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Precautions To Take When Buying An Estate Ring?


techring
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I was down at Shreve Co. in San Francisco, and I found a ring that I really liked, however, I learned that it was a estate ring with an older diamond in it. The diamond is a 1ct french cut in a ring that was made in the early 1900s and the diamond is supposedly even older. I would tell you more about the diamond, except it is not certified in any way. They are claiming it has L/M coloring and VS1 clarity, but I know that without any certification, this information doesn't mean much.

 

I like that the diamond is older, and of a less common cut, but I wish it was more brilliant and reflective. Is there some way to improve the quality of the diamond? Would I need it to be re-cut? If so, would there be an issue with the fact that the diamond is sunken into the ring? (I believe this is called a bezel set ring) And lastly, how well do you think this diamond will age?

Edited by techring
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Is it the setting? Is it the cut proportions? Both? French cuts are so completely different from a modern brilliant cut that you should really take them on their own terms: a French cut is never going to sparkle or reflect as much light as a superideal round, but a round will never twinkle in the way an old cut does, nor does it have the same fire. I love French cut stones (not just diamonds), but I don't like princess cuts, which are derived from the French cut. It's all a matter of personal preference.

 

This said, there are a couple of practical considerations that lead me to say "if you buy it, leave it well alone":

 

1. Taking an old stone out of an old bezel setting is often the death knell for the setting.

2. Re-cutting an old 1 carat stone into a completely different animal is probably going to leave you with a 40 pointer - though TBH you'd need a cutter to make that call with any level of reliability.

3. It's an antique piece; you would be paying a premium for that compared to getting a modern - but still "estate" - ring.

 

As to your last question - it depends on what you mean. French cuts are not in fashion, and are unlikely to return in fashion, but precisely because of this and because of their relative rarity they are appreciated. The diamond itself is going to age like any other diamond - that is, not at all.

Edited by davidelevi
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In-house grading does not mean they're wrong. It means they have a conflict of interest that you need to be aware of. A dealer claim of L/M is acually a pretty good sign. The liars would normally call such a stone G/H or some such thing. I second the notion that pulling apart an antique pice to lab grade the stone is almost always a mistake unless your plan is to reset it into something else anyway. Do NOT buy it for recut. If you don't love it the way it is and for what it is, pass.

 

On vintage pieces like this, condition is often as much an issue as the minutia of the diamond grade. Consider including an inspection by a professional appraiser as one of the requirements of the purchase. They will go over the grading at the same time.

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Thank you very much for all the information! If I do decide to buy the ring I will make sure to buy it based on how it looks currently, and not plan to modify it. I will also try and have it appraised before purchase if I do decide I am serious about it. Thanks again for all the help!

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