.00 carat threshold. A princess will be less money, and may allow you a "full carat" stone, but it may well look smaller at 1.00 carat than a 0.90 round. Also, with a princess cut you will have far less information about the cut quality than with a round.

 

Value: You should never buy a diamond as a consumer with any expectation of getting your money back - losses of 50-70% are common. A GIA report will not help particularly in terms of % loss, but it may help to resell faster (or at all) if you were to resell privately or even to a trade buyer.

Edited by davidelevi
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davidelevi, Thanks. Right, I meant I will like to get a diamond with a GIA report. Sorry, still working on the lingo. I always thought diamond would be an investment and would appreciate as time goes by.

 

I will go look at another place, that the dealer actually recommended me to buy GIA certified as a first time buyer. Also actually explained the 4C even though he was bz and talking fast, I couldn't understand him. haha

 

If the dealer doesn't have a diamond they actually own in their own stock that I like at their retail location, then most likely they would order diamond from a wholesaler that any other dealer can also order?

 

Should I go to a few dealers to look at their diamonds before asking them to order something for me to see, if I don't like any of their stones?

 

Also, when I ask the dealer to order me a stone to see, am I suppose to give them a deposit or will there be a fee? Should I wait until I find a dealer I exclusively want to deal with before asking them to order something?

Edited by Instructor Dereck San
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I was very interested in a princess cut because the diamondreview.com site has a background header image at top of a princess cut(looks so sparkly and modern than a RB? Or is it not a princess cut (if not then what is it, any specs, I understand it of course an ad picture so it looks beautiful)?

header_bk.jpg

Edited by Instructor Dereck San
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If you want to call them "GIA diamond" for short, I don't have a problem. As long as it's clear to you and other readers that GIA does not select or sell diamonds and that GIA-graded stones don't have special magical properties... :)

 

To your questions - yes, that's what wholesalers do. In some cases they will reserve certain stones for certain retailers (e.g. Blue Nile's "Signature" series), in other cases they will let anyone have the stone.

 

Asking to see stones or to call some in from the supply chain is normally free - though it depends how many, how often and what type of stone. For something highly tradeable like the diamond you are after, i would not expect anyone to ask you for a deposit or a fee, unless you ask for specific services (e.g. ASET/IS images, Sarin scan etc.) where a fee could be asked.

 

I would definitely recommend that you choose a dealer or two to work with closely - not only because if they believe they have a higher chance of selling something they may be more ready to help, but also because you need to see different colours, clarity grades, cut grades, shapes etc., and the most efficient and effective way to do this is by having an expert showing you.

 

Finally, yes, the DR logo image is a princess cut, but I believe it's a CAD rendering, not a "real" photograph. Whether a princess cut looks more beautiful than a round brilliant is completely down to personal taste; however, a round in general is more "sparkly" than a princess.

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  • 4 weeks later...

So haven't been back for a while. Again, Thank you everyone and David for the last response. I've been studying up have a better idea of what I want Round GIA .80 ct F/VS2 ex/ex/ex

 

Which dealer would be wiser to deal with?

Dealer A: The genuinely helpful dealer, but not many diamonds to see /or/ Dealer B: the least helpful, but many diamonds to see and really nice people?

 

Dealer A: I went back to the dealer that educated me the most about diamonds, but the problem is that he doesn't have a whole lot of selection for me to look at. He seem genuinely helpful, but I don't have diamonds to see there and didn't like his settings that he had displayed. He was able to show me a recent piece that he just received, a Princess 1ct E/SI1 GIA and a mounted Round .9 E/VS1 GIA that was traded/used in.

 

Dealer B: (Before I found DR site or had knowledge about diamonds) Another dealer I was offered fair price for a diamond and ring setting, but didn't educate me on anything, just told me to get a Round F/VS2 .90Ct GIA and offered a very fair price (I compared the prices with Diamond Finder), but I never was offered to look at the diamond under a scope. They had a selection of diamonds to look at, at least 20 pcs.

Edited by Instructor Dereck San
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Well, would dealer B be willing to show you things if you did ask to look at stones under the microscope? Sometimes people don't offer because they feel that people aren't so interested.

 

Other than that, there's plenty of other dealers that may be willing to help as A and have stock availability like B.

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yea dealer B was showing me everything I want and they will likely let me see under the scope, i didnt ask, but didn't make the effort to educate me on what I would be buying. I beleive it was actually my very first time looking and I wasn't armed with any knowledge anyways so I didn't know what to ask for. So would it be better to Visit the dealer with more diamonds? Now I feel that (dealer B ) might have more knowledge because all their stone were in the display case while (dealer A) had 6 lower grade stones displayed.

Well, would dealer B be willing to show you things if you did ask to look at stones under the microscope? Sometimes people don't offer because they feel that people aren't so interested.

 

Other than that, there's plenty of other dealers that may be willing to help as A and have stock availability like B.

Edited by Instructor Dereck San
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I would pick A. Most dealers can get you pretty much anything you want and much of the process is using them as an ally to work with you in the hunt. Inventory is terribly expensive for jewelers and whether they have in stock what you happen to want is a crapshoot anyway. In my book good communication and character trumps inventory levels every time.

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Hey Niel, thanks for the reminder about character trumps. It's just really so hard to compare diamonds without having a similar diamond to compare it too as I've learn from DR forum. Anyone else care to comment?

 

Anyone have any good sites to look for ring settings? I really don't like what (dealer A) has in his display.

Edited by Instructor Dereck San
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A huge selection of nice quality pieces with so-so pictures is at www.stuller.com. This is a huge manufacturer that nearly every jeweler in the country works with. If you see something you like, ask your jeweler about it and they can give you prices.

Edited by denverappraiser
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