Category Archives: Diamond Buying Process

Diamond and Jewelry Appraisals

Hi again,

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!

Josh Fishman


Is a Diamond Just a Commodity? Is it really an E-commerce item?

Hi again!
There is so much diamond “education” available today that, after reading it, you may think that all diamonds of the same grade and size are identical and that diamonds are just like any other commodity. The lowest price is the best buy. “A rose by any other name…..”
It would be a mistake to purchase a diamond based solely on a certificate and place it in a “shopping cart.”

I don’t consider the purchase of a diamond to be an e-commerce item and I don’t recommend anyone just selecting a diamond and putting it into a shopping cart for purchase.

A certificate and statistics are only a clinical description of a diamond, and they do not necessarily reflect the beauty or desirability of a diamond. For example, two diamonds may have the same certificate grade of, let’s say, F color and SI2 clarity. However, they can, and often do, differ in the “quality” of their grades. One may be a strong F color — close to an E color — and the SI2 clarity grade close to an SI1, while the other can be much weaker in both categories. In fact, the nature of a diamond’s actual clarity, as opposed to its clarity “grade” may make a lower graded diamond more desirable than a higher graded diamond and save you money. This may be true even if both diamonds are graded by the same gemological laboratory (for example, both GIA) and especially true with diamonds graded by different laboratories (for example, GIA vs. EGL). Although cut measurements may also be similar, the intrinsic brilliance and beauty can, and often do, differ since each diamond has its own individual identity and character. The value and investment desirability will therefore vary.

The idea that a diamond is a “commodity” and that all you have to do is find the best grade at the lowest price to assure yourself of a great deal, is a recipe for the purchase of an undesirable diamond. In addition, the current wave of “branded” diamonds is nothing more than an advertising attempt to sell a diamond at a higher price. What counts is what the diamond really is, not what name you give it.

For generations, before the internet and grading laboratories, and still today, those who invest their own money in diamonds, understand what makes a diamond a pretty and desirable diamond worth investing in, and what diamond is not worth owning, despite what the statistics or advertising brand name may say.
Only a trained, experienced professional who invests his own money in these decisions is suitable to guide you. If that source also has an on-line presence, he/she should not be encouraging you to purchase a diamond without speaking with you and describing the diamond to you.
I am not saying that you should not search for and buy your diamond on-line. To the contrary, on-line sellers definitely do work on a lower mark-up than brick and mortar stores. What I am saying is that you have to find the right on-line seller to work with — one that puts their own money into their inventory and who can explain the differences in various diamond — so that you can assure yourself that you are not only getting a “good deal” but a desirable diamond as well. A fair price (not the lowest price) for a great diamond IS a great deal!!
More to come. In the meantime, Mind Your Diamonds!
Josh Fishman


Before You Purchase a Diamond-Part 2

Hi again,

What should you be looking for in choosing who to buy a diamond from? It isn’t easy since there are so many places to choose from. There are the local retail stores as well as hundreds of on line sources who are all looking for your business. How do you choose who to work with and who to trust?

There are several ways to narrow down your decision.
1. How long has the seller been in business? A diamond source who has been in business understands diamonds much better than one who is new in business. Not that many years ago people had to trust their diamond source to explain to them what a nice diamond was and what wasn’t so nice. Today, with gemological laboratories, diamond certificates and so much education for buyers to read, the impression is that you only need to compare the certificate and the price and you don’t need any help. That means that “anyone” can sell a diamond. But this is NOT true. All diamonds are not created equal, even if they have the same grade and the same certificate. You need expertise to guide you.

2. Does the seller have his own inventory of diamonds or is he just borrowing diamonds from the real owner? If the seller is on line, does he have a real business with real inventory or does he just download other people’s inventory to offer to you? These are questions you should ask. Obviously, the seller who sells his own diamonds can speak to you with first hand knowledge about the diamond and not just recite chapter and verse from the diamond certificate. If the seller owns his own diamonds he can photograph them for you to look at and he can describe in detail the pros and cons of any diamond he has.

3. Do you get to speak to the owner or just some sales associate trained to recite statistics to you?

4. If your potential seller is on-line, do they have a real office where you can go to see the diamonds?

These are some of the factors which will allow you to decide with whom to do business. In the end, from whom you purchase is almost as important as what you purchase because you want someone who will stand behind what he sells you.

Experience does count and you want someone who delivers what they promise as well.

Think about it.

More to come. In the meantime, Mind Your Diamonds!

Josh Fishman

Before You Purchase a Diamond- Part 1

Hi again,

Before you purchase a diamond, you have to establish several things in your mind. The most important of these is your budget. De Beers advertises that one should spend two months salary on the engagement ring you are thinking about buying. I think that you have to make your own decision on how much you can afford to spend. No one can tell you what is a comfortable amount of money to spend on a ring. I certainly can’t and I won’t. It is a very personal decision. But you have to have a budget!

Within your budget, you will have to make compromises. You have to decide how much money you will devote to the diamond itself versus the ring you will set the diamond into. After that, you have to deal with the Four C’s: Carat size, color, clarity and cut. [For more on the Four C’s, go to Diamond Education]. You can compromise on the first three C’s (carat size, color and clarity). But there is one thing you should not compromise on; the cut-you have to buy a pretty diamond. And that doesn’t mean just the cut grade on a certificate. It means that you have to buy a pretty diamond.

More on what makes a pretty diamond coming soon.

In the meantime, Mind Your Diamonds!

Josh Fishman