Anyone who has purchased a diamond or a piece of jewelry has probably thought about getting an appraisal before he makes his purchase. Most likely, you want to know that you are not being overcharged for what you are buying and that the quality of what you are buying is as advertised.
Or, perhaps you are being told that what you are purchasing will “appraise” for X times what you are paying for it. You feel good about that. But is that really the truth? How do you know? What does it even mean?
Even if you don’t think about getting an appraisal before you make your purchase, you probably will need an appraisal in order to have your jewelry insured in the event of loss or damage.
It’s SO confusing!
Well, let’s try to simplify the process and figure out what the real purpose of appraisals is.
There are two purposes for appraisals in the context of purchasing a diamond or piece of fine jewelry. Neither purpose is to make you “feel good” that you bought a bargain. As in the purchase of anything, there is no free lunch. An educated consumer knows that; one of the purposes of Mind Your Diamonds is to make you an educated consumer. A diamond or piece of jewelry sells for what it is worth – considering the place in the chain of distribution where one is making the purchase; that is, are you buying from a retail store, a wholesaler or a manufacturer.
Why are Appraisals Important
1. One purpose is an appraisal before you make a purchase. Here, value (and price) is not the real issue.
This appraisal should be for the sole purpose of assuring yourself that the quality of what you are purchasing is as advertised.
If you are buying a loose diamond, and the diamond is accompanied by a gemological certificate from the Gemological Institute of America (“GIA”) describing the diamond, then you are already more than half-way home. All you really need to know then is whether the diamond you are buying is the diamond described in the certificate. You don’t need a formal “appraisal” for that. Any reputable jeweler can look at the diamond and determine that for you. [If the certificate is from a laboratory other than the GIA, you have different issues. But that is an entirely different discussion for another time. For the purposes of our discussion I will presume that your diamond is certified by the GIA.]
In the case of jewelry, especially diamond jewelry, you want to know that the quality of the diamonds contained in the piece is as advertised and that the carat weight is also accurate. While government regulations require a seller to be accurate in the description of diamond weights in jewelry, what are you going to do, take the diamonds out of the piece to weigh them? You do need an independent evaluation of these factors.
2. The second purpose for an appraisal is for insurance purposes.
This appraisal should describe your diamond or piece of jewelry in great detail and give a replacement value, plus perhaps a small additional amount to cover deductibles and inflation for some time in the future.
For the appraisal of a loose diamond, the appraisal should reference the certificate with all its statistics and identifying features. Without the details, an insurance company may just want to replace the size and grade of the diamond. But there is much more to your diamond than just the grade. You want to replace the look of the diamond too. The dimensions and other characteristics are all part of that, not just the color and clarity of the diamond.
Where do I go for these Appraisals?
In the case of both of the purposes described above, especially if the person you are buying from is not familiar to you or recommended, you should turn to an independent gemological laboratory to do the appraisal for you. One that does not sell diamonds or jewelry.
If the jeweler from whom you are buying is someone you have trust in, you can rely on that jeweler for your insurance appraisal. In fact, as we do at A. Fishman & Son, there should be no charge for this appraisal. It is simple and easy to do. After all, this jeweler has just sold you your diamond or piece of jewelry and should know all of the details.
What about Value?
The best advice I can give you about assuring yourself that you are paying the “right” price for what you are buying is two-fold.
First, you should educate yourself about what it is that you are buying so that you can truly compare apples with apples. If you are looking at the same “grade” of diamond but with certificates from two different laboratories, then you are not comparing the same thing. Even with certificates from the same laboratory and with the same grade, there can be a significant difference in the desirability of the diamond based on what those diamonds actually look like (See our other Blog entries and our website at Diamond Education.)
Second, and perhaps more importantly, know from whom you are buying. There is no substitute for selecting a reputable jeweler, be it a retailer, wholesaler or manufacturer who is known to be honest. And the best way to assure yourself of that is to get references, and a lot of them, with access so that you can contact them directly to find out their experiences. With that kind of background information you can be comfortable that the jeweler you are working with is dealing with you fairly.
I have an expression which I truly believe in:
“A great diamond at a fair price is a great deal!”
That’s it for now. In the meantime, until next time, Mind Your Diamonds!